When I was growing up, our freezer was filled with chocolate. Plastic molds filled with chocolate Santas at Christmastime, chocolate bunnies, at Easter, and sometimes the occasional birthday party treat. The thing was, none of the chocolate was actually for us to eat. My mother is an RN, and when she took a few years off after the birth of me, her third child, she started making chocolate to earn some extra money.
She was very successful, and loves to tell us how she bought her first microwave (circa 1986) with her chocolate earnings. Even though my siblings and I mostly tease her about her top-selling Dolly Parton Lollipops (bachelor parties loved those), we were, and are still, proud of her cottage industry. She was so ahead of her times.
The one thing she did make for us, which was absolutely my favorite, were her chocolate clusters. I realize now it was essentially a way for her to use up chocolate melts without using a candy mold, but I don’t care. Those treats were good.
In my dairy-free life, I missed the occasional chocolate delicacy. While vegan chocolate chips are great for
making cookies scooping by the handful, they lack some of the elegance of a “real chocolate.” Last year I notice recipes on Pinterest for 3 ingredient vegan chocolate, and I got curious. Could this be the answer to my conundrum? Turns out, with some tweaking, yes.
While I do have silicone chocolate molds, the 2016 version of mom’s 1980s plastic, I like to make clusters by combining homemade chocolate with nuts and dried fruit more often. The chocolate itself has healthy fat and antioxidants from the coconut oil and cocoa/cacao powder, and the nuts and dried fruit simply up its game.
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (more if you like it sweeter)
- pinch sea salt, if desired
- Cluster makers-almonds, raisins, cranberries, cashews, walnuts, etc.
- Melt coconut oil in microwave or in saucepan (
- mix in cocoa/cacao powder with spoon
- mix in maple syrup, taste and add more if desired.
- add salt
- mix in desired cluster ingredients (nuts, dried fruit, etc.)
- Drop by tablespoons onto plate or cookie sheet lined with wax paper or silpat. Freeze until hard.
- Store in refrigerator or freezer.
- *If you mixture is too thin, add more cocoa/cacao powder.
My kids love the clusters with cranberries. My husband loves the raw almond variety. I like the raisins, just like my mom used to make. Maybe someday I’ll get
crazy adventurous and sell these little gems, but for now I’m happy to share them with friends, bring them to meeting of my women’s circle, or enjoy them with my husband as we watch the Bachelor. It’s a Monday tradition.