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.