Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Healthy Chocolate Fix

Cherry-Almond-Chocolate Clusters
Photo credit: Chris Oliver

One can never say enough good things about chocolate...better yet, one can never eat enough chocolate.  But with most chocolate comes lots of fat and calories from other sugar-infused ingredients like ice cream, toffee, or caramel.  When I stumbled onto this recipe from Ellie Krieger, I knew I had found something that could give me a chocolate fix without being too unhealthy.  Of course, healthy and chocolate are two words that I usually don't put together.  Thankfully, these clusters withstood my taste-testing and I'm happy to report that these were definitely satisfying.

Another good discovery about these chocolates: they travel well.  I made a batch for my brother on his birthday and these chocolates made it all the way from Virginia to California without melting (via overnight shipping).  Now you can make your friends and family some yummy treats for the upcoming holidays if they can last long enough!

Cherry-Almond-Chocolate Clusters
(Courtesy of Ellie Krieger, "So Easy")


1 cup whole roasted almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries
6 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips so I didn't have to chop them.)


Chop both the almonds and cherries coarsely, put them into a bowl and toss together.  Set aside.

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper.  You'll need this later.

Now for the good part.  Melt half of the chocolate (3 oz.) in the top of a double broiler over water that is only slightly simmering and over the lowest possible heat.  Stir your chocolate frequently.  Don't let the water touch the top pan.  If you're like me and don't have a double broiler, you can put some water in the bottom of any pot and the set a glass dish over the simmering water to melt the chocolate.  It works well.

Once the chocolate is melted, remove the double broiler (or pot) from the heat and then stir in the rest of the chocolate (3 oz.) until it is all melted together.  Take off the top pan with the chocolate in it and set it aside.  Replace the simmering water in the bottom pan with warm tap water so that the chocolate remains at the correct temperature while you make the clusters.  Put the pan with the chocolate back on top.

Now, stir the almonds and cherries into the chocolate, making sure everything gets covered by that wonderful chocolate.  Grab your wax paper lined baking sheet.  You're going to make tablespoon-sized clusters and put them onto the baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.  Once you're done, put them into your refrigerator for about 20 minutes so they can cool and set.  (Here's where cleaning up your kitchen becomes rather fun.  After all, who wants any chocolate on your spoon to go to waste?)

After that, they are ready to enjoy!  You can store and serve them at room temperature.  I found that mine needed to set for a few hours more, but they can still be enjoyed after being refrigerated.

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