March 8th is National Peanut Cluster Day.
There is no documentation on the first appearance of the peanut cluster, but we know a few things:
EASY PEANUT CLUSTERS RECIPE
This recipe (photo #1) was adapted from one submitted to Taste Of Home by Joy Dulaney of Highland Village, Texas. The total prep time is less than 30 minutes.
The original recipe called for milk chocolate confectionary coating*. You’ll get much better flavor from using a quality chocolate couverture (we used Guittard). You can also use real chocolate chips.
You can use dark, milk or white chocolate, or split the recipe in half or thirds and make some of each.
The recipe also uses toffee bits, an easier recipe than making caramel peanut clusters. However, if you have caramels on hand, you can chop up an equivalent amount to substitute for the toffee bits. We took that route, and preferred the chewiness of the caramel.
If you don’t want peanuts, use any nut(s) you like. You can also add dried fruits: cranberries, raisins, etc.
1. MELT chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave-safe dish. Stir until smooth.
2. STIR in peanuts and toffee bits. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Let stand until set.
3. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 5 dozen clusters.
You can substitute the toffee/caramel bits for more nutritious inclusions, or divide the eight ounces into equal portions of toffee/caramel and the following::
*Confectionary coating, also called compound coating and decorator’s chocolate, is a chocolate-type product that substitutes vegetable oil for all or part of the cocoa butter. Along with sugar and cocoa powder, traditional chocolate production techniques are used to create a less expensive coating that does not require tempering, melts easily and hardens quickly. In milk chocolate-flavored coatings, whey powders, whey derivatives and dairy blends can be used instead of powdered milk. Products made with confectionary coating must be designated “chocolate-flavored,” to indicate that they are not “real” chocolate.