Cooking 101 - Aunt Jen's Peanut Clusters

My husband's aunt Jen is one of my most favorite people on earth. She once showed me how she made her signature peanut clusters and my jaw hit the floor as I'm watching her microwave chocolate chips, throw in the peanuts, and plop them down on waxed paper. She was done and my mouth was still wide open with awe. (probably with drool puddling everywhere.)
It's seriously that easy - I had no idea. I've been making them every Christmas since!

Here's what you'll need:
3 pkgs. Ghiradelli chocolate chips - I used 1 pkg semi-sweet and 2 pkgs milk
1 16-oz. jar Dry Roasted peanuts
2 large cookie sheets lined with waxed paper

Melt chocolate either in a double broiler or carefully in the microwave. The microwave will burn the chocolate if you don't stir and rotate it often. (I KNOW this...) Like I said before, my fancy, high-tech double broiler is a huge glass mixing bowl atop my stockpot with softly boiling water. Too much steam will ruin the chocolate, so make sure the burner is turned down fairly low. (I KNOW this, too...I've ruined lots of chocolate, honey!)

When your chocolate is melty and creamy, add your peanuts a little at a time. If you have too much chocolate, add more peanuts. You know the mixture is perfect when all of the peanuts are coated with chocolate and there's not much excess chocolate.

Then drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto your waxed paper cookie sheets and let them cool. I usually put mine out in my 20-degree garage for a little bit and they're perfect, but for those of you NOT living in the Arctic regions, your fridge will work. Or just let them sit on your counter.

Store the clusters in an air-tight container and if you need them to last a while, keep them in the fridge until you have to use them. After a few days, the chocolate gets grainy.

ENJOY!!!! I love ya, Aunt Jen!


Jessica said...

My favorite way to melt chocolate, and never burn it, is to do it in a fry pan/skillet on your stove top at a 1 setting (low) and just stir every once in awhile. It melts so smoothly and I have never ruined chocolate that way, whereas the microwave I have ruined DOZENS of times.
Sometime try to throw in salted sunflower seeds instead of peanuts, it is SO yummy, the seeds are really salty and the clusters are so easy to bite into and it is just a yummy cluster to make.

Chanda said...

I made your turtles the other day - burned 4 bags of chocolate. Not one, two or even three, FOUR! How dense can one person be? I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. No steam was getting in. I finally researched on Food Network and I had the water below it boiling too hot. Cut it down, and everything was fine. But did I mention that wasn't until FOUR BAGS LATER?! Ay ay ay! Turned out great. Thanks again for the yummy tip. I'll tell my neighbors to just send the thank you cards to you.

Abby said...

HAHAHAHA! I'll add your four bags to my SIX and that's TEN bags of stinking chocolate ruined!!! (moment of silence, please.....) If only I knew Jessica before, I would have spared some valuable chocolate.

Jessica said...

Try melting it my way and let me know what you think.

Abby said...

Jessica - I'm absolutely going to try your method. Anything to save my precious chocolate!

DeGooyer Family said...

We made these tonight after Church and a lot of them stuck to the tin foil!! And I even sprayed it with Pam first. But they were very tasty. =)

Sally said...

I am so happy to have found your blog. I am using all of your recent recipes for Christmas this year! I just made the Peanut Clusters with my 3-year-old. We halved the recipe since hubby bought me one bag of chips (1/2 at home). I microwaved and stirred in 30 second increments and it only took 3 passes (1:30). My daughter had a ball stirring in the nuts and spooning it onto the waxed paper. Can't wait to taste! Merry Christmas!