This might be the easiest chocolate candy ever. It's a simple concept of mixing melted chocolate with nuts, and maybe sea salt flakes. They're delicious, ready in 25 minutes, and the perfect treat to make with kids, for kids' birthdays, and as a holiday gift.
Peanuts or peanut butter and chocolate is a hugely popular and mouthwatering flavor combination.
But any chocolate goes.
I use all three for this recipe: dark, milk, and white. The final flavor is different and I love it. I highly encourage you to find your sweet chocolate spot.
Homemade chocolate candy
This is a similar concept to chocolate bark.
The idea of making your own chocolate bar is so appealing, in my opinion, and if you also thought for years that certain flavors or candies could only be achieved by huge companies with complicated, expensive machinery, the excitement and surprise after the first bite is multiplied by a gazillion.
They taste superb and you know exactly what the ingredient list is, which is always a big plus.
- Chocolate: I mix the three types (semisweet, milk, and white chocolate), sometimes only dark and white. But this recipe works with one kind of chocolate also. Whatever you love or are in the mood for.
- Peanuts: I highly recommend toasted peanuts because the flavor is more pronounced. I buy them toasted (you can do it at home if you purchase natural nuts) and add some of my favorite sea salt. But to make your life easier, you can use already salted peanuts. The downside is that you can't control the amount of salt.
- Sea salt: is optional, but it adds another layer of flavor that complements the chocolate and peanuts very well. I use and love Maldon sea salt. Kosher salt also works well as it's coarser than regular, fine table salt.
See the recipe card towards the end of this post for quantities.
How to make peanut clusters
This process is so simple, quick and easy that it's almost a 'no recipe' recipe.
Two ways to melt chocolate:
- Microwave. Melt chopped chocolate on high for 10 seconds, take out and mix well. Repeat until all the chocolate is melted. Be careful you don't scorch it. That's why it's important to mix it well between each heating.
- Stovetop. Place the bowl with the chopped chocolate over a small saucepan with a few inches of water. Over medium heat, let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water and that no water gets into the bowl. If the water boils too much before the chocolate is melted, turn the heat off and let the hot vapor melt the remaining chocolate.
Melted chocolate and peanuts are combined in a bowl.
Form mounds: use parchment paper to line the baking or cookie sheets. I use a ⅛ measuring cup, but you can use measuring tablespoons or regular ones.
Let the clusters dry: this takes me 15 minutes, but it will vary depending on the size of the mounds and the type of chocolate you use. They are ready when completely dry, not just the tops but also the centers, and you can remove them easily from the parchment paper.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperatures, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier!
- Chocolate: I highly recommend using already tempered chocolate for a better finish. You can buy it as melting chocolate wafers. If using semisweet chocolate bars, you want to temper them first or you'll get a dull finish. But the flavor will still be great. Tempering chocolate is not advisable for beginner bakers. That said, here's a good way of tempering chocolate without a thermometer that can help you.
- Parchment paper: or wax paper both work very well and make it easy to remove once the clusters are dried.
- Easier cleaning: using parchment paper will simplify your life because if some chocolate gets stuck, you throw the paper away and don't have to clean the whole tray or baking sheet.
- Nuts: peanuts and chocolate never fail, but you can use hazelnuts (fantastic combo!), walnuts or any other nut you like paired with chocolate.
- Variations: these clusters can be customized with other ingredients such as coconut, dried fruit, pretzels, and cookie chunks. Get creative and make them your own!
Troubleshooting common issues
- Preventing the chocolate from seizing: when working with chocolate, it's important to keep it dry and avoid any contact with water, which can cause it to seize and become clumpy. Make sure all of your equipment is completely dry, and avoid using a damp spatula or spoon when stirring the chocolate.
- How do I get the peanut clusters to stick together? The melted chocolate acts as a binding agent for the peanut clusters, but you'll need to mix the peanuts thoroughly with the chocolate to ensure that each cluster is coated and sticks together.
- How do I store the chocolate peanut clusters? Store your chocolate peanut clusters in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If you prefer a firmer texture, you can also store them in the refrigerator, but be aware that they may develop a white film on the surface due to temperature changes.
Related recipes you might like:
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- 1 pound chocolate, tempered is best (a mix of semisweet, white, and milk, only one or two of them) see Notes below
- 1 ¾ cup toasted or roasted peanuts (see Notes below)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Melt chocolates together in the microwave, in 10-15 seconds (at the most) spurts and whisking it thoroughly until some pieces won't melt before microwaving it again. Stop when it's all mixed, don't overcook it because it goes from smooth to scorched in seconds. Or in a bowl over simmering water, being careful the chocolate doesn't touch the water.
- Add peanuts, salt, and mix very well, until it's all coated.
- Drop by tablespoons (or with a ⅛ measuring cup) onto prepared sheets.
- Let dry completely at room temperature, which will take about 15 minutes. Larger mounds will take longer.
- Keep at room temperature, in a cool place. I like to use metal tins, but they disappear fast.
Organization: always read the recipe before starting and make sure you have all the ingredients measured and at the right temperature, the right pan size, utensils, and enough counter space to work comfortably.
Chocolate: I highly recommend using already tempered chocolate for a better finish. But, since it can sometimes have other ingredients that you might not like, tempering it first is a good idea. If you don't (it's a quick step but here's a good way of tempering chocolate without a thermometer) the peanut clusters will not be shiny but the flavor will be great. Types of chocolate: I like to use ¾ semisweet and ¼ white chocolate OR ⅔ semisweet and the final ⅓ half milk and half white. But any combination works really.
Peanuts: to make your life easier, you can use already salted peanuts and omit the salt in the recipe. The downside is that you can't control the amount of salt.
Parchment paper: or wax paper, they both work very well and make it easy to remove once the clusters are dried.
Easier cleaning: using parchment paper will make your life simpler because if some chocolate gets stuck you simply throw the paper away and don't have to clean the whole tray o baking sheet.
Nuts: peanuts and chocolate never fail, but you can use hazelnuts (amazing combo!), walnuts or any other nut you like paired with chocolate.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Drying time: 15
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Melting + mixing
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Chocolate peanut clusters
Adapted from a very old Bon Appetit magazine