Soft-ball stage (234°) is a candy-making term. Drop a small amount of boiling mixture (in this recipe, the sugar, milk, and butter combination) into a glass cup of cold water. When it forms a soft ball that flattens as you remove it from the water, you've reached the soft-ball stage.
2 1/2 cups pecan halves
4 tablespoons salt, divided
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 450°. Soak pecan halves in water to cover 20 minutes; drain well. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. salt evenly over the bottom of a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Arrange pecans in a single layer in pan; sprinkle evenly with 2 more Tbsp. salt. Place pecans in hot oven, and turn off oven. Let stand in oven 1 hour and 30 minutes. Toss pecans in a strainer to remove excess salt. Coarsely chop pecans, and cool.
Bring sugar, evaporated milk, and butter to a boil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat; boil, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234° (about 7 minutes).
Remove from heat; stir in marshmallows and chocolate morsels until smooth. Stir in 2 tsp. vanilla and chopped pecans.
Pour into a buttered 8-inch square pan; cool completely. Cut into 1-inch squares.