Appalachia Appalachian Food Christmas

Sweet Treats for Christmas

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There are certain recipes that I don’t even think about making until Thanksgiving and Christmas rolls around each year. It’s not that the recipes wouldn’t be good any other time of the year, it’s just that the preparation and ingestion of those recipes are so tied to the holiday season that I feel like it wouldn’t make sense to prepare them any other time of the year. Silly I know.

Pralines are the first holiday recipe that comes to mind for me. I’ve been making them for ages, and I dare say The Pressleys might send me home if I showed up without a box of my pralines at their annual Christmas get together.

Today I’m re-sharing my praline recipe and between now and Christmas I’ll re-share some of my other favorite sweet treats for Christmas.

Chatter and chitter growing up in appalachia

I always make pralines at Christmas. When Chatter and Chitter were little they acted like banshees (actually sometimes-they still do). I had a hard time taking both of them grocery shopping with me. If I didn’t put them in the buggy they got away from me, if I did put them in the buggy there was no room for the groceries. I finally found the solution to my dilemma at a BILO store. The store had a buggy with 2 seats built into it-they even buckled so the girls couldn’t escape even if they tried.

Each Christmas the BILO store handed out Christmas magazines filled with recipes. One of the Christmas handouts had this recipe in it and they turned out so well the first time I made them, that I’ve been making them ever since.

Easy Praline Recipe


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 2 cups pecan halves (pieces work too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

How do you make pralines

*Combine sugar, soda, salt, and buttermilk in a large saucepan and cook over high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling and stirring until mixture begins to thicken and becomes slightly creamy (210 degrees on a candy thermometer).

Christmas candy

*Add butter and pecans, and continue boiling over medium high heat until the thermometer reaches 234 degrees (soft ball stage).


*Remove pan from heat, and add vanilla. Allow mixture to cool about 2 minutes. Beat mixture until it begins to lose its gloss and is thick and creamy. Quickly, drop by spoonfuls in 2 inch rounds on waxed paper/foil let cool. (if mixture becomes too hard, immerse pan in hot water for several minutes and resume dropping candies)

Making pralines

The hardest part of the recipe is knowing when to start dropping the pralines onto the paper. I’ve dropped too soon and ended up scraping it all up to cook a little more.

The best tip I can give, other than trial and error, is too really pay attention to the mixture. It does loose it’s glossy appearance and you can begin to see a difference in the texture of the mixture as well. Honestly the pralines are so good even if I had to scrape the mixture back into the pot and cook it a little longer every time I made them it’d be worth it. The pralines are creamy melt in your mouth goodness.


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  • Reply
    Patricia Owings
    March 24, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    My husband loves pralines his mom would make them every year during the holidays. She’s passed on and we have been married for 23 years. I have never made pralines before even though I have her recipe. I was telling him about your recipe and he informed me that ” I must make him some, cause your recipe has buttermilk instead of evaporated milk in his mom’s recipe”! So I guess I’ve got to make pralines! He doesn’t care what time of the year it’s, he really loves them!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    B.-Thank you for the comment! I have never made divinity but Granny used to make it. I need to give it a try-if you have a good recipe send it my way : )

