Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chocolate Nut Clusters

Featured Ingredient: Nuts

Indeed, it’s been a very long time since my last muffin tin inspired post. There are two main reasons for that: Firstly, after finishing up my cookbook Muffin Tin Chef which is due out in a couple weeks, I will admit that I was a little burnt out in the kitchen. Ok, very burnt out! More importantly, Tabi and I spent glorious six weeks this winter cycling around Sri Lanka. Highlights included the amazing bird life, the abundance of cheap exotic fruits to nosh on and the king coconuts on the side of the road to quench our thirst. As the picture below shows, when in Sri Lanka I will always prefer to be on my bike rather than in a bus.

Here’s a recipe that got cut from the cookbook due to space reasons, but remains one of my favorites. With basically just dark chocolate and nuts, it’s so simple but incredibly tasty. Despite its decadent side, I think these make a really healthy snack option since they combine antioxidant rich dark chocolate with nutrient dense nuts. The majority of fat in these nuts is the monounsaturated kind, which as been shown to confer heart health benefits by helping control cholesterol numbers.

Chocolate Nut Clusters

8 ounces dark chocolate, about 70 percent cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Couple dashes cayenne (optional)
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
Fleur de sel (optional)

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water, stirring often. Or microwave chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 20 to 30 second increments, stirring after each interval until everything is melted. Stir in cinnamon, ginger and cayenne.

Divide nuts among 12 medium sized or 24 mini muffin cups. Pour chocolate over nuts, making sure the entire surface is generously covered to allow the chocolate to seep down the crevices and bind the nuts together. If needed, melt additional chocolate. Place in the refrigerator to set, about 1 hour. If desired, sprinkle tops with Fleur de sel before placing in the fridge. 

Switch hits
  • Replace hazelnuts with macadamia nuts
  • Use almonds instead of pecans or cashews
  • Swap out half of the dark chocolate for a high-quality milk chocolate


I love hearing from fellow muffin tin fans, so let me know what is on your mind.