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Aunt Bill’s Brown Candy

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Description

Aunt Bill’s is a “caramelly” pecan “fudge.” I’m quoting the caramelly and fudge because it’s really neither. Caramel and fudge wish they were this good (as do pralines).

As a kid, this was my favorite thing that came out of Granny’s kitchen. According to the internet, the recipe was published in the Daily Oklahoman in 1936. It’s awesome stuff and well worth the time.

I suggest using a cast iron pan and wooden spoons.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups Granulated Sugar, Divided Use
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 2 pounds Pecan Halves
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preparation

1. Butter a 9×13 inch dish and a medium, heavy saucepan. If you have a cast iron sauce pan, use it.

2. In the buttered saucepan, combine 4 cups sugar and the cream. I usually put this on the lowest setting on the stove and stir it occasionally.

3. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, pour the remaining 2 cups sugar. (Again, if you have cast iron and wooden spoons, use them. Do NOT use a plastic spoon – trust me on this one.)

4. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar begins to melt.
Continue to cook and stir the sugar in the skillet until it is completely melted and light brown. Do not overcook this.

5. Once the sugar in the skillet is melted, pour it very slowly, in a thin stream, into the lightly simmering cream mixture, stirring constantly. This step may take five minutes, and works best if someone strong pours the melted sugar very slowly. Please don’t rush this step. Note that the melted sugar will harden a bit upon hitting the cream/sugar mixture. Don’t worry about this. It’s normal.

6. Now that everything named sugar or cream is in the same pan, heat it without stirring (yeah!), to 242 to 248 degrees F (116 to 120 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a firm but pliable ball. In candy making circles, this is known as “soft ball”. Naturally, it really helps to have a candy thermometer for this part.

7. Remove the sauce pan from heat and stir in the baking soda (mixture will foam). Drop the butter into the foaming mixture and let rest without stirring 30 minutes. Now check out your forearms oh yeah!

8. At this point I usually work on the pecans, picking out any low quality individuals and making sure there are no shell fragments left.

9. Once the 30-minute timer goes off, add the vanilla to the cream mixture and prepare your forearms for a quick 10 to 15 minute stirring workout. Your goal is to stir the “sheen” off of this melting pot of buttery, creamy, sugary goodness.

10. At this point, fold in the pecans and quickly turn and spread the candy into the previously prepared 9×13 inch dish. Let it cool until just warm and cut in 1 inch pieces.

11. NOW check out your forearms! Impressive eh?

6 Comments

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Colleen Hosford on 12.21.2017

I first tasted Aunt Bill’s when I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There was a lady who made it every Christmas and would sell it in a quart jar to her regular customers. She never gave the recipe out that I knew of. We loved it and each had a few pieces each Christmas. A few years later after I was married, a family friend said she had the recipe and shared it. My husband and I have made it every Christmas for over 50 years. It does take both of us when the melted sugar has to be slowly poured into the other mixture. Our recipe is almost the same except mine called for 1/4 tsp. soda and only 2 cups of chopped pecans. The process is almost the same except after removing from heat and adding the soda, we need to stir vigorously as it foams up. Then add the butter allowing it to melt as you stir. Cool for 20 min. and then add the vanilla and start beating. In later years I have been using my hand electric mixer for most of the time. When it starts looking like it’s close to stopping, I beat the rest of the time by hand.
It does take time but it is so good and well worth it! I’m glad to know others enjoy it as well.

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Jack on 12.18.2010

Glad to hear there is interest in the recipe. @TheFrozen5, it would be awesome if you could scan that recipe. I’d love to see it.

@debsmith124, you’re more than welcome.

I uploaded a picture of the candy today!!

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debsmith124 on 12.12.2010

I was so excited to see this recipe. My grandmother used to make this candy at Christmas time and we all loved it. I have a copy of her handwritten version of the recipe and it is exactly the same except for the amount of baking soda. Her version calls for 1/4 teaspoon. I had to call my mother and tell her about finding the recipe. It’s wonderful to know a little more about the origins of the recipe. Grandma always called it Oklahoma Brown Candy. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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thefrozen5 on 12.9.2010

I have a original copy of this recipe from the Oklahoman and it’s a bit different. My Grandmother in law made it for her brothers during World War Two and sent it for a taste of home, Blackwell Oklahoma.
Regards,
Christian

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Jack on 12.7.2010

Hey Shari, that’s a really good question. I suppose the last part, where you are trying to beat the sheen off of the candy could be done in a mixer, but that mixer better have some serious ooomph. Otherwise you could just enlist some family to help stir.

All of the other stirring has to be done by hand.

Jack

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Lyndye on 12.25.2011

This is the most delicious carmel-like yummy recipe. I have seen the old version of this recipe from the Oklahoman and it was very hard to follow. Your more user-friendly directions made it easier to understand. It took 2 of us to accomplish it Christmas Eve, but it was totally worth it! I did, however, need a larger saucepan than just a medium one. When I was in the “don’t stir while it reaches 242 degrees” stage, it over flowed some. But it still was great! Thanks!

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