Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)


Here’s me, trying to create a healthy dessert recipe:

Paleo-leaning sister gives me the idea for 2-ingredient vegan frosting back in the fall. (Solidified coconut milk + dairy-free chocolate.) Sit on the idea for months. Finally break down and throw a can of coconut milk in my fridge. Forget about it for 2 weeks. Finally remember, then melt it together with some chocolate. Forget that the chocolate is supposed to be vegan. Put it in the fridge to cool. EAT HALF THE BATCH WITH MY FINGER. Eat the other half with a spoon.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)

So much for healthy.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)

Batch #2: Having completely discarded the idea of turning this rich chocolate mousse into frosting, I made it again with the idea to put it into mini tart crusts. For some reason I was obsessed with the idea of making these low-calorie, but kept forgetting to, you know, actually make them low-calorie. 2 1/2 cups of pecans and a smattering of butter and sugar later, and well, here we are. At least they’re gluten free. Hopefully I’m pleasing somebody.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)

Okay, I’m just messing with you. These Chocolate Pecan Bites will please everybody. Everyone I tried these out on took one bite and said, “What IS this??” (I mean, in a good way, not in a what-is-this-I-want-to-die kind of way.) 

So here’s the deal, as I have mostly described: you take full-fat coconut milk, let it firm up in the fridge, then melt it on the stove with a bag of dark chocolate (vegan or not). Put it in the fridge, and after a couple hours it turns into…magic. Magic I tell you!

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)

It is not quite as heavy as straight up chocolate mousse. There is a light coconut-y flavor that is not dominant, but still makes people raise their eyebrows and think (or exclaim) “what is this?” If you don’t like coconut flavor, I would still try it out. It mostly tastes like chocolate. Delicious, creamy, smooth chocolate.

Like I said, the crust is gluten free, it’s made of pecans. I really like the chocolate-nut combo, especially since they are ground. Don’t skip the raspberry on top, the fruit really helps to balance the flavors. You could also try strawberries.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)You will have some leftover chocolate mixture. Eat it with a spoon if you know what’s good for you. Or better yet, your finger.

This is certainly festive enough for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, or you could start celebrating with us today for Galentine’s Day! It’s a day to celebrate with all your gals of course. (although if this were a real-life event, I would totally lobby to invite Ron Swanson. He would never stoop so low, but it would be fun to try.) I got together with a bunch of my bloggy-gals for an epic virtual #Galentine’sDayParty. Below you can find links to all the awesome recipes that each one of them has contributed. Thanks to Courtney of Neighbor Food for putting this together!

Galentine’s Day Drinks

Galentine’s Day Brunch

Galentine’s Day Desserts

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?

Gluten-free Chocolate Fudge Pecan Bites

Yield: Makes 22 mini bites


  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream*
  • 10-ounce bag good-quality dark chocolate, anywhere from 50-60% cocoa, or vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 22 raspberries, to garnish


  1. Refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk, or a can of coconut cream, until solid, several hours or overnight.
  2. In a food processor, add pecan halves. Blend until the nuts are thoroughly ground. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter, and blend again until combined. It will roll into a cute little ball.
  3. Press the mixture into a mini-muffin pan. I used about 1 tablespoon per muffin cup. Press it in firmly with your fingers, all the way up the sides.
  4. Loosely cover the crusts, then refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  5. When the crusts are chilled, bake them in the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. You want them brown on the top, but not dark.
  6. Remove and let cool. If the crusts have puffed up while baking, use the back of a spoon to gently press them back into place while they are still warm. Set aside to cool.
  7. Take out your refrigerated can of coconut milk/cream. Turn the can upside-down and open it. Pour off any water than has pooled (You can save it for another recipe. It's good in smoothies). Scoop the hardened coconut cream into a small saucepan.*
  8. Add a 10-ounce bag of dark chocolate to the saucepan and turn the heat to low. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and cream have melted together. Use a whisk to make sure all the chocolate solids are melted.
  9. Remove from heat, and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture into each crust. You will have leftover chocolate mixture; pour it into a container and refrigerate so that it hardens up; then eat it with a spoon. You're welcome.
  10. Refrigerate the little tarts until they are completely solidified, about 2 hours. You can also freeze them.
  11. Remove the bites from the mini-muffin pan: just after you take them out of the fridge, when they are very cold, slide a plastic knife around the edge and pop them out. They will get soft if you leave them at room temperature, so keep them in the fridge until right before you serve.
  12. Place 1 raspberry on top and serve. (Strawberries would be good too)


