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There are many different types of pecan desserts, some more complex than others. Pecan clusters and candied pecans 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 a fruit, are also popular as a topping for cheesecake or toffee.
Pecan clusters are often described as a doughless, non-bake cookie. Whole pecans are mixed with a variety of warm, sticky ingredients. Chocolate, caramel, and marshmallow fluff are popular. Once the pecans are mixed into the warm ingredients, the mixture is dropped onto a sheet of wax paper and allowed to cool. Once hardened, this pecan cluster dessert can be stored in an airtight container, and eaten as a sweet snack after a meal.
Candied pecans are often served as a sweet, after-dinner snack during the fall and winter months; they also make an excellent party appetizer. For this pecan dessert, the nuts are coated in a mixture of sugar, butter, and sweet, warm spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Once thoroughly covered, the pecans are slowly baked until the coating caramelizes. Once cooled, this pecan dessert is ready to eat, and tends to keep for a week or two in an airtight container. These pecan desserts are also popular food gifts during the winter holidays.
Pecan pie is one of the most popular and well-known pecan desserts. Pecans are mixed with a sugary base of molasses, syrup, brown sugar, and spices, then baked in a pie shell. A variety of liquors are also popular additions. The pie can be served with whipped cream, ice cream, or a creamy liquor glaze.
Other common pecan desserts are pecan bars or squares. These typically resemble a mix between a cookie and the method used for making clusters or pecan pie. A simple sugar dough is spread in a baking dish and baked halfway through. Then, a mixture of pecans, sugar, and other binding ingredients are spread over the dough and baked until done. This pecan dessert can be topped with a chocolate or caramel drizzle, 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 the early spring or late fall; the mixture of the nutty, warm pecan topping and the cool, refreshing cheesecake is a good dessert for in-between seasons. Pecans are also often used in toffee, which is made from a mixture of butter and sugar. For this dish, the base toffee is often smeared with dark chocolate, and chopped pecans are pressed into the warm toffee before it sets.