Yes...use a microwave! You won't be stuck over a stove endlessly boiling and stirring the sugar mixture. This recipe is adapted from an old Southern Living recipe. It is essentially foolproof, just do not try to make these on a very humid day, as the candy may not firm up appropriately. Also ensure you have a very large high quality microwave safe bowl, as the mixture will get extremely hot due to the long microwave time.
Prep Time: 15 minutes Yield: 18 pralines
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup whole milk with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar added)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups lightly chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large microwave safe bowl, add all ingredients except the baking soda. Stir well.
Microwave mixture on high for a total of 12 minutes, stopping every three minutes to stir it.
Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave. Add the baking soda (the mixture will boil up with the addition of the soda) and stir well to incorporate the soda. Return mixture to the microwave on high for 1 minute.
Again, carefully remove bowl from the microwave. Using a large heatproof spoon, beat the mixture for a few minutes. The praline mixture will begin to cool a bit and become thicker. Once it has thickened to the consistency of molasses*, drop a tablespoonful at a time onto the parchment paper. Work quickly if the mixture begins to thicken rapidly.
*You may think the mixture is not thick enough to be ready for pouring onto the parchment paper, however it will firm up very quickly as it cools.