While you can scoop the candy yourself if working quickly, it’s easier and more fun to have someone help you.
- 2½ cups sugar
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- About 18 pecan halves
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly spray with cooking spray.
- In a large stainless-steel saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, ½ cup water, and salt, stirring just until moistened. Cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 260°, 10 to 12 minutes. When mixture reaches temperature near 240°, continue to next step.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form. When sugar mixture has reached 260°, slowly pour mixture into egg whites in a slow steady stream while beating. Beat on high speed until mixture holds its shape and begins to lose its gloss, 6 to 9 minutes. Immediately reduce speed to low, and add in chopped pecans and vanilla, beating just until combined.
- Working quickly with 2 spoons or a small spring-loaded scoop, immediately drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto prepared pan. Gently press a pecan half on top of each candy. Let stand until dry and can easily be removed from pan, about 6 hours. Candies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Try swapping the vanilla for peppermint or orange extract and the chopped pecans for finely chopped dried fruit.
SLOWLY ADD HOT SYRUP
When adding the hot sugar syrup, be sure to pour it in a slow, thin stream. You want to aim into the egg whites so it’s not running down the side of the bowl, and do not pour into the beater or it will send the hot syrup flying.
CHECK THE CANDY BASE
When the mixture is ready for the pecans and vanilla, it will have lost its gloss, appearing almost like it’s dry, and hold its shape very well.
Use two spoons to scoop the candy mixture onto the greased paper. Don’t try to make perfect balls; the swoops give the candy its iconic appearance.