*This post is sponsored in partnership with The American Pecan Council. All opinions and words are my own, as always!
I’ve never been one to jump on any sort of diet trend. I am not opposed, however, to making dietary lifestyle changes and am participating in a reset of just that this January. I’ve cut out all dairy, sugars, and grains for a month to see just how these things affect my overall health – adding them back in slowly once the month is up should give me a good idea. But guys? This is a dessert blog for crying out loud!! I obviously have something of a sweet tooth and giving up sugar completely is no easy feat. Enter: these Pecan Superfood Cups. Like a peanut butter cup, but full of good for you fats, protein, and without all of the added sugars.
Have you ever tried pecan butter? It’s my go to for dipping apples. SO good. Now, these cups don’t contain actual pecan butter, but the pecans are blended down with dates to make a sweet, nutty paste that is scented with vanilla and is the perfect foil for the rich, unsweetened, melt in your mouth chocolate that surrounds it.
Not only are these snackerific cups void of any added sugars, but the superfood content is soaring! Coconut butter, cacao butter, cacao powder, chia, hemp, these are all well known foods that are full of health benefits. But the star of the cups? That pretty pecan.
Pecans are my absolute favorite nut, just thanks to their flavor and texture alone. But when you add in their powerful health benefits? Who could resist?! Pecans have been studied for more than two decades and research shows they can help maintain a healthy heart. They boast antioxidant vitamins, dietary fiber, minerals, and phytonutrients. About 19 pecan halves are a good source of thiamin, fiber, zinc, copper and manganese. There is nothing better than loving something that’s good for you!
- FOR THE FILLING:
- ½ pound Pecan Halves
- 7 Medjool Dates, pits removed
- seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean(or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
- 1 tablespoon Chia seeds(optional)
- 1 tablespoon Hemp Hearts(optional)
- Pecan Halves, for garnish
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE:
- ⅓ cup Cacao Butter, chopped
- ⅓ cup Coconut Butter
- ¾ cup Coconut Oil
- 3½ tablespoons Cocoa or Cacao Powder
- FOR THE FILLING:
- Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in an oven preheated to 375. Let roast for 8-10 minutes, or until they give off a nutty aroma and develop a golden brown color - watch closely as nuts can burn easily. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Place cooled nuts, dates, vanilla bean seeds, and salt in a high speed blender or food processor. Process for several minutes, scraping down the sides as needed, until a coarse paste forms. Mixture should easily stick together when pressed. IF adding chia or hemp hearts, pulse them in at this point.
- Scoop mounds of mixture about 1½ -2 tablespoons in volume onto a sheet of parchment paper. Roll each mound into a circle then flatten into a disc about ½" thick with the palm of your hand. Repeat with remaining date/pecan mounds until they are all formed into discs.
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE:
- Place the cacao butter, coconut butter, and coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until all butters are completely melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until a completely smooth and very runny melted chocolate forms.
- Line up 18 silicone molds(roughly the same size and shape as a peanut butter cup) on a baking sheet.
- Fill each mold ½ way full with the chocolate mixture. Press a date/pecan disc into each mold so that it sinks into the chocolate. Divide the rest of the chocolate mixture between the molds, covering each date/pecan disc completely.
- Place in the fridge. After molds have been chilling for 30 minutes, top each with a pecan half. Continue to chill for 2 hours, until the chocolate is completely set.
- Remove cups from molds and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Will keep for several weeks in the fridge and months in the freezer.
- Note: According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecans, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of pecans (28g) has 18g unsaturated fat and only 2g saturated fat.