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Caramel Cashew Clusters

I tore the November page off of my desk calendar last night. I’ve been staring at a gigantic diet coke stain for about 2 weeks and couldn’t take it anymore. Although I’m a couple of days early, seeing December in big, bold letters across my desk made me feel flustered and anxious.

In theory, the holidays really shouldn’t be all that stressful, but let’s face it – they are. My holiday to-do list is a mile long. The rational side of me knows that I’ll never accomplish everything on it, but the go-getter in me forces me to give it one hell of a shot.


Because I know how crazy December can be, I decided to create a variety of recipes to share with you. Some will be a little more involved, but others will be incredibly simple like these Caramel Cashew Clusters. My hope is to arm you with a vast array of holiday recipes that will get you through any cookie swap, gift exchange, holiday party, or emotional eating extravaganza.

Today’s post is all about simplicity. These Cashew Clusters only require a few ingredients; they come together in minutes and always end up disappearing just as quickly as you made them. I hope you adore this sweet and salty holiday candy as much as we do.

Caramel Cashew Clusters

November 29th, 2011

Yield: 20 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

30 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped {about 8 ounces}
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup
salted cashews, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening

Directions:

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine caramels and cream. While stirring constantly, heat mixture until caramels are fully melted. Remove pan from heat.

3. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the vanilla and cashews until they are thoroughly mixed into the melted caramels.

4. Spray a small or medium cookie scoop with non-stick cooking spray and scoop the caramel-cashew mixture 2 inches apart onto the prepared pan. If you prefer a more symmetrically shaped cluster, use your fingers to mold this caramel. Repeat with rest of mixture.

5. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and shortening until smooth stirring every 30 seconds or so.

6. Drizzle melted chocolate over clusters. See recipe notes for storage information.

Notes:

- The clusters are sticky, so you'll want to store them on parchment in the refrigerator. Leave them on the parchment and remove them to room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.
- Definitely feel free to experiment with the type of nuts that you use. Salted pecans or peanuts would be delicious.
- Love chocolate? You can definitely cover these completely with chocolate, you'll just have to play around with the proportions a bit. We prefer them with just a drizzle.


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