This week, I was able to make a veganized version of chocolate almond walnut clusters and they’re so good! We think they’re as good as my old non-vegan peanut cluster recipe. I’ve always made chocolate peanut clusters as Christmas gifts for family and friends. I was almost able to veganize them this past Christmas, but the store-bought peanut butter chips had milk whey listed in the ingredients. Since I was making them for non-vegans, I didn’t worry about it. But, Mr. Key Lime and I wanted to find a way to make vegan chocolate nut clusters for us.
So this Valentine’s Day, I made Homemade Peanut Butter Chips to melt with along with the vegan dark chocolate chips. Perfect!
The peanut butter chips are made with only three ingredients, so everything can be stirred up, popped into the freezer and ready to go in one half hour.
The one challenge I found with these peanut butter chips is the need to freeze/refrigerate the chocolate clusters, due to the use of the “softer” peanut butter chips. With these peanut butter chips, the trays of chocolate clusters just need to be popped into the freezer for around five minutes. After a half hour or so out of the freezer, they will re-soften to the point of you getting chocolate on your fingers. But, most of the time with guests, the chocolate clusters will be gone before a half hour passes, so no worries there.
I always buy raw organic nuts and they need to be roasted before adding them to the recipe. You can use any nuts that you would like. In the past, I’ve used roasted salted peanuts. It’s up to you! If you use raw nuts, to roast them, preheat your oven to 350 F. Spread the nuts in one layer on one or two baking sheets. Place the baking sheet(s) with the nuts into the oven for 8 to 12 minutes, tossing the nuts to rotate halfway through. For this recipe, once the nuts have cooled, break the walnut halves into 1/2-inch pieces. The almonds will be fine if left whole.
If you think you would like saltier nuts in the clusters, sprinkle the nuts with fine grain sea salt before roasting. Or bake the nuts plain and use large grain salt to sprinkle on the top of the clusters when they are still soft.
It might seem counter productive to make the peanut butter chips, freeze them and then melt them with the chocolate chips, when you could just pour them into the chocolate chips while still liquid. One of the reasons I freeze them is so the consistency of the two kinds of chips will be the same before melting. I can also mix the two types of chips in the mixing bowl while they are still unmelted, for evenness. And, finally, I like the idea of melting the coconut oil in the peanut chips a second time for a good blended smoothness. If you make these without first freezing the peanut butter chips mixture, let me know how it works out!
This recipe makes 2 to 3 dozen chocolate clusters, 2 to 3 inches in size. You can make them smaller for more, or larger for fewer clusters.
I’m so happy to have this recipe to make every year now for the holidays! I hope your family enjoys them at your celebrations, too.