We created this for the holiday season, but we had a hard time deciding what to call it. Part nougat, part fudge, maybe even a little bark, we accidentally made a vegan, gluten-free candy that tastes as good as its over-the-top Christmas candy counterparts. Put it alongside Aunt Duveen’s divinity and nobody will even know it’s from a different food generation. Not only that, but it’s easy to make.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Take a minute to prepare your pan by cutting a piece of parchment paper in half and lining the bottom of an 8×8-inch square pan with one half. It will line the bottom and two opposite sides. Now lightly grease the piece of parchment paper and lay the other half of the paper down, lining the bottom again and the two unlined sides. Doing the parchment paper this way makes a little cradle that makes the final candy easy to remove and cut.
Put the pecans in a shallow dish and roast for about 10 minutes until toasted and aromatic.
In a large saucepan, combine the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and salt. Heat on low until the mixture just melts and then immediately remove it from the heat. Using a whisk, mix vigorously until everything emulsifies. Put some power into it and keep it moving for about 5 minutes. You’ll know the mixture is emulsified when the oil is no longer visible as a slick layer on top, and the mixture will look creamy and thick. At about this point, the pecans should be finished toasting. Add them, along with the shredded coconut. Stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Transfer immediately to the refrigerator to set and harden and become the sublime kind of candy that harkens back to the old south when they named things like divinity and ambrosia. When the candy is completely set—three hours should do it, but I always leave it overnight—remove the candy from the pan by lifting the parchment paper cradle out and slicing it into squares on a cutting board. These will keep for weeks in the fridge, and even longer in the freezer. You can serve them at room temperature, but after about 4 hours, they start to get quite soft. Savor each bite with delight and gratitude.