- Combine sugar, soda and buttermilk in heavy saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a soft ball in cold water (see Note) (approximately 238°F on candy thermometer).
- Remove from heat. Add vanilla and pecans, and begin beating. Beat until mixture begins to turn cloudy and pecans do not sink to bottom of pan.
- Working quickly, drop by one-fourth cupfuls onto buttered waxed paper (put newspaper or dish towels under your waxed paper to keep it from melting on your countertop). If candy gets too hard before all is spooned out, add a little water and reheat. Or let stand on very low heat or in a large bowl of hot water while spooning out.
- Makes about 15 large pralines.
Note: You don't have to toast the pecans if you're in a big hurry, but toasting really makes this wonderful candy even more special.
The cold-water test for soft ball stage is this: Fill a cup with very cold water. Spoon a small amount of the boiling candy mixture into the cold water. If the syrup forms a soft ball in the water that flattens when removed, it is at soft-ball stage. Quickly remove your candy from the heat, or you will find yourself at hard-ball stage, and your candy will be too hard.
Total time: 2 Hrs