Sunday, February 1, 2015

Month-of-MiniDesserts: Hot Chocolate Nuts

You won! Well, everybody who voted for mini-desserts for February’s Month-of-Recipes won. And I like to think that even if you didn’t, you still win because some great stuff is coming your way.

Interestingly, on my search for some new recipes for this month, I realized that a search for “mini-desserts” turned up two kinds of recipes: single serving and actual tiny desserts that are smaller than a usual serving. So, I am going to do both.

Also, cookies by definition are mini-desserts. Each cookies is a tiny serving. Now if you eat a dozen, I can’t help that! By the same token, cookie bars/brownies in a pan also can be mini-desserts. But you already do those. You came here for something a bit different. And, boy, do I have some that are a bit different for you this month!

I hope you have those cute shot glasses with tiny spoons and mini-muffin pans and half pint canning jars. We’ll be using those a lot!
So let’s start with something easy for a Super Bowl Sunday treat. You probably already have the ingredients, so if you need to throw something quick together for the party this evening, here you go!

I adapted a recipe from Good Housekeeping for their 2-ingredient chocolate almond clusters. We all know that dark chocolate and almonds are both on the good-for-you list, so these are practically a health food! And when I changed up the nut combo and added the red pepper flakes, well, almost a health food.

Hot Chocolate Nuts (makes 48)

8 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, rough chopped
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup roasted almonds
½ cup pecans, rough chopped
½ cup walnuts, rough chopped

NOTE: You can use any nut combo you want adding up to 1 1/2 cups.
Arrange 40 mini-muffin/candy paper or foil cups in mini-muffin pans (to keep from spreading) or on a large cookie sheet. Alternatively, cover the cookie sheet with parchment paper and use that for each nut cluster.

In a glass bowl, microwave half of the chocolate for about 20 seconds. Stir and heat again until all the chocolate has just melted. This will likely take up to a minute and a half. But monitor it by using 20 second intervals. You don’t want the chocolate to seize up.

After the first half of the chocolate has melted, add the remainder and stir until all the chocolate is melted. Add the red pepper flakes.

Cool chocolate for about 3 minutes and then blend in the nuts thoroughly.

Working fast, drop teaspoonfuls into your mini-muffin/candy cups or on the parchment paper.

Cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or more until set up. These keep refrigerated in a covered container for about a month.

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