Preparation / Directions:
NOTE: To judge doneness, use one or more of the following guides;
1. Candy thermometer will read 240F
2. When done, the batter will begin forming distinct threads on the sides or bottom of the pan.
3. Near the end of the cooking time, make a test praline every few seconds. The early-test pralines will be somewhat runny, very shiny and somewhat translucent. The ideal praline will have progressed past that stage--it will not be runny and will be less shiny; when cooled it will be opaque, lusteriess and crumbly instead of chewy.
4. Near the end of the cooking time, drizzle spoonfuls of the mixture across the surface of the mixture. When ready, the mixture will form a neat thread across the surface.
Assemble all ingredients and utensils before starting to cook. You will need a large heavy bottomed aluminum pot or skillet with deep sides, a long handled metal whisk or spoon, 2 large spoons (or an ice cream scoop with a manual release) and a lightly buttered cookie sheet. Be careful not to get any of the mixture on you skin, as it sticks and can cause serious burns. Melt the butter in the pot over high heat.
As soon as it's melted, add the sugars and cream. Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add the milk and chopped pecans, cook 4 minutes more, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking and whisking 5 minutes. Add the pecan halves and vanilla and continue whisking and cooking until done, about 15 to 20 minutes longer (see NOTE above on tests for doneness).
If mixture starts to smoke toward end of cooking, lower the heat. Remove pan from heat. Quickly and carefully drop the batter onto the cookie sheet by heaping spoonfuls, using the second spoon to scoop the batter off the first (or use ice cream scoop).
Each praline should form a 2-inch patty about 1/2 inch thick. Cool and store in an airtight container, or wrap each praline in plastic wrap or foil.
LAGNIAPPE: To clean the pot and utensils, boil water in the pot with the utensils in it. This will melt the batter off.
From Paul Prudhomme's "Louisiana Kitchen