Chocolate Covered Pecans
My Chocolate Covered Pecans are the ultimate mix of a sweet and savory snack. The bitter dark chocolate and the creamy, protein-rich pecans and flakey salt combine to make a delicious and satiating snack. Eating just a few of this nutrient dense snack can keep me going for hours!
I love chocolate. It’s great alone and adds a complex flavor that shines in so many desserts, and even in savory dishes like my Barley Bean Chili. One of my favorite ways to enjoy chocolate is a 70% dark chocolate bar, it has just the right blend of bitterness and sweetness and I find I’m satisfied by just a few nibbles.
Unlike most chocolate treats like cakes, cookies and ice cream my Chocolate Covered Pecans are nutrient dense, instead of calorie dense. Chocolate Covered Pecans have a higher percent of chocolate than most desserts, providing a rich array of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
Chocolate also known as cocoa in its pure form, is rich in flavanols, which are potent antioxidants found in higher concentration than in most foods. Chocolate also has a number of minerals necessary for our vascular health, such as magnesium, copper, potassium and calcium. A 100 calorie serving of dark chocolate (70-85%) has 9% of the recommended dietary allowance of magnesium! 1
Bean to Bar
Ever wonder where chocolate comes from? To answer that we go back in time to the ancient Mayan civilizations of Central America who are thought to have first enjoyed chocolate as a bitter fermented beverage that was mixed with spices or wine. Mayans revered chocolate for its health benefits, such as stimulating our nervous system, improving digestion and bowel regularity and weight gain.1
Chocolate comes from the cacao pod, which is about the size of a butternut squash . The cacao beans (or seeds) are removed from the pod and go through a process of fermentation, drying and are eventually roasted. The roasted beans are then separated from the shells into cocoa nibs, which you may have seen at your grocery store or in different recipes.
These cocoa nibs are then ground into a liquid called chocolate liquor, which is separated from the fatty portion called cocoa butter. The chocolate liquor is refined to produce cocoa solids, which is then turned into all types of chocolate products, such as what I used to make my Chocolate Covered Pecans. Going from bean to bar is time and labor intensive and is why dark chocolate can be so pricey!
Types of Chocolate
To make my Chocolate Covered Pecans you can use any type of chocolate, the higher the percentage of chocolate the more bitter and “chocolatey” it will be! Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids and milk chocolate has anywhere from 10-50% cocoa solids. Milk chocolate is typically much less expensive because chocolate, the expensive ingredient is replaced with milk, sugar, butter fat and vegetable oils.
Pecans are a tree nut with a creamy smooth taste thanks to their high fat content, that like chocolate can be enjoyed on their own or made into –– Chocolate Covered Pecans! Pecans, similar to other nuts like walnuts and almonds are nutrient dense, a one ounce portion or about 15 pecan halves includes 196 calories, 2.6 grams of protein and 2.7 grams of fiber!
Pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.2 The high fat content of pecans is thanks to unsaturated fats, which are heart healthy! Multiple studies have shown that a diet rich in nuts, reduces risk of heart disease and can lead to people living longer lives.3
If you can sneak your way into a restaurant kitchen you may notice the chefs add a sprinkle of salt––flakey (also spelled “flaky”) salt!–– right before a dish is served. Also known as finishing salt, it adds a salty, crunchy voice and texture that enhances the flavor of any dish. Try adding it right before serving and savory dishes (steak, roasted vegetables) and before baking (cookies, banana bread). Maldon Sea Salt is my favorite brand.
The easiest way to make my Chocolate Covered Pecans is to melt the dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, then dip the pecan halves and place on a cookie tray. While the chocolate is still warm sprinkle the flakey sea salt over the tray of Chocolate Covered Pecans. Then, place the tray in freezer till they are firm. Enjoy!
- Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A. Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011;15(10):2779-2811. doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3697
- FoodData Central. Accessed June 7, 2020. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/784400/nutrients
- Guasch-Ferré M, Liu X, Malik VS, et al. Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017;70(20):2519-2532. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2017.09.035
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- ¾ cup whole pecans
- Flakey sea salt
- Microwave: Place chocolate in a bowl and microwave on high for 1 minutes. Stir until smooth and melted, heating in additional 10-second increments if necessary.
- Stove: Place one inch of water into a wide saute pan and place on stove. Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it directly in the water. Bring the water to a simmer then turn off the burner and allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip half of each pecan into melted chocolate and place on baking sheet. Repeat for all pecans. Sprinkle salt over chocolate half of each pecan.
- Allow chocolate to set, can place baking sheet in refrigerator if preferred.
- Store in airtight container.