*The coconut milk people are messing with us. The first time I tried this, I used coconut milk and it hardened up overnight fabulously. The next time I tried it, my refrigerated can had not solidified at all. It was still liquid. I had to save it for another recipe; this process won't work unless it is hardened. To be safe, buy a can of coconut cream. It will definitely work. You can find it in Asian markets. They also sell it at Trader Joe's. I've also read that if the ingredient list (for coconut milk) doesn't have any emulsifiers, you are good to go.

Source: The Food Charlatan, inspired by Oh She Glows

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Open up a can of coconut milk that’s been refrigerated. Make sure you flip it up side down first.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Pour off the water than has pooled at the top.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Coconut cream. Yum.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Then add some dark chocolate.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Here’s the kind I used: 53% cacao.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Melt it all together and you get the most amazing chocolate sauce ever. Stick it in the fridge for a few hours and you will have this:

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)

Mercy. Now make the crust.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Blend your nuts and the other crust ingredients. It should come together in a ball like this.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)


Press the mixture into a mini muffin tin.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Then pour in 1 tablespoon of the chocolate.

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!)Add some fresh fruit and you’re golden!





    • says

      I wasn’t too far off that Heather. I took a picture of the half-eaten bowl and sent it to my sister, who had sent me the recipe. I said, I put my finger in it once, and this is where we’re at. So bad! (PS still can’t get over your cheesecake parfait bar. Love!)

    • says

      Right Nicole? Today my in-laws and I ate ridiculous amazing burgers for lunch (Smashburger? Have you been there???), realized that we were totally in the hole when it came to allotted calories for the day, and instead of eating salad for dinner…are ordering pizza tonight. We’re just totally giving up.

  1. says

    I am so excited because I just noticed the other day that Trader Joe’s had coconut cream! I bought some and used it to make Thai curry. So much “creamier” than coconut milk. Now you’ve opened my life up to a whole new possibility for it. These little tarts are the perfect 2 bite dessert. But I’ll probably eat 6 so it will be more like 12 bites. haha! Happy Galentine’s Day friend : )
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely recently posted…Sourdough French ToastMy Profile

    • says

      Yes, that’s where I got mine! Sometimes I think I should just set up camp at Trader Joe’s. And dang, I bet that was some super creamy Thai curry. I haven’t tried the cream in anything savory yet. (Oh, and just to make you feel better, I had at least 12 of these “bites”. Ha.)
      Happy Gal Day to you too Natalie!

  2. says

    Girl! These pecan bites look stunning! And I know exactly how you feel when it comes to making something “healthy” or “low calorie”. I start with such great aspirations and then find myself on the floor in the kitchen with a mixing bowl half full of chocolate. I don’t know how good healthy and low calorie is when you eat the entire recipe yourself!! Oh well. That’s why we have a stair master. ;-) Happy Galentine’s Day to you!
    Marly recently posted…Strawberry Chocolate Dessert Bars and a #‎GalentinesDayParty‬My Profile

    • says

      That’s what I need, a stair master!! The steps I take in between the sink and the stove are just not cutting the calories like they used to :) So glad I’m not the only one who has no control when it comes to supposed low-calorie desserts.

  3. says

    Karen, these photos are SO GORGEOUS!! The light is perfect. I’m also terrible at “lightened up” desserts. I’d rather eat a healthy dinner then have my full fat dessert, thankyouverymuch. I’ve heard of coconut milk whipped cream, but never chocolate mousse. I seriously can’t wait to try these. So glad they’re gluten free too so I can share them with my mom!
    Courtney @ Neighborfood recently posted…Piña Colada Cupcakes #GalentinesDayPartyMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you Courtney! I am so with you, 2 bites of a full fat dessert is better than a tofu cheesecake or whatever. haha! Definitely share these with your mom, I bet she will like them if she is gf…or even if she’s not :)

  4. Misty says

    I’ll have to try these out on my gf friends. :) They look so pretty. I bet Paul would love them, though I’ll have to make them Man size and definitely not tell him they’re gf! Haha

    • says

      Yeah, don’t tell him they’re GF, he will never eat them :) Also just a heads up, I tried these in regular muffin tins at first, not mini. I prefer mini. I like the ratio of chocolate to crust better. But to each his own. Let me know what you do and what changes you make!

