Monday, February 24, 2014

Milk Chocolate, Nut, and Raisin Clusters

I own the fact that I have an overactive sweet tooth. It frequently takes command of my food choices. That could be why I ran to the kitchen the minute I read about these chocolate clusters. They were in the February issue of Food and Wine in a story about Patricia Wells’ updated edition of her book Food Lover’s Guide to Paris. In the magazine, there are four itineraries for food and shopping tours around Paris. I really wanted to book a flight, but since that wasn’t possible on such short notice, I made candies instead. The recipe is from Chef Alain Ducasse, and they’re sold at his new shop. First, I was surprised that this simple, homey cluster of goodness lacking any sort of chic presentation came from such an acclaimed chef. And, next, I noticed there are cornflakes in the clusters. I believe this is the first French recipe I’ve encountered that called for cornflakes. There are also feuilletine flakes, but rather than ordering those online, I went with the option of using more cornflakes. There are two problems with this recipe. One is that it was very difficult to not eat all of the mixture before even spooning it into clusters, and the other issue was refraining from eating all the finished clusters in one sitting. 

The nuts and fruit could easily be changed out to use whatever you prefer, but I followed the suggested ingredients, other than skipping the feuilletine flakes, to taste the candies as they’re made by Ducasse. Hazelnuts were toasted in the oven and then rubbed in a towel to remove the skins before being roughly chopped. I bought a new container of golden raisins, but they seemed very dry. So, I soaked my raisins in hot water for twenty minutes, drained them well, and dried them on a towel. I used all cornflakes, and chopped, unsalted pistachios. Salt was added separately. The milk chocolate I used has a high percentage of cacao for milk chocolate at 40%. Another surprising ingredient that made me curious about these clusters was the addition of some white chocolate. There was no explanation for it, but I went with the suggested amount. The chocolates were melted and then half of the mixed chocolates was poured over the mix of cornflakes, raisins, and nuts. The mixture was carefully folded to distribute the chocolate, and then the remaining melted chocolate was added and folded until everything was completely coated. I used a tablespoon-size scoop to create the clusters which sat on lined baking sheets until set. 

I’m still wondering why the white chocolate was added. Maybe it made the flavor richer or slightly sweeter? The result was without a doubt delightful. The clusters were sweet and chocolatey with just enough salt for balance, and I did put a few flakes of sea salt on top of each one. The real fun in these clusters, though, is the mix of textures. Crunchy nuts, shatteringly crisp cornflakes, and chewy raisins all covered in chocolate made my sweet tooth very happy. 


21 comments:

  1. I would totally do this with potato chips!
    And then not share!

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  2. Too bad I have none of these ingredients, I also have an urge to have some of these clusters :)

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  3. What kind of chocolate chips are those? I've never seen the flat discs.

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    1. I buy them at Whole Foods or Central Market. They're with the big chunks of chocolate that are cut, wrapped, and marked by cacao %. They melt better than chocolate chips since they don't have any added stabilizers.

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  4. my sweet tooth could rival yours, no doubt about it. the white chocolate and corn flakes are great additions. i'd love a batch of these and they definitely wouldn't last long.

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  5. Yum! These clusters just look and sound delicious, the crunchy, and chewy...all in one bite...YUM again!
    Thanks for the recipe, have a great week Lisa :D

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  6. Wow! These look sooo addictive. They might make it to the cluster stage in our house. Maybe. ;-)

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  7. These would be great for a party. I love the mixture of textures too - great ingredients for a perfect snack xx

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  8. These looks so delicious! I should make them for the kids, ready for when they get home!
    Gourmet Getaways

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  9. these look absolutely amazing Lisa!

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  10. Bellìsimo es una delicia mi querida Lisa,abrazos.

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  11. I saw the chocolates and wondered the same thing. I like you clusters…the only thing I would change is to use dark chocolate but that is just a personal preference. Karen (Back Road Journal)

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  12. Dear Lisa, I have enjoyed these myself. They are very difficult not to finish during the making and after. They are delicious.
    Blessings dear. Catherine xo

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  13. Lisa, can you believe I am flying to Paris in 72 hours? Yeap.... we have a work-related trip, but of course Paris is always full with pleasure too.

    I saw that article on food and wine and hope I'll be able to follow some of the tips, although when we go there we tend to go to the same "old places" of the times we lived there.

    can hardly wait!

    I don't remember now when I saw a chocolate concoction made with corn flakes, I am wondering if it was Happy in the Kitchen, but maybe not.

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  14. I am going to make these for my daughter. She is going to love these. thanks for sharing

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  15. This takes me right back to my childhood when we used to make these sorts of treats with my grandmother.

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  16. Beautiful photographs of a well-executed sweet, Lisa! And with less hassle than flying to Paris :)

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  17. I posted these a few weeks back, I used dark chocolate, and we loved them!

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  18. I could see this being a dangerous eat-all-the-batter situation. But I still want them!

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