chocolate almond clusters

I've been so busy at work during the week and busy during the weekend baking for Christmas week when Saturday arrived I'd completely forgotten I needed to make something for the blog for Monday. I looked through the cupboards and looked to the internet for inspiration.

Each year at Christmas I like to make home made goodies to give to my neighbours and workmates. I'd planned to make peppermint bark, as that's always popular and an Ottolenghi cookie recipe but I when I came upon this recipe for almond ginger clusters, I figured I could easily add a third item as I had everything I needed in the pantry.

The original recipe was made using ginger. Not every-one is a fan of crystallised ginger so I decided to make 3 different clusters. I made one batch with dried apricots; the second batch with sour cherries and the third batch with chopped crystallised ginger.

I made the toasted almonds earlier in the day and I figure I ate a quarter of the almond mixture as it was so yummy. The recipe was supposed to make 36 clusters but I could only get 33 from the mixture. I wonder how that could have happened?

I have so many blocks of chocolate in my fridge so I used a mixture of what was there - 70% cocoa with sea salt, 70% cocoa without sea salt and a small quantity of 45% cocoa chocolate. As we've now headed into summer in Sydney, there was no way these clusters would set without refrigeration. They needed about 20 minutes. By the time I finished making the 3 batches my t-shirt was covered with chocolate. I am such a messy cook.

Here's the recipe for you and please note, I use a 250ml cup and a 20ml tablespoon.

Chocolate Almond Clusters – makes 33
180g (6ozslivered almonds 
30g (1ozicing sugar 
1½ tablespoons golden syrup 
1 tablespoon water 
90g (3ozdried or candied fruits, chopped finely. I used 30g each of dried apricots, sour cherries and ginger 
340g (12ozgood quality dark chocolate 60-70% cocoa 

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Combine almonds, sugar, golden syrup and water in a small bowl, mixing until sugar dissolves. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and spread nut mixture into a thin, even layer covering the entire sheet. Toast for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the almonds are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on rack. 

When cooled to room temperature, crumble any chunks and combine with the chopped dried fruit in a small bowl. I made 3 different fruit clusters, so I separated the almond mixture into 3 small bowls. Into one bowl I placed the chopped ginger; into the second bowl went the sour cherries and in the 3rd bowl the dried apricots.  

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over low heat or in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Into each small bowl combine 1/3 of the chocolate and mix until uniformly coated with chocolate. Use 2 teaspoons (I used my cookie scoop) to form into 1-inch mounds. Work quickly so chocolate does not set before clusters are formed. Repeat with remaining chocolate and almond mixtures. 

Cool until set then store in an airtight container in the fridge.  As an alternative, all of the chocolate and almond mixture can be combined at one time and spread onto the parchment lined sheet pan. Break into bite size pieces after chocolate has solidified.

I'm planning to include a few of each flavour in a little cello goodie bag. I decorated each set of clusters so I'd know which one was which. There are sea salt flakes on the apricot clusters, finely sliced ginger on the ginger clusters and you guessed, it a sliver of sour cherry on the sour cherry clusters. 

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


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