I hated nuts in any dessert when I was younger. My mom even called carrot cake boxed mix ‘spiced cake’ because I equated carrot cake with walnuts and wouldn’t have eaten it. I loved that cake mix though.
Years later, I was living in NYC, and my parents invited me to meet them in Boston for a long weekend. My dad had a conference, and my mom said we could go shopping. Yes please!
We went to Flour Bakery in the Seaport the first day. I knew JoAnne Chang’s career and her recipes and really wanted to taste her products myself. Full of walnuts and raisins, I ordered a slice of carrot cake because it was the dessert that was calling to me. As I ate the whole thing, my parents needed to scrap their chins off the floor. From then on, I never had a problem with nuts in my desserts and actually, prefer them.
So onto these pecan pie cups! When I committed to a gluten free, dairy free lifestyle, I didn’t even want to try pie dough and with these, you don’t have to. Simply whip up the filling, pour into ramekins and have them bake while you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner. Let them cool while the dishes are being done and enjoy!
1 cup maple syrup
½ cup maple or coconut sugar
1 3-4” cinnamon stick
1- 1” knob of ginger
2 cups pecan halves*
3 large eggs
¼ cup (24 grams) cacao
1/8 cup (1 ounce) cacao or coconut butter, melted
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon sea salt
pinch of black pepper
Grease 8- 2oz ramekins with coconut oil. Set them onto a baking sheet and set aside.
If you have a reusable tea bag, place the cinnamon stick, ginger and cloves in there. In a small pot, add the maple syrup, sugar and spice bag cinnamon, and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until it reduces by 1/4, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the spices steep for 45 minutes.
I typically sprout my pecans because it brings out the inherit maple flavor (see instructions below), but if you don’t (I understand!), toast the nuts in a dry pan over medium low heat for about 5-10 minutes, or until the nuts smell warm, nutty and pronounced.
When the nuts and syrup is ready, preheat your oven to 325F. Remove the spices and pour the cooled syrup into a bowl. Add the eggs, cacao butter, bourbon, salt + pepper, and whisk until smooth. Fold in your pecans. Pour the mixture between your ramekins, and bake for 20- 25 minutes until the edges are set + the middle jiggles ever so slightly.
Let them cool for 10 minutes before topping them with coconut whipped cream!
to sprout pecans…
Place the nuts into a bowl and add with enough water to cover them by 1-2” as the nuts will float and expand. Let them sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Drain and rinse the pecans before spreading them out on a baking sheet in one layer. Bake for 4 hours until they’re fully dry and crispy. I typically make a large batch and store them in an airtight container until I want to use them in a dessert or as a topping.