While a slice of pecan pie may be a mighty fine thing, indeed, sometimes you want a bite-size something that’s even better than pie, like coconut praline pecans. These little morsels are truly decadent, with buttery coconut and crunchy pecan pieces smothered in a rich syrup that hardens into a divine, melt-in-your-mouth (not in your hand!) dessert.
Pecans are a big favorite around here. We like them sweet and toasty in Arugula Salad with Candied Pecans, paired with maple in these delectable Maple and Pecan Cookies, piled into pastry in our Maple Mixed Nut and Seed Tarts, and in our cup as a delicious pecan praline black tea.
Unlike sweeter nuts like almonds and pistachios, pecans pair wonderfully with sinfully sweet ingredients like caramel and corn syrup without getting overwhelmed or resulting in a dessert that’s too sweet to eat.
Preparing the Coconut Praline Pecans Ingredients
These pralines can easily be made with sweetened coconut, but I prefer desiccated coconut, the dried, unsweetened variety that doesn’t add unnecessary sweetness to an already sweet dessert.
The coconut is even nicer if you can toast it a bit in a hot frying pan before folding it into the syrup mixture. Just be sure to keep a close eye on your coconut as it toasts since it burns easily. Pour it out of the pan as soon as the edges begin to brown since it will continue to toast in the pan even if you remove it from the heat. Burnt coconut does not good pralines make.
I also prefer to toast the pecans before adding them to the praline mixture. While it’s easy enough to buy roasted pecans, I like to do them myself simply because the fragrance that fills the kitchen as they heat in the pan is so exquisite. I also like to chop the pecans before toasting them so I don’t have to worry about it when the nuts are piping hot out of the pan. If you do chop them first, keep watch on the smaller pieces since they’ll toast a lot faster than the larger ones.
The sauce used to bind the praline ingredients is traditionally made with a combination of butter, sugar, corn syrup, and evaporated milk, resulting in sauce that is thick and not runny so you get an even distribution of coconut, pecans, and buttery-sweet sauce with every bite. This time, however, I’d run out of both corn syrup and evaporated milk, so I scoured my pantry for any possible substitutes. I found caramel sauce and glucose syrup, so I used them instead. They worked a treat! No runny sauce and a nice boost of flavor from the caramel sauce.
The sauce is super easy to make. You just dump all four ingredients in a heavy-bottom saucepan, boil the dickens out of it for three minutes, and it’s done.
Once you’ve toasted the coconut and pecans and prepared the syrup, you’re ready to go. Just thoroughly mix everything together, drop by teaspoon onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, and let the pralines cool. Store in an airtight container.
Since the coconut praline pecans are so rich and sweet, they pair wonderfully with our nutty teas. You can try a pot of Porch Sippin’ Pecan Tea with rich cinnamon chips and actual pecans; Toasted Nut Brulee Oolong caramel nut tea with nut essences, apple pieces, and cocoa nibs; or Caramel Almond black vanilla almond tea with apple pieces and cinnamon chips. All of them are delicious options for this truly decadent dessert.
Coconut Praline Pecans
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons caramel syrup
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup or glucose syrup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add coconut and chopped pecans. Toast the mixture, stirring often, until the pieces begin to brown nicely and you can smell the toasted ingredients. Immediately pour the coconut and pecans into a heat-proof dish and set aside.
Place sugar, syrups, and butter into medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to rolling boil and keep boiling for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pecans, and coconut. Mix well for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined.
Drop by teaspoon onto baking sheet lined with baking paper.
Chill thoroughly, then store in airtight container.