Asides from jewelry, handbags and camera lenses, I think edible gifts are the best to give and receive! Especially chocolate gifts. Who can resist chocolate? I sure can’t.
This is the first year I’m done with all my Christmas shopping days before Christmas Eve. I don’t know what’s happening. I’m usually among those crazed people at the mall frantically searching for the perfect gift super last minute. Nope. Not this year. I finished all the shopping and wrapping last Friday. To celebrate, I made these milk chocolate pecan cups.
I thought it was about time to elevate the good ol’ peanut butter cup. As a kid, I never knew about almond butter, pistachio butter, sunflower seed butter, cashew butter (the list goes on and on…)– existed or that such nut/seed butters were possible. When I’d go down the aisle at the supermarket I only had a choice between smooth or crunchy peanut butter. And when I’d go to one of the fancier markets, I’d sometimes find unsalted peanut butter. Sometimes. But nowadays, I find the amount of choices of nut/seed butters intimidating and overwhelming.
So when my friends at Chocoley sent me a box of chocolate goodies, I knew exactly what to do with them. I wanted to tackle nut butters and make my own! With the help of a food processor, you can pretty much make any nut butter you’d like.
No nut is more holiday to me than pecans. Therefore, pecan butter it is! Given the choice between dark, milk, or white chocolate- I think the distinct rich flavor of pecans work perfectly with milk chocolate. But to satisfy the dark chocolate fanatic in me, I sprinkled a little cacao nibs on top of the finished milk chocolate pecan cups.
Making your own chocolate candies is easier than you might think. It’s a little time consuming, but not at all difficult. While you could make giant chocolate cups using a standard muffin tin, I opted for cute, small chocolate cups. A mini muffin tin does the job wonderfully.
Chocoley makes compound chocolates that don’t require tempering- which makes this candy making process even easier. I added about 1/2 tablespoon of melted chocolate into each cavity. Using the back of the 1/2 tablespoon, I gently pushed the chocolate up the sides of the mini muffin wrapper. Place the muffin tin the fridge just until the chocolate sets, about 3-5 minutes. Don’t leave it in too long because condensation may occur.
Spoon in about 1/2 tablespoon of pecan butter into the chocolate cups. Spread the pecan butter evenly, making sure there aren’t any air bubbles. Add another 1/2 tablespoon of melted chocolate over pecan butter. Immediately, sprinkle sea salt and cacoa nibs over melted chocolate. Put the chocolates back in the fridge for another 3-5 minutes until set. Remove milk chocolate pecan butter cups from the muffin tin. Eat to your heart’s content, or package them for neighbors, friends, and family. At this point, you don’t need to put the chocolates back in the fridge. They’re fine at room temperature.
Who knew pecan butter would be so delicious and addicting?
When I presented these to Alex to taste test, he thought yay! peanut butter cups! But once he bit in, his eyes lit up. What IS this?! When I explained pecan butter, he went on and on about how these milk chocolate pecan cups were way better than pecan pie. (He proceeded to eat about half of the batch I made. After he had his fill, I had to make another batch.)
Most pecan desserts are super sweet and full of sugar. My pecan butter is lightly sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup. The only real sweetness of this treat comes from the milk chocolate. The combination of milk chocolate and sea salt really allows to the natural pecan flavor to shine.
I find candy making very relaxing and super rewarding (meaning I enjoy eating the ones that aren’t good enough to give away). These make delicious stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and general I appreciate you gifts.
To me, there is nothing better than giving/receiving gifts that you can’t find in stores. Gifts from the heart, that’s what you should be sharing this holiday season.
AHHH! THREE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!
Milk Chocolate Pecan Cups
Yield: 24 mini cups
- 2 cup pecans, lightly toasted
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- Line mini muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside. Gently melt compound milk chocolate according to package instructions. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon of melted chocolate into each muffin cavity. Using the back of the tablespoon, gently push the melted chocolate up the sides of the paper liner. Place muffin tin the fridge until the chocolate sets, about 3-5 minutes. Do not leave the chocolate in the fridge for too long, as condensation may occur.
- Spoon about 1/2 tablespoon of pecan butter into the set chocolate cups. Spread the pecan butter evenly, making sure there aren't any air bubbles. Add another 1/2 tablespoon of melted chocolate over pecan butter. Immediately sprinkle sea salt and cacao nibs over chocolate. Place muffin tin back in the fridge for another 3-5 minutes until chocolate is set. Remove milk chocolate pecan cups from the muffin tin. At this point, you don't need to put the chocolates back in the fridge. They will be fine at room temperature.
- To make pecan butter: Place warm, lightly toasted pecans into a food processor. Pulse until pecans have broken down and are crumbly. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough grinding. With the food processor running, add maple syrup. Continue to let machine run until mixture is thick and creamy. Add sea salt, adjust to taste if necessary. Transfer pecan butter to a small airtight container. Keep at room temperature or store in the fridge until ready to use.
The Little Epicurean