Making chocolate covered cashew clusters could not be easier. During the hectic holidays or one's hectic life, having a chocolate confection that is simple, relatively quick to make, and doesn't require much planning ahead can be a lifesaver. If you believe in keeping things simple, chocolate covered cashews could become one of your favorite things to make and give to family and friends.
Like with most things, the quality of the ingredients can sometimes mean the difference between 'not so good' and 'really great'. Whatever you do, don't use the chocolate wafers that come in every color under the rainbow (you know the ones I am talking about, they are the ones often called 'candy melts' or 'almond bark' as these are generally made with vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter). One of my favorite chocolate shops in Illinois is Grahams. Their milk chocolate confectioner's discs are perfect for making cashew clusters (available online for those you not living in the western suburbs of Chicago). (The dark chocolate confectioner's discs from Grahams's are equally perfect.) However, the Ghiradelli melting chocolate discs work really well too. If you have a chocolatier near where you live and they sell confectioner's chocolate, you have yet another option. In other words, I am trying to eliminate all of the obstacles for you!
Melting good chocolate, mixing in roasted, salted whole cashews and dropping by the tablespoonful on parchment paper is the extent of this 'recipe'. The size of the cashew clusters is about the only decision you need to make. Once the chocolate cashew clusters have set simply place them in small candy papers. If you are not serving them on the day you make them, just store in a covered container. These are so addictively good that you may have to hide them from your family if you were planning on serving them at a gathering.
Chocolate Covered Cashew Clusters
1 pound of milk chocolate confectioner's discs (recommend Grahams Chocolates or Ghiradelli Melting Chocolate) or for those of you like dark chocolate I recommend using a semi-sweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cocoa)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds of roasted and salted whole cashews (a generous 3 cups)
1. Melt chocolate discs in a glass bowl set over a pan of hot, simmering water.
2. When chocolate has melted, remove bowl from pan. Stir in cashews.
3. Drop tablespoons of the cashew/chocolate mixture on parchment paper. Allow chocolate to set.
4. Place cashew clusters in small paper cups.
5. Store cashews in a covered container.
Just like any act of service, there are always small ways to show others you care. For me, cooking and/or baking for others has been my way of sharing a small part of myself, of showing gratefulness. The holidays always provide me with the opportunity to thank people that extended a kindness to me over the year even if I had already shown my appreciation and thankfulness to them.
For me the best kindnesses are the ones unexpected, the ones genuine, and the ones coming from the heart. It is often hard to repay these kindnesses, because more often than not, they are given without the expectation of anything in return. And it is the simplest of kindnesses that are the most endearing. A bag of my favorite brought when working a really long day, a note left on a windshield, freshly picked flowers waiting for me, and the 'just thinking of you' phone call are just some of the kindnesses permanently etched in my memory, in my heart.