I fully intended to post this yesterday to finish out my homemade gift-giving ideas, which should have been easy to do, given it was supposed to be my first day of holiday vacation. Unfortunately, our production schedule at work barrels through the holidays, so instead of sleeping in, lazily making breakfast, and finishing this post, I instead spent 11 hours glued to my laptop and iPad reviewing items. I'll spare you the details -- let's just say that "spotchecking" doesn't go over so well with this not-so-reformed perfectionist.
But, let's get back more interesting topics and the focus of this post -- bourbon-vanilla candied pecans! I will be the first to admit that these are dangerously, dangerously good. So good, in fact, that I am glad that we are set to give these as gifts to others, as neither D nor I can be trusted around them.
One of my favorite websites, A Practical Wedding (which I first started reading during the days of my own wedding planning back in 2009, and still read today) recently featured free downloadable favor or gift labels, which I took full advantage of in packaging my candied pecans. You can download the labels here and here (there are two different styles to choose from).
The candied pecans themselves come together pretty quickly. You'll need a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the sugar mixture. You can find these at cooking or home goods specialty shops, some grocery stores, and online. (I bought mine from Amazon.)
Bourbon-Vanilla Candied Pecans (adapted from this Taste of Home recipe)
makes 3 cups
3 cups pecan halves
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bourbon
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place the pecans in an oven-safe container and place in the oven to warm.
3. In a large sauce pot, combine together the sugar, water, salt, and cinnamon. On low heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
4. Increase the temperature to medium-high and cook (do not stir) until the temperature reaches 236 degrees (use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature). Depending on your range, this should take between 5 and 20 minutes.
5. Take the sugar mixture off the heat and stir in the vanilla and bourbon. Add in the warmed pecans and stir until evenly coated.
6. Pour the coated pecans onto a parchment- (or silpat-) lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
7. Spread the pecans onto a large sheet of parchment paper to cool.
8. Package the candied pecans in an airtight container.