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    December 7, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I love pralines, but with diabetes, only eat them once a year, roughly crumbled and spread on top of my Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole. Yum!!!
    God bless.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Your comment about going grocery shopping with the girls brought back many memories of shopping with my little ones. My three came within three years and I discovered the joy of “harnesses” long before they were considered an appropriate way to manage small children. My husband had to travel a lot and with no relatives in town I was on my own a lot with the kids ( I loved it and they really weren’t difficult children) I would anchor the older two in one cart – one in the seat and one in the basket area and put the third in either a front pack (infant) or back-pack (toddler) and grab another cart for groceries. It was very annoying how many shoppers thought they had to interrupt my shopping to tell me what a horrible mother I was for “tying up” my children. But the kids were accustomed to it and it certainly made shopping easier as far as the kids were concerned. There were so many games we could play as I shopped: “I spy”, “who can find – color, shape, picture”, “What would a giant/fairie/elf eat?”, counting games, who is the first one to see _____”, . . . . The children learned to recognize lots of words in the store; and not one was traumatized by being “tied up” by their mother!
    Now about those yummy looking pralines. They are on my list of things to make this season.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    The place I used to work sold every kind of candy you can think of and many you can’t. One year we had some Demet’s (used to be Nestles) Turtles that were getting close dated and when the vendor rep came I asked him what he wanted me to do with them. He told me to bill them back to him and dispose of them. In cases like that I always asked how they wanted me to get rid of them. He said it didn’t matter so I chose to let the whole crew help me with this arduous task.
    Turtles are like pralines dipped in chocolate. These Turtles were three in a pack in counter units of 24 packs. There were 12 counter units in a case and 18 cases on a pallet. We had three pallets. About 15,000 individual pieces of candy. Probably 4000 lbs (2 tons) of Turtles.
    I stood by the time clock and handed out these counter units to everybody as they left. Some of them hesitated, asking what the guard out front would say. I told them he knew about it and he was eating turtles too. We gave away turtles through 3 shifts and there was still some there when I got back to work the next day.
    They say that turtles can live hundreds of years in the wild. I say if they are pralines, dipped in milk chocolate turtles, a day or two is their life expectancy, around me anyway!
    You should try dipping some of yours in chocolate. Or you could send me a couple of dozen and I would dip them myownself and tell you what I think!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    I had to go to Walmart the other day. The lines were long at the checkout and I got stuck behind a couple with a buggy FULL. After they finally got to the cashier and had half their stuff on the counter I noticed one larger item at the bottom. It was a 4 or 5 year old little boy, sound asleep. They had to roll him around to get to all their purchases from around and under him but he slept right through it all. I only had a couple of items to pay for and caught up with them in them at the door. Dad was pushing the now half full buggy and Mom had Junior over her shoulder, still sleeping soundly.
    I despise having to go to Walmart but my medicine is ½ the CVS cost so I force myself. If I could have a Walmart experience like that little man, I wouldn’t mind it at all.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 7, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Those Pralines look so good, but unlike you, Cindy and the rest of the bunch, I can gain 5 pounds just looking at ’em. I usually eat my fill of Zachery Cherry Candy this time of the year, but it’s so easy to get choked on those things.
    Chitter and Chatter’s pictures when they were just little things are so cute. My girls were once like that and they are the Joy of my Heart. Now both have given me Granddaughters to enjoy…Ken

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for the recipe! We have lots of pecans and this recipe will put them to good use. They look delicious!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 7, 2015 at 9:44 am

    I need to purchase me another candy thermometer, yep, broke mine after making some Christmas hard candy last year! This week would be a perfect candy making week, pralines, divinity, hard candy, peanut brittle or fudge.
    The humidity is moving out and the outside temperatures are just cold enough.
    My husband’s Mother would never make those types of candies on a rainy or high humidity day.
    She said they would never set right or would be too sugary or too hard….I think, hence the use of the candy thermometer! Still a risk, she would say! ha
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Do you make divinity?

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    December 7, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Tipper, I had to giggle when I read your post where you said you took the girls with you grocery shopping and put them in the “buggy.” That is another one of those words I use but years ago my teen age son told me that was a shopping cart and I said call it what you will but I call it a buggy. lol I had never tasted a Praline until about 8 years ago my husband and I stopped in Savannah, Georgia and walking down River Street we saw a candy store. They were giving out tiny samples. Well, one tiny sample and I immediately spun around and into that candy store I walked and bought some. They do melt in your mouth!!! Awesome taste. I am delighted to see your recipe and I’m going to surprise my husband when I make them. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    December 7, 2015 at 8:57 am

    I have never made Pralines, maybe because they seem a bit intimidating, but if you say they are turn out well I may give them a go. Thanks for recipe!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I made these from your recipe last Christmas and they were gone in no time. The best Praline recipe ever! BILO was my favorite store until they left the Louisville area in the 70s.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 7, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Your post reminds me of the expert sorghum makers who can tell by the appearance when it is time to stop cooking. Those kinds of skills that are hard, if not impossible, to explain intrique me because they involve an interaction of the senses that we are not fully aware of. In an odd turn-about, real skill allows one to pay less attention to at least some of the details without giving up quality. In other words, it becomes ‘second nature’. Those are the folks who make complex things look easy.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 7:57 am

    The picture is really whetting my taste buds. This truly a festive recipe, and, as you said, it is a keeper. I have never cooked with a candy thermometer. Something to consider this year. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 7, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Tipper, I looove your pralines! They are on of the highlights of the Christmas season! I wouldn’t dare make them….I would eat till they were gone and I’d be sick and fat. LOL!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 7:27 am

    I love that picture of the girls. I would have had a ball with them at that age. We adopted our daughter at 14 months of age and I really enjoyed watching her explore and learn about the world around her. I got to see and experience things again that I had been overlooking for way to long.

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