Line three sheet trays with foil, a silicone mat, or parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
Place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup, and salt into a large pot or dutch oven. Place the pot over medium-low heat and let the butter melt and sugars dissolve stirring occasionally.
Increase the heat up to medium stirring occasionally (make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, so nothing sticks), and bring the mixture to a low boil. Cook and stir occasionally until a candy thermometer reaches 236°F (soft ball stage) about 6-7 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecan halves, chopped pecans, and vanilla extract. Do not stir again; allow the temperature to come down to 170°F, about 15 minutes.
Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon for about a minute to slightly let it cool; the mixture will still appear slightly glossy but will start thickening.
Immediately dollop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared sheet trays ensuring that the candies are not touching. Let them rest and harden for about 8 hours or overnight. Serve immediately.
Two Types of Pecans. I used two different sizes of pecans to vary the texture throughout the finished pralines. If you only have pecan halves or chopped pecans on hand, and not both, that is okay too; Make sure you have a total of 3 cups of chopped pecans or pecan halves. The pecans add that perfect nuttiness and crunch making these some AMAZING homemade candies.
Don't Get Burned. I use a larger pot than is necessary, so I don’t get burned by the bubbling caramel. Be very careful while stirring. It might be a good idea to wear long sleeves while stirring the caramel.
Hardening Process - If you want the pralines to harden faster, then you can place the pralines in the refrigerator. However, letting them sit at room temperature and slowly harden results in a better-finished texture. It is slightly crumbly while being silky smooth at the same time, and melts in your mouth. To fully set it can take up to 8 hours or overnight.
Candy Thermometer - Use a candy thermometer to ensure the pralines reach the correct temperature and do not burn.
No Wax Paper. Cover the baking sheet with foil, silicone mat, or parchment paper. However, don't use wax paper because it can melt if you put hot candy on it.
Grainy Pralines. To prevent grainy pralines, plan to make them on a cool, dry day because if the humidity is high, the pralines can be grainy.
Salty Sweet. If you love the salty-sweet taste of candy, I recommend sprinkling Maldon flake sea salt on the tops of the pralines immediately after placing heaping tablespoons of the pralines onto the sheet trays.
Buttery Flavor. If you want a more buttery flavor, you can add butter extract at the same time that you add the vanilla.
White Spots. If any white spots form on the pralines after hardening, that is from the sugars in the mixture crystallizing. This is normal and will not affect the taste or texture.
Storing. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Freezing. Store in a freezer-safe, airtight container for up to 2 months.