Boston Cream Candy

READY IN: 50mins
YIELD: 1 pound




  • Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan.
  • Line the pan with a piece of parchment large enough to hang over two sides.
  • Butter the paper, too, and tuck it flat against the pan.
  • Put the chopped pecan pieces in a handy spot where you'll be working.
  • Combine the sugar, salt, Karo syrup, half-and-half, cream, and butter in a heavy-based 3-qt pan (do not use a smaller pan), stirring with a wooden spoon over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • This can take a while, and it's hard to see; you should feel the texture (rub a little between your fingers or run your finger along the mixture clinging to the spoon) to be sure all the sugar is dissolved.
  • Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture foams to a boil.
  • Add the baking soda.
  • Lower the heat and stir like mad.
  • The mixture will double in volume and then gradually subside and begin to take on a golden hue.
  • After the mixture settles a bit, put in a warmed candy thermometer.
  • Continue to stir constantly, scraping the sides, and cook over medium-low heat until the thermometer registers just 240°F.
  • Watch very carefully, as the thermometer will hover at 239° for a while and then move up.
  • You must remove the mixture before it passes 240°F.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and take out the thermometer.
  • Continue to stir quickly.
  • The candy will look like a loose caramel sauce.
  • Add the vanilla (watch out, it may sputter) and stir carefully to incorporate.
  • Add the pecans and continue stirring quickly.
  • Don't take your eyes off the mixture at this point.
  • Watch and feel it as it begins to thicken, lighten in color, and become harder to stir.
  • When it has thickened enough to leave a path on the bottom of the pan while you're stirring, it's just about ready.
  • The moment you notice that the mixture is just beginning to lose its glossy shine, turn it out into the buttered pan.
  • Don't wait until the mixture looks completely matte or it will be too dry when you try to cut it.
  • If you stop stirring at the right moment, the mixture will firm up almost the second it hits the pan.
  • Too soon, it will never be anything more than caramel (although very good caramel); too long, it will harden in the pot.