These tasty little clusters were one of those last-minute ideas that, thankfully, turned out even better than I imagined. Good thing, because most all of my last-minute kitchen ideas of late have been disasters. Like, say, grated parsnips in Crock Pot chili (eww, slimy). So I needed the confidence boost.
See, I was making some chocolate bark with pretzels sticks. But at the last minute, I decided to reserve half of the melted chocolate and stir some of the granola left over from this recipe into the remaining chocolate, pile it in mounds, let it harden, and see what happened.
Pure happiness, that’s what happened. An official member of my taste panel, my sis, said between “mmmm”s that with their nuts and chewy dried fruit, they reminded her of Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars. Except with crunch, compliments of the granola.
In fact, when we taste-tested these along with the salted pretzel bark, the bark was actually kind of forgotten.
So I made them again for real, this time with my toddler helping. I decided to put the clusters into little paper liners to help them stay nice and mounded (and look cute). The little one helped place the liners in mini muffin tins. If one liner works great, then five should work even better! (Not really. Don’t try this at home).
So here’s what you do. You melt a bag of milk chocolate chips. You stir in two cups of granola. You scoop them into mounds in little candy cups. You press a few additional pieces of granola into the top. You wait for a couple of hours for them to harden. And then you devour. Or gift. Or both.
So basically, 10 minutes of hands-on time, if you don’t include the time you’ll spend eating ’em.
The creamy, sweet milk chocolate is the perfect foil for the crunch of rolled oats and coconut, salty pistachios, dried cherries, and little bits of zingy candied ginger that are in the granola I used for this recipe.
I’d imagine that most any granola with salty nuts and tangy dried fruit would work. Go wild! Sometimes kitchen experiments really do pay off. (Whew!)
Fruit and Nut Milk Chocolate Granola Clusters
- 1 11.5-ounce bag milk chocolate chips or baking pieces (I prefer Ghirardelli brand)
- 2 cups of Hazelnut Pistachio Granola with Dried Cherries and Candied Ginger - or your favorite granola (plus another couple of tablespoons of granola for sprinkling on top)
- Line a mini muffin tin with mini (1 1/4-inch) cupcake/candy liners, or set them on a baking sheet or other rigid surface. Set aside.
- Fill a medium saucepan with about an inch of water and put over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and set a double boiler or metal bowl on top of the pan. Pour the chocolate chips in the bowl and stir constantly just until melted. Remove from heat.
- Pour two cups of granola into the chocolate and stir until coated.
- Using two spoons or a cookie scoop, scoop melted chocolate and granola mixture by the tablespoonful into liners. Sprinkle with granola (I try to include a nut and a piece of fruit on top of each one to help people know what to expect when they bite into one).
- Let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until hard.
- Clusters keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.