In all their spiced simplicity, these 4-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie Spice Pecan Bites are one of my new favorite munchies — not only because the recipe features my all-time favorite seasoning, pumpkin pie spice, but also because it’s super-easy and quick to throw together. Call these treats cookies, bites, clusters, whatever: just give them a go when you need something crunchy and sweet to satisfy your sweet tooth without putting in too much effort. Kids love them, too, as do the surprise guests who are dropping in for coffee in half an hour!
Tips for preparing the 4-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie Spice Pecan Bites
First of all, it’s a good idea to use quite finely chopped pecans. You can even crush the pecans in a food processor — it’s far easier than chopping the nuts with a knife. (Personally, I’m too lazy to dig out the food processor from my cupboard so I just chop the nuts with a knife – which is counterproductive, since with the food processor the job would be done in seconds, including the time spent digging out the machine…!) Anyway, if you do use a food processor, make sure you don’t process the pecans into flour: stop once you’ve achieved a coarse consistency.
Mixing the dough is easy: just combine all the ingredients and mix with a spoon until well combined. No beating needed!
I suggest making relatively small bites as they are handier to eat that way. This recipe yields approximately 16-20 small bites.
Unlike my previous recipe with pecans, this recipe doesn’t produce a great result when baked in a silicone muffin pan (tried and tested! Keep reading to find out what happened). Scooping small mounds of the dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet is the way to go.
These treats taste best fresh, right after cooling. If they are stored many days, they might lose their crunchiness.
Now let’s take a look at how to make these tasty, crunchy autumnal treats:
Take a medium mixing bowl and add the crushed pecans…
…Sukrin Gold (you can use other sweeteners, but after my experiments, I’ve concluded that this sweetener works best)…
…pumpkin pie spice…
…and the egg.
Mix with a spoon…
…until well combined.
Using a spoon, scoop the dough into small mounds and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. I prefer finger-shaped “mounds”: they are easier and more fun to eat than round mounds.
Bake for 20 minutes…
…or until crunchy. Don’t let them get too brown!
Let cool. The bites will get crunchier when cool.
Once cooled, remove from the baking sheet.
My pecan bite experiments
When developing last week’s savory pecan cluster recipe, I thought it might be possible to create a sweet version of same. This week I was excited to see how my idea would work in practice.
From the very beginning, I wanted to use warm, autumnal spices, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that pumpkin pie spice would be the best choice — not only because it’s my all-time favorite seasoning in general, but also because it’s fall and the pumpkin season is upon us. I’m certainly going to use plenty of pumpkin in the coming months, but I decided to kick off the season with pumpkin pie spice, sans the pumpkin pie. Besides, pecans and pumpkin pie spice is a match made in heaven!
I pondered over the ingredients. I needed pecans, sweetener, pumpkin pie spice, and eggs. But how much of each of them? In last week’s recipe, 2 cups (475 ml) crushed pecans and 2 eggs created the perfect consistency, so that would be a good start for my sweet version of the pecan clusters.
As for the sweetener, I decided to use erythritol crystals. I thought 1/3 cup (80 ml) would suffice: the result shouldn’t be overly sweet. Moreover, erythritol might make the clusters — or bites, as I wanted to call them — extra crunchy.
Pumpkin pie spice has a relatively strong flavor, so I thought 1 teaspoon would be just the right amount here.
I combined all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stirred them well with a spoon. Last week I baked the savory pecan clusters in a silicone mini muffin pan and the finished clusters were really cute, so I wanted to bake these sweet pecan bites in a mini muffin pan, too. So, I divided the mixture evenly between the cups of the silicone mini muffin pan. There was some leftover mixture, though.
Again, I baked the bites at quite a low temperature (300 °F = 150 °C) to prevent them from getting too brown. After 25 minutes, they looked great: baked through, but not too dark.
I let the bites cool well before trying to remove them from the silicone mini muffin pan. To my devastation, they had gotten a little bit stuck to the pan! I was astonished: I never would have expected anything to stick to a silicone pan…! Still, I managed to remove most of the bites without breaking them: only two of them broke. This is how they looked:
Okay, so the taste was great, but I wasn’t satisfied with the version baked in the muffin pan. They were too soft, and more importantly, they stuck to the pan. Luckily, I had that leftover mixture, which I then baked as small mounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. They turned out great! The consistency was just right—crunchy and tasty. However, the bites were a bit too sweet to my taste. I’d clearly used too much erythritol even in general the amount was little, just 1/3 cup (80 ml).
At that point I realized I could use my favorite brown sugar substitute, Sukrin Gold. It would make the flavor even warmer and more caramel-like. I took a video in which I used 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) crushed pecans, 2 tablespoons Sukrin Gold, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and 2 eggs. I’d meant to use only one egg, but I accidentally added two (whoops!)… so I added more crushed pecans to achieve the desired consistency.
I created small, bite-sized mounds from the mixture and scooped them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. This time it took 20 minutes to bake them. The result was great! The texture and the taste were just right: not too sweet, but just the right amount of warmth and fragrance from the pumpkin pie spice. I still might try making a batch with 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, just to see what happens. And maybe adding another tablespoon of Sukrin Gold wouldn’t hurt…
I conducted a couple more experiments to perfect the recipe and to shoot the photos and the video. The original recipe made so much dough that I couldn’t fit it all on the baking sheet. That’s why I halved the recipe: I use just 1 cup (240 ml) pecans and 1 egg in this final version. So, after a few more experiments, I got the bites just the way I wanted them: crunchy, spicy, and moderately sweet. As with the savory version I made last week, my husband raved about these treats (he enjoyed them with decaf coffee) and my son got some in his lunch box.
Here’s the recipe. Try it the next time you need something crunchy and scrumptious whipped up in a hurry!
|Nutrition information||In total||Per serving if 16 servings in total|
|Protein||18.7 g||1.2 g|
|Fat||92.5 g||5.8 g|
|Net carbs||5.8 g||0.4 g|
|kcal||940 kcal||59 kcal|
Tips for variation
Since I’m such a big fan of pumpkin pie spice, I didn’t experiment with other spices or spice blends this time. However, I’m pretty sure I’ll make this recipe over and over again, so I might replace the pumpkin pie spice with just Ceylon cinnamon or with apple pie spice, which very much reminds me of Finnish gingerbread spice. Speaking of gingerbread spice, I’m also going to make a holiday version using it. In fact, all warm spices like cardamom, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg would go beautifully with these toothsome bites.
This recipe makes bites that are quite crunchy. If you are after a softer, cookie-like consistency, simply add another egg.
Instead of pecans, you can use other nuts. I bet almonds would work well, too. Actually, in one of my experiments I had run out of pecans, so I replaced part of them with crushed walnuts, and the result was pretty awesome.
I still have one more cookie-like variation for this recipe bouncing around in my mind: if it turns out well, I’ll post it in plenty of time for the holiday season!