Sunday, March 6, 2011
Dark chocolate coconut clusters
After my last dessert recipe turned out so be so popular I decided to try out another one. This recipe is a bit simpler than the chocolate peanut butter middles, but it's still delicious. These dark chocolate coconut clusters are essentially a no-bake version of macaroons. I'm a huge dark chocolate fan, so expect a lot of these desert recipes to be popping up on the blog. For this recipe I'm using some Green & Blacks Organic 70 percent cacao dark chocolate. You can use a higher percent cacao chocolate if you want for this recipe. The recipe I'm basing this on from 101 Cookbooks used a 70 percent cacao chocolate. I just recently got into coconut so this is the first recipe I've tried using it.
The original ingredients are below with my notes in italics. The directions are slightly modified from the original, again with my notes in italics.
2 1/2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted and cooled (I initially toasted the coconut by putting it in the oven for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. This turned out to be way too long and it was overdone. I forgot that I only wanted them lightly toasted and my oven overcooks everything. I can't say how this would have affected the taste of the final product, but it was definitely not what the recipe called for. I put a second batch in for about 8 minutes and that turned out better. In the picture below you can see the properly toasted batch on the left and the overcooked batch on the right.)
1/2 cup toasted almonds, cooled and chopped (I toasted the almonds in the oven for 10 minutes at 325 degrees.)
7-8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans (optional) (I did not add the espresso because I didn't have any around, though I think it would add some nice extra flavor.)
a big grain finishing salt - if you can get your hands on a smoked one, great (I just used a bit of wide grained sea salt for this.)
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. (I used parchment paper, since I don't have a silpat. My somewhat limited resources will be a running theme throughout the blog.)
2. Toast the coconut and almonds. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Combine the coconut and almonds in a large bowl.
4. Place the chocolate in a double boiler to melt along with the ground espresso. (In addition to not having a silpat I also don't have an actual double boiler. Fortunately, I was able to make an easy stand-in out of two similarly sized pots.)
5. Pour the chocolate over the coconut mixture and stir to combine.
6. Let cool a few minutes and then drop by the tablespoonful onto the baking sheet.
7. Finish with a few grains of salt on top of each.
8. The mixture will be a bit crumbly, but will set as the chocolate cools. If your kitchen is on the cool side the clusters will set up over the course of an hour or so. If you want to speed up the process a bit, pop them in the refrigerator. (I put them in the fridge, both because I'm impatient and to protect them from my cat.)
This may not be the prettiest looking recipe, but it is absolutely delicious. Admittedly, its hard to mess up dark chocolate, almonds and coconut. The quality of the chocolate was very important. I'm glad I decided to spend a couple of extra bucks to get a better brand. The recipe wound up making 30 clusters, but the amount will depend on how large you make them. The original recipe suggested that it would produce 36 clusters, so they must have been pretty small. This was a really simple recipe that I highly recommend as long as taste is more important to you than aesthetics.