Originally I set out to make Sweet-and-Smoky Pecans from the Food & Wine 2009 Annual Cookbook. I bought plenty of pecans on a quick trip to Costco, and at a different store, I discovered this new (to me) spice blend: Cocoa Chile Blend from McCormick.
I was making recipes ahead of time for our Housewarming Extravaganza, and even though Food and Wine didn't say you could make this recipe ahead, I thought, why not? I made the Wine Bar Nut Mix ahead of time, this recipe wasn't much different.
I had the pecans in the bowl, ready to throw this thing together. I really thought I had ground chipotle pepper, but I couldn't find it for the life of me. (The original recipe for Sweet and Smoky Pecans calls for 1 teaspoon ground chipotle). I was about to give up and wait until another trip to the store, when I remembered my Cocoa Chile Blend. Sure enough, it is a blend of cocoa and Chipotle Peppers, among a few other ingredients. I decided to give it a try.
This recipe is SIMPLE and the results are delicious. Cousin Hailey was here, helping with the jalapeños and empanadas, and she couldn't resist sampling them almost every time she walked by! They really are that good.
The nuts kept well, I made two batches and stored them in a ziploc bag for 5 or 6 days. They just had to be separated a bit before serving.
They were a hit at the party, the flavors are subtle, a bit smoky with just a hint of heat, and people couldn't guess what the ingredients were!
Cocoa Chile Pecans
Toss 4 cups of pecans with 1/4 cup honey and 1 teaspoon each of Cocoa Chile Blend and Kosher salt in a large bowl. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes, until fragrant.
Note: If you happen to store your pecans in the freezer, as I do, be sure to let them warm up to room temperature BEFORE you add the honey. Trust me.