Holiday Nut Clusters
December 7, 2016 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I would like to try to make some nut clusters this weekend out of mixed nuts and seeds plus some almond bark. I already have those ingredients. Tips? Suggestions for good additives? How about a nut free version?

I am not usually a candy maker, but I bake pies and cookies and cook dinner. I have a metal bowl and silicone spatulas ready to use over boiling water, but is the microwave a better way to melt the bark? I have some silicone ice cube molds that would make cute pieces. Do I need to grease or dust them? I want a version without nuts, so maybe a pretzel base and then what else? I want some kind of toffee-added version as well. I know I can get Heath bits in the baking aisle, is that a good option?
posted by soelo to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about a nut free version?

Chex, those crispy canned noodles, and lucky charms. M&Ms if you're feeling it. With white chocolate bark.

Affectionately called white trash candy. Trust me on those crispy noodles.
posted by phunniemee at 11:49 AM on December 7, 2016

This might be going a little far afield, but since we've brought in the crispy noodles...

Would haystacks fit your nut-free bill? That recipe mentions nuts, but also mentions that you can just as well leave them out.

Those things are hands down the trashiest thing on our christmas cookie list and also one of the first to disappear. They are like magic.

You'll most likely find the crispy noodles (they also come in bags) in the "Asian" section of your local white-bread grocery store. This is not the time to hit up an actual Asian grocery store.
posted by telepanda at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2016

Ooh yes, adding butterscotch chips and chow mein noodles (as we used to call them) to my list! Lucky Charms as well, assuming I can't find the marshmallows alone.
posted by soelo at 12:30 PM on December 7, 2016

assuming I can't find the marshmallows alone.

Friend, have I got the site for you:
posted by phunniemee at 12:32 PM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've made bark with dried cranberries and candied ginger. Also, peppermint bark is great at this time of year.
posted by sarajane at 2:01 PM on December 7, 2016

Take a look at this smitten kitchen recipe. Might be adaptable to your needs!
posted by prettypretty at 3:09 PM on December 7, 2016

Non-nut bark ideas:
crushed Oreos or Thin Mints
cacao nibs
cornflakes or rice krispies
dried cherries
toffee bits
crushed espresso beans
mini Reeses cups
posted by ananci at 4:43 PM on December 7, 2016

Just chiming in to address a few of your questions regarding technique and the molds...

* No need to grease or dust any of the molds. Chocolate contracts when it cools, so it will pop out of your molds with just a little bit of care.
* If they aren't already roasted, you'll want to toast the nuts in the oven for the best flavor and crunch. Do each variety on it's own baking sheet. 350 degrees until they take on the color and flavor you want. Pinenuts go really quickly (5-6 minutes). Pistachios come roasted, so only may need a few minutes to refresh them. Almonds may take 12-15 mins (snap or cut one open to look for a pale tan color - they won't be crispy until they cool down)
* Here is the easiest way to melt chocolate (or bark).

Hope this helps. Have fun!
posted by jenquat at 8:14 PM on December 7, 2016

Nut-free possibility: I've never tried this with any sweet snacks, but if you take some canned chickpeas, drain them, get the skins off, and roast them (after tossing them in a little oil -- and this is a good time to add spices too if desired), they'll get crunchy. They taste kinda nutty, too. I bet you could add those to some seeds and get some crunchy texture. (I usually make them into a corn-nuts-like snack.)

Once I was going to (and never did for other reasons) make a baklava for a friend who'd never had it due to her tree-nut allergy, and had found a recipe or two online that indicated it was a reasonable substitution for a sweet application.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:56 AM on December 8, 2016

My kitchen is still recovering, but I did make the clusters, haystacks and those crunchy almonds from smitten kitchen =) I also have one batch of microwave peanut brittle, one good batch of honeycomb candy and one that didn't set. Candy mistakes are the best mistakes.
posted by soelo at 9:31 AM on December 12, 2016

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