Cook’s Notes: This is a mash-up of two recipes, made for a co-worker who is vegan (plant foods only) and gluten-free. The technique is based on a recipe from the Hershey’s Kitchens (link), but the cocoa-spice mix has Southwest-style flavor and is from recipezaar, scaled to 4 servings.
I wanted a spice mix that had more cocoa, less chili powder, and included cinnamon. The spice mix makes enough for two batches of nuts and it can also be used to dredge truffles or rum balls. Bonus: You can make hot cocoa with the leftover spice mix. Just stir it into a cup of hot milk, milk substitute, or coffee.
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups warm water
3 cups pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat oven to 350F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Stir together the 1/2 cup sugar and warm water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Place the pecans in a large bowl. Pour the sugar-water over them and let them soak for 10 minutes. Drain water and discard.
Combine the spice mix ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle spice mix over damp pecans; stir well and toss until all the cocoa mixture coats the pecans. Spread coated pecans on prepared pan.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until pecans start to glisten and appear dry. Stir every 5 minutes while baking. Cool completely. Store in cool, dry place.