Spicy Dark Chocolate-Pecan Bark is my latest obsession. Cayenne-spiced pecans are added to melted and tempered 85% chocolate for a sweet and spicy flavor experience. Keep reading to learn how to make this easy treat for the holidays and/or gift-giving.
Raise your hand if you have a wicked sweet tooth. Mine is up, too. It has been over two years that I’ve been trying to cut sugar from my diet. Well-l-l-l-l-l, as much as I can without being a total freak. I’ve read that eventually one loses his taste for sweets. “How long does it take?” is what I’m asking.
So here I am with my latest “sweet substitute.” For awhile it was these sugar-free, grain-free chocolate chip cookies. I’m off those for now because I’ve found a replacement.
About Trader Joe’s 85% Chocolate Bar
I make Spicy Dark Chocolate-Pecan Bark with The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar from Trader Joe’s. It’s 85% chocolate. Yes, I know it contains a little sugar, but every heart needs some chocolate. Right?
Reviews of this particular brand vary (here and here for starters), however, it’s cheap and suits this candy perfectly, IMHO. Ultimately, melting and spreading it thin makes it taste like pieces of chocolate that fall off of a Dairy Queen dipped cone. Sweet! (Another recipe with the same phenomena.)
Alternatively, I’ve tried sugar-free chocolate. Not worth it in my opinion. Maybe I haven’t tried the right brand.
On the other hand, if 85% chocolate is too bitter for you, try 72%, or even bittersweet chocolate.
Spicy Dark Chocolate Pecan Bark is a two-step process but still very easy. First, bake the spicy pecans. (Recipe below.) Dare ya’ not to nibble.
Second, after pecans are cool, chop and add them to melted and tempered chocolate. Finally, chill before breaking into pieces.
That’s it. No thermometer. No stirring for hours. No worries about sugar crystals.
How To Make Spicy Pecans
Kitchen Secret: These cayenne-spiced pecans have multiple uses. For example, try them coarsely chopped and added to chicken salad for an interesting layer of flavor and crunch. Or, sprinkle them over any green salad, especially delicious with a strawberry or poppy seed dressing. In addition, I’m thinking these would be wonderful in brownies but haven’t tried that yet.
Making the Dark Chocolate Bark
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large egg white
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar (I substitute Swerve, see notes)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 1/4 cups pecan halves
- 2 packages of 3.5 ounce 85% chocolate (or your own personal favorite)
Directions for the Spicy Pecans:
- Melt butter and set aside to cool.
- Combine egg white and salt in a small bowl and beat/whisk until foamy.
- Mix in sugar, Worcestershire, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
- Stir in cooled butter and pecans.
- Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (I like non-stick foil) or a silicone baking sheet.
- Spread pecans over sheet in an even layer.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Directions for the Dark Chocolate Bark:
- Melt 3/4 of chocolate in the microwave set on MEDIUM. I start with 1-1/2 minute, then stir. Thereafter, stir every 30 seconds until chocolate is melted.
- Chop remaining bar very finely. Add to melted chocolate and stir until all chocolate is melted.
- Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones) with wax paper. Spread chocolate out as thin as you possibly can. Chill. When hard, break into bite-size pieces, but not too big. Store in the fridge or freezer. This candy definitely "melts in your hands."
If your favorite chocolate bars are a little bigger than 3.5 ounce, no worries. Just add a few more pecans.
If you are not familiar with Swerve, it is a sugar substitute made with erythritol. If you decide to use it, watch the pecans carefully while baking as they tend to brown quicker than when using regular sugar. I reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F and the time down to 20-30 minutes.