I’d say it’s only right that we finish the week off with some chocolate – what do you think?
I hope we’re all in agreement. Say hello to these chewy, chocolaty clusters of cranberry-walnut goodness.
Here is the deal with these chocolate clusters: They are the cranberry-walnut version of the no-bake quinoa cookies I posted a few weeks ago. Basically, I liked those quinoa cookies wayyyy too much not to make a few more versions of them. And you guys seemed to like them, too! I knew I wanted a chewy, nutty version of those cookies, and after a bit of experimentation, I declared this simple combination of dried cranberries and toasted walnuts the clear winner.
While the quinoa no-bakes are definitely a cookie, these fall more in candy territory, probably because they have nothing resembling a grain to make you think “cookie.” Instead, tart dried cranberries and nutty toasted walnuts are piled on top of each other and held together with a fudgy chocolate batter.
Let me tell you about the best part of these clusters: THE TEXTURE. They are so chewy, in a satisfying (not jaw-aching) way. The cranberries provide the chew and the walnuts, being somewhat soft, create a nice textural contrast. And then there’s the chocolate! The chocolate is soft (if you’ve had a no-bake cookie, you know what I’m talking about), and just perfect for letting you bite off chewy chunks of cranberries and nuts. Yum yum yum. That is the sound of me fantasizing about chomping down on one of these as I type!
I opted to use almond butter in the chocolate base of these clusters, rather than the peanut butter I used in the quinoa cookies. The peanut butter, when I tried it, overpowered the walnuts, and made it confusing that these were walnut clusters rather than peanut clusters. Almond butter, on the other hand, has a more delicate flavor. You really just taste chocolate, walnuts and cranberries! You can definitely use peanut butter if you don’t have almond butter available. But deeeefinitely opt for creamy almond butter if you can.
An integral part of this recipe is eating a spoonful or two of the warm batter before you form cookies out of it. Ohhh yum. Melty and delicious. Please do that, because it is possibly the best part.
I hope you have plans for a fun and/or relaxing weekend! Things are a bit crazy over here – I will be cheering Nate on as he runs a(nother) half marathon Saturday morning, cooking a few Thanksgiving side dishes for a wonderful Friendsgiving party Saturday night, then taking off on Sunday for a last-minute getaway with girlfriends. I could not be more excited! Good thing I have some chocolate to fuel me :)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (I use Grade B)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups walnut halves, lightly toasted
- 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
- Line a baking sheet or a few plates with parchment paper and clear a space in your freezer for them.
- In a small pot, bring maple syrup, cocoa powder, and coconut oil to a boil over medium heat, stirring to combine. Let boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
- Stir in almond butter, vanilla and salt until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in walnut halves and cranberries.
- Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the parchment paper. Place in freezer to set; this will take 20-30 minutes. Once set, transfer to a covered container and store in the fridge.