  5. says

    Karen, I’m so glad that participating in this food party meant I got to meet you and discover your blog. Girl, you’re hilarious! I love everything about this post. And the photos. My Gawd, your pecan bites look tremendous and the photography is stunning. Thanks for the step by step photos too (they’re always appreciated). I can’t believe that coconut milk + chocolate = heavenly, divine, creamy mousse. Mind is blown. Happy Galentine’s Day to you!
    Nancy @ gottagetbaked recently posted…Banana Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Chocolate Frosting for a #GalentinesDayPartyMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment Nancy! Discoveries like this are why I love cooking. There is always something new, even when I think everything has been done over and over. I actually can’t wait to get to heaven to see what secrets we’ve been missing. There has to be all kinds of untapped potential in the food we eat, right?? Sorry, I’m talking about death, and that’s weird, so Ima go now.

  6. says

    Ha! That is too funny! I’ve done the same thing forgetting the chocolate is supposed to be vegan when trying to make a vegan dessert. I love how you made the pecan crusts so tiny. I always try to do try things but then I feel as though my big man hands crush things.
    Totally kidding on the man hands! But you get my point, right?

    • says

      YES Stephanie that’s exactly what it means!! All things mini mean eat the whole batch :) I’ve had a tab open with your pistachio ice cream open all day intending to comment. It’s just sitting there, tempting me. All. Day. I think I’m going to have pistachio dreams tonight.

  7. says

    Oh, I remember that coconut milk frosting thing going viral on Pinterest a few years ago! I always sort of dismissed it as something that wouldn’t turn out nearly as good as it looks (nailed it!), but you’ve really convinced me. This looks absolutely AMAZING. And for the record, I would just eat it all with a spoon. Well, maybe invite a gal pal over and give her a spoon, too. To save me from myself.

    • says

      I’ll come over and help you anytime Lori :) I never even made it to the frosting step. Next time I’ll have to whip it up and see how it is on cupcakes. Maybe I’ll make 2 batches: one to whip and one to eat…otherwise the whipping may never happen.

    • says

      Right Julie? I mean you could do pretty much anything with it. Use is as a chocolate sauce, fill any number of things, whip it into frosting. It’s kind of like magic :) about to go read your cooking with kids post! That sounds fun!

  8. says

    These tarts are pretty magical. I’m not even a coconut fan and I’m ready to dive into 1, 2 or 5 of them. Pretty sure I need to get on the paleo nut tart crust bandwagon here. I know a couple of people who would be really happy if I did!

  9. says

    Ha! See, THIS is exactly why I never try to make healthy desserts. I’d probably start trying for low-calorie and end up dousing it with 2 quarts of heavy cream. These chocolate-pecan bites sound fantastic! It would be hard to resist eating all the chocolate mousse before putting it in the cups, though!

    Question: do you have a coconut milk brand you recommend? I’ve tried this before and the milk never solidified. Apparently some brands have emulsifiers that prevent the cream and water from separating…super annoying!
    Elizabeth @ recently posted…Chocolate Rose CupcakesMy Profile

    • says

      YES! I’m so glad I’m not the only one Elizabeth! And I’m glad I’m not the only one who regularly has 2 quarts of cream on hand for no particular reason.

      Honestly, I recommend using coconut cream. I used the Chaokoh brand of coconut milk (the one where you can’t read anything else on the label because it’s in some foreign language that I can’t even identify…). It worked fabulously the first time. I used the exact same brand the next time and it didn’t solidify. Weird. Like I said in the notes, I think the coconut milk companies are changing their formulas, so maybe the first time I used an older can from before they changed it? (I always have like 17 cans of coconut milk on hand, so this is entirely possible.) I read on Oh She Glows that the Thai brand used to solidify but no longer does. She used the Native Forest brand and that worked for the frosting she made (see the link in the source after the recipe). I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful! Let me know if you try it out and what brand you use if it works (or doesn’t work).

  10. says

    Your photos are insanely beautiful! So bright and clear and gorgeous. What kind of camera do you use?? I just checked out your About page and your progress since that first taco soup picture is AMAZING!!! So inspiring :)
    Erika recently posted…DIY Pearl SugarMy Profile


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