Nutty Chocolate Clusters
I love chocolate, and I think it loves me back. I mean, how else would you explain the shape of this chocolate cluster? In all seriousness, if you’re looking for a quick and easy solution to that chocolate craving, check this recipe out.
Actually, it was a chocolate craving (and a desire to avoid making cake) that led to these Nutty Chocolate Clusters.
I know this is, like, the 50th time I’m mentioning it, but for the past few months, I’ve been training for my first race. Part of this training included curbing most of the sweets and treats I’ve been used to enjoying. If you follow me on Instagram, perhaps you’ve noticed that my cake and macaron baking is way down. (Insert crying/whining emoji faces.)
While I miss baking tremendously, avoiding it has helped me to stay on track with my training goals. I have a really tough time baking a cake and not eating it. What can I say, I’m good at cake!
Anyway, after a while, I found myself craving some kind of sweet treat that wasn’t fruit and yogurt. Since I always have a variety of nuts on hand (for snacking) and chocolate chips (for baking), I figured I could make a quick little treat that would satisfy my craving but not totally derail my progress.
Enter these quick and easy Nutty Chocolate Clusters.
Most of the recipes I saw online for chocolate clusters were more candy-like and chocolate heavy. I wanted to create more of a “bark” where I could break up clusters after everything had cooled. I wanted the nuts to be lightly bound together by the chocolate rather than completely covered in a thick blanket of it.
Additionally, I wanted a good sweet and salty contrast. To achieve this, I used roasted, salted almonds instead of plain raw almonds. Using roasted, salted almonds is key to achieving that wonderfully crunchy, slightly salty cluster of deliciousness. Shredded, unsweetened coconut also gives the clusters a delicious Almond Joy-like flavor.
The only “complicated” step in this recipe is tempering the chocolate. “Tempering” is a process of melting the chocolate and bringing it back up to a temperature where it solidifies once cooled and doesn’t melt at room temperature. It sounds complicated and intimidating, but trust me, it’s not.
If you enjoy making chocolate covered strawberries or dipping other treats into chocolate, this is a kitchen skill you should definitely master.
Many pastry chefs advocate for using a very high quality chocolate and tempering said chocolate over a double boiler. Using a high quality chocolate produces a better shine and “snap” to the chocolate once hardened. However, since I’m not making these clusters to sell in a fancy chocolate shop in France, I simply temper my chocolate in the microwave using a good brand of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
It takes less than five minutes, sets up great, and works perfectly for this recipe. Here, I just used some store brand semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I have also had success using the Ghirardelli brand.
(If you want to learn more about the science and process for tempering chocolate, check out this article.)
These little treats are perfect to have on hand at home to snack on when that chocolate craving hits. You can also easily switch out the nuts I used for your favorites. I must, however, highly recommend adding the shredded coconut. It gives them a fantastic flavor. These are also a wonderful homemade gift! Just toss a handful or two into a cellophane bag, and tie it up with a pretty bow. They’re a great sweet item to set out at a party, too.
I hope you love making these as much as I do!
Nutty Chocolate Clusters
Quick and easy Nutty Chocolate Clusters are a perfect snack to make when that chocolate craving strikes. Crunchy almonds, pecans, and coconut get coated in semi-sweet chocolate, making this a delicious and satisfying sweet treat!
- 1, 7 oz. bag Roasted, Salted almonds (Whole)
- 3/4 Cup Chopped Pecans
- 3/4 Cup Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
- 3/4 + 1/2 (divided) Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Line a sheet pan with foil, parchment, or a silicone mat.
2) Add the almonds, pecans, and coconut into a large bowl. Toss to mix.
3) In a microwave safe bowl, add 3/4 Cups of the chocolate chips, and microwave for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, remove from the microwave, and give the chips a quick stir. Place the bowl back in the microwave for another 30 seconds, and stir again. They should be more melted. If needed, place the chips back in the microwave for an additional 30 seconds, and stir until you have a completely smooth mixture.
4) Add 1/4 Cup of the chocolate chips into the melted chocolate, and stir until the mixture is completely smooth again. (This might take a minute or two.) Once the mixture is smooth, add the final 1/4 Cup of chocolate chips into the mixture, and mix until all of the chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth again. (Note that the chips do not go back into the microwave at this point. Have patience, the chips will smooth out as you continue to stir.)
5) Once the chocolate is completely smooth and melted, pour it over the nut mixture, and stir quickly to coat the ingredients.
6) Pour the nutty chocolate mixture onto your lined baking sheet, and spread it flat as best you can with your spoon or spatula. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to let the chocolate harden. Once the mixture has hardened, break it up into pieces, and enjoy or store in an airtight container to snack on later.