Snacks & Treats
How to make homemade chocolate-caramel pecan clusters
By Jen Kossowan, Mama.Papa.Bubba
May 28, 2018
While I really love making nutritious food for my family, we also all really love sweets.
Thankfully, there’s pretty much a way to make every sweet treat more healthful when making it at home, and these naturally sweetened chocolate-caramel pecan clusters do not disappoint! They’re also easy enough to whip up with the kids, and perfect as a delicious homemade gift — they'd look beautiful in a mason jar tied together with some baker's twine.
What You'll Need
- 1/2 cup of cocoa
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil in its liquid state
- 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
- a muffin tin
- 12 silicon muffin liners
- 10 big medjool dates
- 1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
- generous pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup of whole pecans, toasted
There are a couple of different parts to this recipe, so let’s run through what you’ll need to make them. First up, the chocolate coating. Now, this can be done one of two ways: either by melting your chocolate of choice (we use dark) or by making your own chocolate using a few simple ingredients. If you’re gifting the clusters, I recommend going with melting actual chocolate as it does not have to be refrigerated once set. If you are okay with keeping your clusters cool in the fridge or freezer, making your own chocolate is a fantastic option. It’s super easy and less fussy than using a double boiler in my opinion, plus it also means that making these is possible even when your house is completely void of chocolate (win!)
How It's Made
- Whisk together 1/2 cup of cocoa, 1/2 cup of liquid coconut oil and 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup.
- Whisk until smooth! So don't hesitate to whisk, whisk, whisk!
Next, spoon approximately a tablespoon of your homemade chocolate into each silicone muffin liner and then pop the entire pan into the fridge or freezer to set for 5 to 10 minutes.
If you’re using regular chocolate, just melt one cup carefully and then use it just as we’re using the homemade stuff here.
While waiting for the chocolate to set up just a little bit, make your caramel.
How It's Made
- Add medjool dates, 1/3 cup of maple syrup and a big pinch of sea salt to a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Stop the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times throughout the process.
Before long, you’ll have a creamy — almost fluffy — homemade caramel sauce. YUM.
OK, set your caramel aside and retrieve your muffin tin. By now, the chocolate should be just setting but not rock hard. Gently set a layer of toasted pecans down onto the chocolate and then add another full layer of pecans on top. We usually end up using between 8 and 10 pecans per silicone cup and this gives the finished clusters a really good crunch.
Time for the next layer! Using a teaspoon to scoop and a teaspoon to scrape, place a dollop of your date caramel into each silicone cup, flattening out the top a little bit with the back of your spoon if needed.
We’re almost there! Use your remaining chocolate to cover the caramel dollop. It’s absolutely OK if there’s some caramel or nuts peeking out from under the top layer of chocolate, but if you prefer the clusters to be fully enclosed, picking up the silicone cups and rotating them so that the chocolate spreads is really helpful.
Last step! Pop the clusters into the fridge or freezer to set completely.
When ready, you’ll be able to pop them out of the silicone cups easily. Don’t they look delicious?
Store these in the refrigerator or freezer unless of course you’ve used actual chocolate, in which case they’re fine to keep at room temperature.