Friday, November 4, 2011

Black and Tan Clusters

I just LOVE the combination of chocolate and dried cherries and truly believe they are the perfect match. Just a little warning, if you are on a diet or have a chocolate addiction...don't make too many of these! It is SO hard to just eat one!!! :-)

I have made these chocolate morsels so many times, I've lost count and they have become a family staple. They are the perfect dessert to bring to a potluck, especially when you are short on time and they go really well with any holiday. 

Even though I know I am eating something sweet, I like to know that it is "semi" healthy as well. The dark chocolate variety (60% cacao or more) have antioxidants in them and studies like this one show that they can lower blood pressure. Almonds are packed with minerals, protein and healthy fats AND are one of the best known sources of Vitamin E. So go ahead and have 1...maybe 2!

**This is an Ellie Krieger recipe . Check out the original recipe here.
Recipe for the Clusters
Serves: 24 Prep: 5-30 minutes  Cooking Time: 0 minutes
2 cups whole almonds, chopped and toasted (Look here for how to.  For those of you local, check out Winco Foods bulk section. They have them already chopped and roasted).
1 cup dried cherries
6 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cocoa), broken into pieces
6 oz white chocolate, broken into pieces
parchment or wax paper

1. Break up the chocolate into a small microwave-safe bowl (dark in one, white in another). Microwave on High for 15 second intervals until chocolate has melted. Make sure you stir after each interval.
Note: I use Ghirardelli's baking chocolate. They come in 4oz sizes, so you need to buy 2 bars of each type of chocolate. 
2.Add 1 cup of almonds to each bowl. 
3. Add 1/2 cup cherries into each. 
4. Mix well.

3. Get out two baking sheets and line them with parchment or wax paper. Spoon mixture (I use two small metal spoons, one to scoop the mixture and one to scrape on to the baking sheet) onto the parchment paper to make small cluster shapes (see pictures of clusters at the beginning of this post). You can really make any sized cluster you want...I usually stick to the smaller size because they are easier to eat that way. Space each cluster about 1 inch apart.

4. Stick the baking sheets in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes until the clusters have set. I store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator, because these suckers can melt easily. Enjoy!


Who likes to change it up?

~Try a different nut like chopped roasted peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, walnuts, pecans...the list is endless!
~Replace cherries with dried cranberries, blueberries, apricots...again the list can go on and on.
~Of course if you don't like dark or white chocolate, you are free to try these with milk chocolate.

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