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pecan date dreams

Pecan Date Dreams

dairy free gluten free paleo recipes sweets

These Pecan Date Dreams are like a homemade Snickers bar and an Almond Joy fell in love and had a baby. They’re like a dark chocolate Pecan Turtle with a surprise creamy center. They’re like a bonbon from a box of chocolates, minus the too-sweet and artificially flavored cream filling. 

But really, they don’t need to be compared to a mere substitute for store-bought candies. These Pecan Date Dreams can stand on their own just fine. And unlike some other “healthy candy bar” recipes out there, these take 20 minutes to throw together, instead of all day. Easy peasy. 

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What is Coconut Manna?

One of the key ingredients in the filling is coconut manna, sometimes called coconut butter. Coconut manna is a different product than coconut oil, coconut cream, or coconut milk — so substituting any of those, unfortunately, won’t work here. 

If you don’t already have some in your pantry, coconut manna is a welcome and versatile addition that won’t go to waste. It makes a regular appearance in paleo treat recipes, and can also be stirred into sauces, curries, soups, and smoothies. In fact, you could skip the extra steps in this recipe and just slather a bit of melted coconut manna onto a date and call it delicious. There are so many ways to use it, and all of them good. 

Coconut manna is made from the fresh meat of the coconut, which is lightly dried and then ground into a smooth paste. It’s more crumbly than nut butter (unless it’s warmed), but the general idea is the same. 

The most seductive thing about coconut butter/manna is that it has a luscious melt-in-your-mouth quality that is unlike any other food.


How to Make Pecan Date Dreams

In these Pecan Date Dreams, coconut manna is combined with a touch of maple syrup and a few pecans to make a nougat-like center. Then that “nougat” is stuffed into sticky Medjool dates. Next, a pecan half is placed on top of each date for extra crunch. Finally, a drizzle of melted chocolate tops things off. Use a little, use a lot, or skip the chocolate altogether. Do whatever you fancy — you can’t go wrong. 

If you’ve been following me for a while you won’t be surprised that I sprinkled the tops with sea salt. Guess I’m predictable like that, but truly, follow your bliss. And know that these treats are free of gluten, dairy, soy, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors, or any of the other questionable ingredients we eat when we fall prey to the mass-produced candy in the grocery store checkout line. 

While these Pecan Date Dreams definitely fall into the “treat” category, if you’re going to indulge, might as well make it work for you, rather than against. Give these a try, and you’ll be able to look that candy bar in the eye next time you find it calling to you, and say, “Not today industrial candy bar! I have a better idea.”


Thyroid-healthy Recipe Highlights:

  • Medjool dates are an excellent natural sweetener and caramel substitute. Although they are high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation, they provide 2 grams of dietary fiber per fruit.
  • High-quality dark chocolate is loaded with health benefits including antioxidants, minerals, polyphenols, and flavonoids. It has been shown to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) while also preventing it from damaging tissues.
  • 1 ounce of dark chocolate contains 3 grams of dietary fiber.
  • Coconut products such as coconut oil and coconut butter contain healthy fats, which can aid in hormone balance. Consumption of healthy fats is commonly recommended for those with thyroid issues for this reason.
  • Although it’s best to avoid large amounts of sugar on a hypothyroid-friendly diet, maple syrup is one of the most nutritious alternatives when sweetener is called for. It contains up to 24 different phenolic compounds (antioxidants), which can reduce the free radical damage that leads to inflammation and chronic disease.


Pecan Date Dreams

Pecan Date Dreams

Yield: 16
Author: Ginny Mahar
Prep time: 20 MinTotal time: 20 Min
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Paleo



  1. With a small paring knife split the dates along one side, lengthwise, and carefully remove the pit, leaving the rest of the date intact.
  2. In a small food processor combine coconut manna, 16 pecan halves, a pinch of fine sea salt, and maple syrup. Pulse until the mixture forms a coarse paste.
  3. Stuff mixture into dates, distributing evenly. They should be pretty full so that the dates are open on top, like a baked potato. Top each with 1 of the remaining pecan halves, lightly pressing them into the filling.
  4. Place dates on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. In a small microwave-safe bowl combine chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave on high at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is fully melted. Drizzle atop dates, according to your preference.
  6. If desired, sprinkle tops with flaky sea salt. Refrigerate until chocolate is set and enjoy!


May be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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