Growing up, we would travel to Florida every fall. It was a different time then, and my parents didn't think twice about pulling me out of school for a week or ten days in October to head south. Teachers were excited for me. They would load me up with daily homework and happily send me on my way. I can very clearly remember waking each morning, sitting at the hotel desk in the room, and finishing up my academic requirements before hitting Disney or the beach. First work, then play, right?
But even more clearly than that, I remember what we'd always do as soon as we'd cross the Florida state line. We'd stop at the roadside stand for fresh orange juice and then the first Stuckey's we'd see to get Ma a pecan log. She loved those things and still does. My family doesn't make annual Florida trips anymore, but my sweet dad does travel with his job, and when he gets home, many times you'll find a pecan log sticking out of his pocket from a Cracker Barrel he's encountered. Ma lights up when she sees it; she knows it's for her.
This year I decided I was going to try my hand at a homemade version. I have wanted to try for what seems like forever, and this year was the year. Ma has made it very clear she wants nothing for Christmas (except the annual calendar of pictures I make her, of which she reminds me from January until November). But I am fairly certain that when she opens up one of her favorite confections, she'll receive it with a glad heart.
I can't say I've been a fan of marshmallow cream in the past. I'm a chocolate girl, through and through. But, folks, you have to hear me when I say these are so very, very good. They are easy. They are seriously fun to make. And the combination of the cream, the vanilla and almond flavorings, dipped first in caramel and then rolled in pecans... Oh. My. I love me some Cracker Barrel, but I'm here to say there's no comparison.
I have wrapped the eight logs my recipe made in brown paper-like tissue and tied the ends off with raffia. They just have a nostalgic feel and would make a great hostess gift, stocking stuffer or quick sweet addition to your dessert table this weekend. An old-fashioned (family) candy Christmas. Clark Griswold would be proud.
So, what's your favorite Christmas candy? Would love to know!
one year ago: aunt brenda's cranberry jello salad, a feast for the birds, grandma puryear's punch
Old-Fashioned Pecan Logs
makes approximately eight 4-inch logs
- 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lb confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 1 lb caramels
- 2-3 tbsp evaporated milk
- 2-3 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1. Mix cream, almond and vanilla in a large bowl (wooden spoon works well).
2. Add in sifted sugar, kneading into the cream mixture as it's added. This sounds like it's going to be hard, but it isn't at all. Think of watching taffy being made, and how it's pulled and stretched. It takes a little while, but eventually, as you press and fold the marshmallow mixture, the sugar will become incorporated.
3. Roll cream into four eight-inch logs, about an inch in diameter. Cut in half and wrap in wax paper, twisting ends to seal. Store in refrigerator overnight, or at least 4-5 hours.
4. About 20 minutes before removing logs, melt caramels in double broiler. You can do this by placing a heat safe bowl in a sauce pan with 1 to 2 inches of boiling water. Make sure the bowl is bigger than the pan, so that it sits above the water and not in it. Stir intermittently to keep caramels moving and melting evenly. You can also heat in microwave in 15-20 second increments, stirring each time once caramels begin to melt.
5. Add milk as caramels melt to ease stirring and thin out the caramel.
6. Remove logs from fridge and dip in caramel (I used tongs), allowing some of the excess to drip off. Place in pan of chopped pecans and scoop pecan over log to help with the rolling of the log to cover. This keeps it from sticking to your hands. As you roll, gently press to ensure pecans stick.
7. Re-wrap logs in wax paper and store in a cool, dry place.