Katherine Hysmith for the boston globe

Makes 2 dozen

Where European pralines are brittle, this traditional Southern recipe calls for buttermilk, which gives the nut clusters a fudgy, crumbly texture. The exact pronunciation of this little confection is a point of contention throughout the South (some say “prah-leen” others say “pray-leen”), where they are a sweet staple in cookie jars and at bake sales. You need a candy thermometer to make these.

1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans

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1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large saucepan off the heat, combine the buttermilk, baking soda, and sugar. Set on medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to let the mixture bubble until it turns a deep amber color and large bubbles begin to form (this is the softball stage, or 234 degrees on a candy thermometer).

3. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Fold in the pecans and continue to stir until slightly creamy.

4. Working quickly before the mixture begins to set, drop spoonfuls onto the parchment. Set aside to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Katherine Hysmith