Spiced Cocoa Pecan Recipe

I’ve made these a couple of times with a few additions (the butter and granulated sugar) the second time. Either way worked del and is very easy to dol. This recipe is a bit of a combination of what I did. I got the idea from a recipe I found online, but adapted it. The idea to use powdered sugar and cocoa powder came from the original recipe. The corn starch in the powdered sugar helps the cocoa powder adhere to the wet pecans. I increased the amount of cocoa considerably and the second time added butter for a more chocolate flavor. I was happy with this, though if you want a low-fat recipe, I’ve included instructions to leave the butter out below.


1-2 quarts of pecans (adjust amounts below as necessary — this recipe has made between 1.5 and 2 quarts)

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar (we use organic raw sugar, not white sugar)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3 Tbs butter (optional)

olive oil


spices (cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom — to taste, 1/4-1/2 tsp each)

Mix sugar, cocoa, salt, and spices in a large bowl. (The first time I did this, I used 3/4 C powdered sugar and no granulated sugar; the second time I used 1/3 C powdered sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar because I was low on powdered sugar and wanted the more intense flavor of some granulated sugar. Based on these two experiences, I’m suggesting 1/2 powdered sugar if you’ve got it to help the coating stick and 1/4 granulated to get the taste).

Rinse pecans in a colander under cold water. Shake off excess water.

If you don’t want to use butter, then you can skip this next step: Melt 3 Tbsp butter with olive oil (to taste), then put melted butter and oil in a cookie sheet (with 1 inch sides) and mix the nuts in the butter and oil in the pan.

If you don’t do the butter and oil, then spray the pan with a little oil to keep it from sticking.

Mix the wet pecans in the bowl with sugar, cocoa, and spices until well coated. The pecans should absorb all the dry ingredients, but if not, you can add more wet pecans. Spread pecans in the baking pan.

Bake at 300° for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the pecans don’t stick to the pan or to each other. Remove when nearly done and when the coating is getting dry. They will continue to cook as they cool.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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