Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate Pecan Clusters

OMG! Do not make these if you are trying to lose weight - except for the Holidays - they are addictive!!!

2-1/4 cups cane sugar, divided
3/4 cup pure coconut milk (Native Forest), fat from inside of can and lid reincorporated
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup water
2-1/2 cups dry roasted, unsalted pecans (or nut, seed, or dried fruit of choice)
4 tablespoons soy-free vegan buttery spread (Earth Balance), or butter of choice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons dark rum (optional)
2-1/2 cups soy-free vegan chocolate chips (Enjoy Life)
  1. Place oven baking rack in first position; preheat oven to 425 degrees F; line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In small saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups cane sugar, coconut milk, and sea salt; place over medium heat; stir to dissolve; bring mixture to a boil; stir then remove from heat; set aside until needed.
  3. Measure pecans onto prepared baking sheet; place sheet into preheated 425 degree F oven; bake 7 minutes; remove sheet to counter to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup cane sugar and water; place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil - do not stir - cook 5 minutes; swirl liquid in pan; continue to cook 2 minutes; remove pan from heat to counter.
  5. With great care, slowly pour coconut sugar mixture into second hot sugar mixture; stir to combine (be careful as the mixture may bubble up considerably); stir in toasted pecans; return saucepan to medium high heat; place candy thermometer along side of pan; heat mixture to 242 degrees F (about 8 minutes); stir occasionally.
  6. Remove saucepan from heat; beat in Earth Balance, rum (optional), and vanilla extract; beat by hand with large spoon until mixture is very thick and impossible to stir, about 10 minutes - (if you don't mind the pecans being broken up, use an electric mixer set on low speed - beat 5 minutes instead).
  7. Using a tablespoon, scoop balls of pecan mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheet; set aside to cool or place sheet in refrigerator about 20 minutes.
  8. Place medium saucepan 1/3-filled with water over medium heat; bring to a boil; place second pan over first; add chocolate chips; stir to melt completely; using large metal slotted spoon, dip each pecan cluster in melted chocolate then place on parchment paper to cool; place full sheet in refrigerator about 30 minutes, or until chocolate is set and hard; remove to airtight storage container; store at room temperature up to 7 days.
Servings: about 24 candies
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Preheat: 425 degrees F

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