1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease with olive oil. Scatter pecans on pan and bake until fragrantand toasted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate to cool. Keep greased parchment paper on the baking pan, and keep oven on. Remove 3/4 cup of the pecans, coarsely chop, and set aside.
2. Prepare the pecan crunch. In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup of the sugar with the room temperature water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and watch carefully. After about 15 to 18 minutes, the sugar will start to caramelize. When it turns a deep amber color, immediately add the reserved chopped pecans. Remove from heat and tilt pan so that all the pecans are coated; don't stir, as that may crystallize and cloud the sugar. Pour mixture onto the parchment lined baking pan. Tilt the pan so the mixture spreads in a thin layer. If needed, use a metal spoon dipped in hot water to distribute the nuts evenly. Let cool completely, about 1 hour, then break into bite-size pieces. May be prepared a day inadvance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
3. While pecan crunch cools, prepare the cake. Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan witha little olive oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
4. In a medium bowl, combine 7 Tbsp. of the cocoa and the boiling water and whiskuntil smooth. Stir in vanilla and set aside to cool slightly.
5. Transfer remaining 1 1/2 cups pecans to a food processor. Add remaining 1 Tbsp.cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Pulse until finely ground.
6. In a large bowl, combine remaining 1 cup sugar, oil, and eggs. Using anelectric mixer on medium-high speed, beat until light and thickened, about 3minutes.
7. Reduce speed to low and gradually pour in the cocoa mixture, beating untilincorporated.
8. Scrape down the sides and gently stir in the ground pecan mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until surface is set but still slightly soft in the center, about 40 to 45 minutes.
9. Let cake cool completely on a wire rack. To serve, remove sides, but leave cake on parchment paper and bottom of the pan. Garnish cake with pecan crunch.
Source: Hannaford fresh Magazine, March - April 2014