Halloween came and went without warning. One moment it was sunny and hot, the next the leaves were off the trees and it was cold outside. And now, you know what’s coming. As much as you might try to prepare for it, time will fly by and it will be here staring you in the eye, taunting you for being unprepared. Thanksgiving and Christmas, they’re coming whether we’re ready or not. We can’t stop them.
Menu planning, present buying, card writing, house decorating, it’s a crazy time of year. Crazy. And as well as we plan and prepare, it’s still overwhelming, with not enough time for everything to be done. As if there wasn’t enough to be accomplished in the day, now about a million different things are added to the list. On top of that, you just know that blizzard is going to strike when you think you have everything under control and are about to get all the Christmas shopping done in one day.
This doesn’t mean the holidays are bad. In fact, I love the holidays. They’re just about the only thing that gets me through winter. I love spending time with the people I love, seeing the house transformed into a Christmas wonderland, baking and cooking, buying (and yes, I’ll admit receiving is pretty awesome too) presents. Even when it’s icy cold outside, there’s a warmth that comes with the holidays. An almost unexplainable warmth.
When your pen runs out of ink in the middle of writing a card and the Christmas tree won’t stand up straight, take a deep breath. Try to enjoy the holidays and all the wonderful things about them, forgetting about the traffic jam that seems to fill a full square mile around every Costco and shopping mall, because lurking just under the surface of a few annoying things is pure holiday magic.
Food is definitely a huge part of the holidays, and I want you to consider my blog your source for fabulous holiday recipes. Most of them will be sweet, but I’ll try to work in a few savory ones for you. When it comes to dessert though, there will be plenty of recipes here that will make you look like Martha Stewart to all your family and friends.
Pecan Pralines are a great way to ease in to holiday baking. These are super easy to make and can be made up to a week ahead of time. That’s music to the ears of anyone stressing about the holidays. These little nuggets of sweet nutty goodness would make a great gift or addition to a party spread. Okay, so you need a candy thermometer, but it’s not a big deal. A few minutes of boiling sugar and stirring result in sugary sweet, almost maple tasting candy filled with crunchy pecans. The flavors and textures are a perfect pair. If you’re already feeling the stress of the holidays, make a batch of these and save them all for yourself. We’ll call it recipe testing.
Don’t forget to enter the Chinet Bakeware giveaway. Those pans would really help make the holidays easier!
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cubed
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups pecans
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. In a medium saucepan, combine sugars, cream, butter, water, and salt over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter is melted, the mixture is homogenous, and the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the pecans and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
- Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 238 degrees F on the thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir vigorously and constantly for several minutes until the mixture thickens and cools slightly. I stirred for about 5 minutes, but use your judgment or drop a test praline on a baking sheet.
- Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Cool completely on pan. When cooled, gently remove them from the parchment and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. They are delicate, so handle them gently at all steps in the storage process. I do not recommend freezing these.