I've got a soft spot for caramel. A local ice cream company which proudly uses raw jersey milk, prepares a salted caramel ice cream that is over-the-top delicious! On days out running errands, I can't help but purchase a single serve cup and tear into it like a wild beast. The soft and gooey texture mixed with the fine balance of sweet and salty make caramel such a yummy treat.
Camille and I are visiting friends in Canada and have been given free reign to raid their cupboards and whip up some goodies for their Christmas party. After opening up a drawer and spotting a bag of pecans and dates sitting right next to each other, I knew exactly the course I was laid.
You may have heard of pecan turtles and while I originally set out to create a fun "animal" looking treat, I really don't have the patience to make sure the pecans go into the exact place to create feet, a head, and a tail. So, a small mound it is and clusters they will be. In the end, the treat is tasty and will likely only last a few minutes after getting served!
The recipe below is slightly untraditional as I skipped the typical heavy dairy and sugar based caramel which many folks would have difficulties getting to the right consistency. Instead I combined nutty tasting ghee with dates and honey to create a very similar taste, and likely a bit better for you anyways. You may end up with a bit of leftover caramel so enjoy it on apple slices, or bake mini cookies and use it as a filling!
Ghee Caramel Pecan Clusters
Ingredients: Makes a few dozen clusters
- 4 cups pecans
- 20 Medjool dates, soaked for 20-30 minutes in warm water
- 1/4 cup melted ghee
- 2-3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 pound chocolate chips (if you are savy, make your own, or buy store bought chips. I love Lily's)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Place the pecans on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for about 8 minutes or until the pecans are nice and toasty. Remove and let cool.
- Once the dates are soft, drain the liquid but reserve the water for later. Remove the pits then place the dates into a high speed blender along with the ghee, sweetener, vanilla, and salt. Blend well, until smooth and creamy, using the date soaking water to help achieve the right consistency. Once complete, transfer contents into a jar and set aside.
- Melt the chocolate over a double boiler then set up a few sheets of parchment paper over a cutting board or something sturdy in your kitchen.
- Start making the clusters by pouring about 1 tablespoon of chocolate onto the parchment. Follow that with about 3-4 pecans. Use less if they are large. Place in the fridge to set.
- Next, smear a teaspoon or so of the caramel over the pecans, allowing the center to be a bit thicker then the edges. Place in the fridge to set.
- Finish by pouring a good amount of chocolate over the caramel. You can completely cover the caramel or leave a little exposed.
- Place in the fridge and leave them there until ready to serve. Enjoy!