Dark Chocolate Pecan Clusters is an easy homemade chocolate candy recipe made in the Crockpot or microwave. Pretzels are added for extra crunch. A package of caramel bits turn this into a shortcut version of pecan turtle clusters.
Thank you to my friends at Whaley Pecan Company for sponsoring this post.
How to make homemade chocolate candy couldn't be easier! Just stir the ingredients together and turn on your slow cooker. Now, that's hitting the easy button!
If you're in a bit of a hurry, I give you directions below to melt the chocolate in the microwave.
If you're not a dark chocolate lover, semi-sweet or milk chocolate can be easily used. I actually use a combination of dark chocolate and semi-sweet in this recipe.
- Chocolate chips is a shortcut because you don't have to chop up chocolate bars. If you have chocolate bars in your pantry or find them on sale, just coarsely chop them.
- The crockpot is more of a time management tool here. Toss everything together if you plan to spoon out the candy later in the day. You can also microwave the chocolate. Scroll down for those times.
What you will need to make ....
Scroll down to printable recipe for exact ingredient quantities.
I like to use half dark chocolate and half semi-sweet chocolate to add a touch of sweetness and lighten the color a bit.
- Chocolate- This recipe will work with any combination of dark, semi-sweet, milk chocolate or even white chocolate. Candy melting wafers can also be used. Almond bark is an economical version of candy coating.
- Pecans- Pecan halves are the star of this easy homemade chocolate candy. Y'all know I'm a huge fan of Whaley Pecan Company pecans. So, of course, I recommend their plump, meaty Mammoth halves for this recipe.
- Caramel bits - I love this shortcut! No need to unwrap individual caramels. No messy melting and swirling caramel onto the pecans like with pecan turtles. Just stir in these handy caramel bits. I've found them in the baking aisle of the grocery but also in another brand in the cake and candy making aisle at Walmart and Hobby Lobby where they were about $3.50 each.
- Pretzels- These are optional. I had pretzel sticks on hand so that's what I used this time but tiny pretzel twists also work.
I like to lightly roast my pecans first for that added crunch and it brings out the rich flavor of the pecans. Here's how to roast pecans in the air fryer with an oven roasting option.
How to make dark chocolate clusters
This crockpot candy with pecans is a great make ahead candy. Let your slow cooker do the work of melting the chocolate while you are busy doing other things.
Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe with detailed instructions.
- To the bowl of the slow cooker, add chocolate chips, pecans and caramel bits. (Hold off on the pretzels, for now.)
- Put the lid on and set the heat to LOW. See printable recipe below for times.
Pro tip: I don't recommend using the HIGH setting for melting chocolate. If you are in a hurry (and I often am), the microwave method is further down in this post.
I like to stir in the pretzels (if I'm using them) at the end, so they stay crispy.
- Stir the mixture gently with a spoon. The caramel bits will not be melted but will soften.
- Add pretzels and gently stir until everything is coated in chocolate.
Pro Tip: If melting chocolate chips in the microwave, choose a large bowl and just stir in the pecans, pretzels and caramel bits after melting.
- Drop the turtle clusters onto parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet by tablespoonfuls.
- Let them stand at room temperature for 1 hour or until the chocolate is set. Or, refrigerate them for about 20 minutes.
You can also place the parchment on the counter but the baking sheets make it easy to move them around.
Substitutions & Variations
Trade "this" for "that" in this chocolate pecan clusters recipe.
- Chocolate - Any flavor chocolate chips or even peanut butter and butterscotch chips can be substituted for dark chocolate. Candy melts can also be used.
- Pecans- Coarsely chopped pecans or large pecan pieces
- Caramel- If you can't find caramel bits, you can cut up individual soft caramel pieces.
Any combination of chocolate chips including white chocolate will work in this pecan cluster candy recipe.
Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 1 minute. Stir well. Microwave at 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring after each time until chocolate is melted.
For detailed instructions on how to temper chocolate five ways, I love how The Kitchn breaks it down in this article.
How to serve chocolate pecan clusters
These pecan turtle clusters are perfect for gift giving on Valentines Day, Christmas, or an Anniversary.
- Paper liners- Candy liners or even small cupcake liners not only separate the individual pieces of chocolate candy, they also make a pretty presentation.
- Candy or cookie tins- Depending on the occasion, arrange the candy clusters in colorful gift tins and boxes. Red doubles for Valentines Day and Christmas.
- Sprinkles and flaky salt- To add a splash of color and flavor or to personalize the occasion, sprinkle on crushed peppermint, holiday sprinkles or tiny marshmallows before the chocolate firms up. Kosher or flaky salt is not only pretty but makes a delicious sweet and salty flavor.
- Candy dish or platter- For parties, stack the homemade chocolate candy in an antique candy dish or bowl or arrange on a platter.
Adding fresh strawberries to the platter or candy tin would make a beautiful presentation. Strawberries pair so well with dark chocolate!
Dark or milk chocolate pecan clusters make easy homemade Christmas food gifts in individual cellophane bags tied with a ribbon.
Where to buy pecans
I can vouch for how fresh the pecans are at Whaley Pecan Company. I've actually toured the plant and watched the process as well as visited one of the local pecan farmers that sell their pecans to Whaley's.
The mammoth size pecan halves are one of my favorite products from Whaley Pecan Company. They are also perfect for making my 3 Ingredient Cinnamon Sugar Pecans.
- To Store. Store covered or in an air tight container or in sealed bags in a cool place away from warm air vents or windows. It is not necessary to store in the refrigerator. If storing the candy in the refrigerator, be sure to let come to room temperature, uncovered, so moisture will not gather on the top and sides of the container and drip on the candy.
- To Freeze. You can freeze chocolate pecan clusters for several months, if tightly wrapped. Thaw in the refrigerator 24 hours, first, before uncovering and bringing to room temperature.
If you make this recipe I'd love to see it! Tag me on social media with #gritsandgouda or @gritsandgouda. Leave a comment below the printable recipe if you have questions or tell me how you liked the recipe. Don't forget to rate it 5 stars if you love it!
Dark Chocolate Pecan Clusters
- 6 to 7 quart Crockpot
- 2 (12-ounce) packages dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips or combination of both (or 4 cups chopped chocolate)
- 2 cups pecan halves (lightly roasted)
- 1 (11-ounce) package caramel bits
- 1 cup pretzels sticks or tiny pretzel twists
- To the crock of the slow cooker, add chocolate chips, pecans and caramel bits. (Hold off on the pretzels, for now.) Put the lid on the crock and set the heat to LOW for 1 to 2 hours. Check at 1 hour.
- Stir the mixture gently with a spoon. The caramel bits will not be melted but willsoften. Add the pretzels and gently stir until everything is coated in chocolate.
- Drop the turtle clusters onto parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet bytablespoonfuls. Let them stand at room temperature for 1 hour or until the chocolate is set. Or, refrigerate them for about 20 minutes.
Nutrition analysis on GritsAndGouda.com recipes are mostly calculated on an online nutrition calculator. I am not a dietitian and nutritional information is an estimate and can vary based on products used.