dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1Place the white sugar, brown sugar, milk and corn syrup in a heavy about 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
2Stir to thoroughly dissolve.
3Measuring the temperature with a candy thermometer, stir constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon.
4When the mixture reaches "jelly" temperature on the thermometer (220 degrees), it will bubble furiously.
5Splattering is a danger (this is why you want a spoon with a long handle).
6You may wish to wear heavy rubber gloves for further protection. Continue stirring until mixture reaches 256 degrees ("medium-ball" stage).
7Remove from heat, add vanilla and let it sit for 10 minutes.
8During this time, set out the cupcake papers on the countertop and place 3-4 pecan halves in each paper.
9Beat the mixture by hand with the wooden spoon, while it is still in the pan, until it loses its glossy sheen.
10This can take up to 10 minutes or more, and calls for a strong arm.
11At this point, the mixture will very quickly begin to form lumps and harden in the pan.
12As this begins to happen, return the pan to low heat; add boiling hot water a tablespoon at a time, and beat out the lumps until nearly all are gone.
13Add just enough water so that the mixture is somewhat runny and has lost much of its previous lumpy consistency (no more than about 3/4 cup of water, and often much less.)
14Leaving a few lumps is permissible and often unavoidable.
15Remove from heat and spoon it into the cupcake papers.
16Let it harden for 20-30 minutes, then remove papers.
17Be sure not to let the papers remain on after the candy has hardened somewhat or they will be difficult to remove later.
18Store the pralines in an airtight container.