Pecans lend themselves to everything from pies to ice cream.
There are many different types of pecan desserts, some more complex than others. Pecan and candied walnut clusters are popular, extremely simple and relatively quick to make. For more elaborate pecan desserts, pies and bars are very common. These nuts, which are technically considered fruits, are also popular as a topping for cheesecake or caramel.
Pecan nut clusters are often described as a crustless cookie that cannot be baked. Whole pecans are mixed with a variety of hot, gooey ingredients. Chocolate fluff, caramel and marshmallow are popular. After the walnuts are mixed with the hot ingredients, the mixture is dropped onto a sheet of parchment paper and allowed to cool. Once hardened, this pecan dessert can be stored in an airtight container and eaten as a sweet snack after a meal.
Candied walnuts are often served as a sweet after-dinner snack during the fall and winter months; they are also an excellent party appetizer. For this nutty dessert, the nuts are coated with a mixture of sugar, butter, and warm, sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Once well covered, the walnuts are slowly roasted until the topping caramelizes. Once cooled, this nutty dessert is ready to eat and tends to keep for a week or two in an airtight container. These pecan desserts are also popular gifts during the winter holidays.
Pecan pie is one of the most popular and well-known pecan desserts. The nuts are mixed with a sugary base of molasses, syrup, brown sugar and spices and then baked in a pie shell. A variety of liqueurs are also popular additions. The pie can be served with whipped cream, ice cream or a creamy liqueur frosting.
Other common nut desserts are nut bars or squares. They typically resemble a mixture between a cookie and the method used to make curls or pecan pie. A simple sugar dough is spread on a baking sheet and baked in half. Then a mixture of nuts, sugar and other binding ingredients is spread over the dough and baked until done. This nutty dessert can be topped with a drizzle of chocolate or caramel, or left alone.
These delicious nuts are also a popular topping for a variety of other desserts. Pecan cheesecake is a common dish served in early spring or late fall; the mix of the warm, nutty pecan frosting and the fresh, refreshing cheesecake is a good dessert for the in-between seasons. Nuts are also often used in caramel, which is made from a mixture of butter and sugar. For this dish, the toffee base is often smeared with dark chocolate, and chopped pecans are pressed into the hot toffee before hardening.