Simple Christmas Gifts Even Kids Can Make: Nut Clusters

Nut clusters are a very popular treat in Britain among adults and children alike: they even form part of the assortment of chocolate collections such as Nestlé’s ‘Black Magic’ and Cadbury’s ‘Milk Tray’.

Here are three ‘no-bake’ recipes that are simple enough for children to make (with some supervision) and provide an ideal way to involve children in producing something they enjoy and can give to their friends and relatives as something made especially for them. A baking recipe is also included, in which the nuts are held together with cookie dough. A range of nuts can be used (peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds) but walnuts, peanuts and hazelnuts form the classic nut clusters. The first recipe also works well with cereal such as frosted flakes or Cocopops.

No-bake Chocolate Nut Clusters

Probably, the simplest recipe for chocolate nut clusters ever.

  • 12 oz (340 g) of chocolate in chips or small pieces
  • 12 oz of unsalted peanuts (or any other variety of nuts, unsalted and roughly chopped)
  1. Place the pieces of chocolate in a well-greased microwave-safe bowl and cook on High in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time until the chocolate has fully melted, stirring after each heating phase.
  2. Mix the nuts into the melted chocolate.
  3. Place a heaped tablespoon of the mixture 1” (2.5 cm) apart on waxed or grease-proof paper and leave to cool completely.
  4. Store in an airtight container.

Note

For children’s treats, these clusters can also be made with frosted flakes or Cocopops, etc., instead of the nuts.

Caramel-Nut Popcorn Clusters

  • 14 oz (400 g) package of caramel candies
  • 2 tbsp of whipping cream
  • 3 cups of microwavable caramel-flavored popcorn kernels
  • 1 cup of dry roasted peanuts or other unsalted nuts, chopped
  1. Pop the corn kernels in the microwave and set aside.
  2. Combine the caramels and whipping cream in a glass bowl.
  3. Microwave at HIGH for 3 minutes or until melted, stirring the mixture halfway through.
  4. Place the popcorn and peanuts in a large bowl.
  5. Drizzle with caramel sauce, tossing gently to coat.
  6. Place heaped tablespoons of the popcorn mixture 1” apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  7. Leave to cool and set.
  8. Store in an airtight container.

No-bake Raisin Nut Clusters

These clusters are somewhat softer than the preceding two and are best stored in the refrigerator.

  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 16 oz (454 g) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup of dry roasted peanuts or other unsalted nuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of raisins
  1. Place the chocolate chips in a well-greased microwave-safe bowl and cook on High in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time until the chocolate has fully melted, stirring after each heating phase.
  2. Stir in the condensed milk and cook in the microwave in 1-minute phases for 5-6 minutes or until thickened, stirring well after each phase to avoid sticking.
  3. Cook a little longer if the mixture is not thick enough to act as a glue to hold the raisins and peanuts together in clumps.
  4. Add the raisins and peanuts to the mixture and stir well to coat.
  5. Place heaped tablespoons of the fruit and nut mixture 1” apart on wax or greaseproof paper.
  6. Refrigerate until firmly set.
  7. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

Peanut Cluster Cookies

  • 1½ oz (45 g) plain chocolate
  • 4 tbsp (2 oz / 50 g) of butter
  • ½ cup (4 oz / 120g) of superfine or caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1½ tsp (7.5 ml) of vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (2 oz / 60 g) of plain flour
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) of salt
  • 1¼ tsp (6.25 g) of baking powder
  • 6 oz (175g) of chopped peanuts (or other unsalted nuts, chopped)
  • Powdered sugar, for coating
  1. Grease three baking sheets and line with waxed or grease-proof paper then set them aside until needed.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  3. Cream together the sugar and the butter until fluffy.
  4. Break the chocolate into small pieces (or use plain chocolate morsels) and place in a well-greased microwave-safe bowl. Cook on High in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time until the chocolate has fully melted, stirring after each heating phase.
  5. Add the melted chocolate to the butter cream mixture and mix it in thoroughly.
  6. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until the mixture is smooth.
  7. Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder and fold into the mixture.
  8. Add the nuts and combine well.
  9. Drop heaped tablespoons of the mixture, spaced 1½” (4 cm) apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Place in the oven and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and transfer the clusters to wire racks to cool.
  11. Dredge with powdered sugar and store in an airtight tin.

All these clusters make great Christmas presents.

How to Make Clusters into Small Christmas Gifts and Thankyou Gifts

These clusters are ideal little gifts for children to give at Christmas or as thankyou gifts. They are simple enough for the children to make them themselves, with supervision.

  1. To turn them into a gift, place half a dozen clusters on a square of colored cellophane wrap, bring the corners together above the pile of clusters, twist the corners together and hold them with a colored bag tie or piece of festive colored twine.
  2. The little ‘bags’ of clusters can be laid on a bed of colored tissue paper in a small decorative box or in a decorative mug or glass or ceramic jar.
  3. Wrap the presents as normal and use them as presents for your children to give to grandparents and schoolfriends or for you to give to friends and neighbors to remember them at Christmas.

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