A lot of people may know this under another name. For 50 years, since 1957-or 58, this candy has been Aunt Bill's Brown Candy. My ex-mother in law told me she remembered her mother making this as a girl. Made only at Thanksgiving and Christmas,was a very special treat. I am positive no one wants to know the frustration I went through, with my few failures. No, the recipe is not that complicated, or confusing. It was that I wanted it perfect, very first time. Didnt happen, took several tries before I got it right. Perhaps some good cooks, out in Just A Pinch land, will do it right, 1st time.
Put 1 pint of sugar into heavy, cast iron skillet, place over low heat and stir with "wooden spoon" until sugar is melted and light to medium brown in color. Keep stirring and do not hurry melting process.
When you have sugar starting to melt, put the other 2 pints of sugar and 1 pint of cream in deep kettle, set over low heat and start cooking slowly, while sugar in skillet is melting. Bring cream and sugar mixture to low-medium sustained boil.
When sugar in skillet is melted, pour in thin stream "about size of knitting needle" into kettle with cream and sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Cook slowly, stirring often till a "firm," but not "hard" ball forms when dropped in water.
After this test is reached, set off heat, immediately add soda and stir till mixture foams. Add butter, stir till butter melts. Allow to set 10 minutes; then begin to beat with wooden spoon.(wooden spoon only).Keep beating till mixture starts to make a "snapping and popping sound" and starts to thicken.Dont wait too long to add pecans and vanilla, this can set up in a few seconds. Pour into buttered pans and cool.
DO NOT BEAT WITH ELECTRIC MIXER OR METAL SPOON!!!!! ! STIR WITH WOODEN SPOON ONLY!!!! This candy keeps very well in foil lined shoe or boot boxes with lids. Dont laugh, best way I found to keep the candy. Recipe written just as it was given to me 50 years ago. Hopefully it will become one of your favorites.