Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’ve been having a good week. I remember office-life and how hard it was to concentrate at work in these last few weeks of the year. You’re almost there! Almost vacation time. Yay!
To further distract you, I have another totally awesome holiday treat that you should probably make this weekend. And guess what? This one is kinda, sorta healthy! Yay! These little chocolate clusters would be an absolutely great homemade gift for the health-conscious person in your life that maybe doesn’t want to go totally overboard with the holiday gluttony.
Heck, they’d even make a great gift for someone who is diving face first into the dessert buffet—they’ll never know these sweet, tangy, crunchy candies are actually good for them, too! Of course, moderation is key, and downing a few dozen of any holiday goodie (even these healthier candies) is no good, but one or two at a time make a perfect treat.
These clusters are made with heart-healthy, protein-packed raw almonds, antioxidant-powerhouse blueberries and a nice, heavy coating of good-for-you dark chocolate. Basically, these are a superfood wrapped in junk food clothing (which is pretty much my favorite kind of food).
I chose dried blueberries because I love their antioxidant powers and their tangy taste, but you can easily sub in whatever dried fruit makes you happy—dried cherries or cranberries would make for an especially festive treat! You could also leave out the dried fruit all together and mix the almonds with raw peanuts and cashews and make a mixed nut cluster. Yum!
If the health benefits of these guys didn’t sell you, the ease of them should—you can make two dozen of them in about 15 minutes with ingredients that you probably already have kicking around in your pantry. These are the perfect sweet treat for last-minute gifts. Pack them between layers of parchment paper in a nice box with a pretty bow, and you’ve got a gift that will wow most people on your list. They don’t need to know that it took you less time to make their gift than most folks spend in the shower everyday.
I added just a tiny touch of sea salt to the top of each of these clusters, because there is really something about a little bit of salt that just sets off chocolate and almonds. Plus, I think the sea salt looks like a pretty little dusting of snow—fitting, right?
Skip the sea salt if you’re using salted nuts (which I don’t recommend—you have no way of controlling the salt content) or if salted sweet foods just aren’t your bag. Trust me though, it doesn’t taste salty, the salt just helps to make the flavor of the clusters multi-faceted.
If you’re wondering, these suckers are headed into my holiday gift tins along with bags of Cheddar Cheese Straws, Rolo Turtles, Spritz Cookies, plus a few other yet-to-be-determined cookies. And maybe a batch of fudge. Because I just don’t know when to quit. Hopefully our mailman isn’t diabetic.
Enjoy! Have an awesome weekend.
Dark Chocolate Almond and Blueberry Clusters
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 5 minutes | Makes: About 24 clusters
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 2 cups raw, unsalted almonds
- 1-1/2 cups unsweetened dried blueberries
- Sea salt, optional
- Fit a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan filled with 1″ of water over medium-high heat. Add in the chocolate, and heat, stirring frequently, until completely melted—about 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, mix together the almonds and blueberries in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- When chocolate is melted, pour into almond mixture and toss until almonds and blueberries are mostly coated.
- Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the mixture onto waxed paper, forming into a cluster shape. Repeat with remaining mixture. If desired, sprinkle each cluster with a small pinch of sea salt.
- Let cool and harden for about 15 minutes at room temperature, or transfer to fridge and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature.