This past weekend when I was trying to decide on what dessert to make (I was thinking apple tart), my husband was begging me to make a batch of chocolate clusters he remembered having as a child. They sounded pretty easy to make, and once I realized what they were, I was game. He grabbed the recipe from his mother who has had it for thirty years, and we were all set. I discovered pretty quickly that this is a super easy recipe, and the results are very satisfying – you get your sweet, salty and chocolate all wrapped into one little candy.
One aspect of this recipe is marshmallows. As most of you may know, standard marshmallows are neither vegan nor vegetarian. After having a less than ideal time with a bag of Dandies vegan marshmallows this past summer – the marshmallows were all clumped together – Chicago Soydairy sent me a couple of bags where the marshmallows were intact and looked exactly as a bag of marshmallows should. My only real remaining complaint about these marshmallows is that on their own they are over-the-top sweet. I wasn’t sure how they’d be in these chocolate clusters, so I was hesitant to throw them in, but I’m so glad I did. I soon discovered that Dandies are perfect when balanced with other ingredients. They added a chewiness that I came to love as I was sinking my teeth into these clusters, and the sweetness was no longer overwhelming with the less sweet flavors of chocolate, peanut butter and Rice Krispies. I’m a fan for sure, and I can’t wait to try them in other recipes.
Chocolate Peanut Clusters
- 1 cup vegan marshmallows, cut into smaller pieces
- Corn starch
- 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
- 1 cup Rice Krispies, or another favorite dry cereal
- 1 12-ounce package vegan chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter, smooth
Gather together your ingredients.
Because Dandies marshmallows are not small enough, I chose to cut each marshmallow into about four pieces.
The only issue with this is that the marshmallows become very sticky and can clump together. To avoid this, I put a little bit of corn starch in my hands (you only need a tiny bit!), and rubbed each marshmallow piece in between my hands until they were no longer sticky. This goes fast and is easy, plus you’ll know exactly when you’ll need more corn starch. A little goes a long way, so there’s no need to go overboard with it. Once you have all your marshmallows, put them into a large bowl.
Add the peanuts and Rice Krispies to the marshmallows and stir together until they are well mixed.
Get out two saucepans, one larger than the other one. You will add water to the larger saucepan (do not allow any water to get into the smaller saucepan at any point), and heat it over medium to medium-high heat. Put the smaller saucepan into the larger one so that it is resting in the water. Add the chocolate to the smaller saucepan, and stir constantly until the chocolate has fully melted.
The key here is to allow your chocolate to melt slowly so that it does not burn, and this homemade version of a double boiler works perfectly for me every time.
Once the chocolate has melted, add the peanut butter and stir well to combine.
Take the chocolate mixture off the heat, and pour into the bowl that contains your marshmallows, peanuts and Rice Krispies. Stir the ingredients together until well mixed.
Place a sheet of wax paper (or greased parchment paper) on a cookie sheet. Place individual spoonfuls of the chocolate peanut clusters mixture onto the wax paper.
Place into the refrigerator and chill for about an hour or until firm.
Once they are set, I recommend that you store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I found that these clusters would easily start going a little soft if the temperature in the house was too warm.
I’m already trying to figure out what variations of these clusters I want to make next. I’m thinking rum soaked raisins and almonds covered in chocolate – that just sounds completely divine to me. Maybe shredded coconut, almonds and chocolate. Or instead of Rice Krispies, use coarsely crushed pretzels. So many options!
Do you have any good recipes for chocolate clusters?