Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Walnut Pecan Clusters

5289679076 39afefa5b3 z Walnut Pecan Clusters

Silence. Isn’t it beautiful? I can finally hear myself breathe. I no longer have to wake up at 3:45 in the morning to the ear-drum-piercing sound of my iPod. I no longer have to neglect my warm bed in exchange for a frigid twenty-minute walk to the train station. First semester has finally ended, and I am glad that I can oversleep without worrying that I might be late for class. An entire month to sweat over things that have nothing to do with school work – “If these cookies don’t come out the same size after they are done baking, I think I might have a stroke.”

So, to celebrate, I am not opening a cold bottle of ginger ale (although, now that I think about it, might not be a bad idea). Instead, I am giving you a cleaner-looking site and some delicious Walnut Pecan Clusters to munch on. I couldn’t help myself! Well, I could have, but I used the excuse of pregnancy to do all of this for you. Don’t ask.

5289675264 e155db3d3a z Walnut Pecan Clusters

After having my first pecan cluster three months ago, I immediately felt as if I was deprived as a child. How dare my parents keep me away from a chocolate-covered, chewy caramel bites laden with pieces of pecans. How dare they. You hear that mom and dad? How dare you not feed me tons of sugar and chocolate as a child!

5289076115 57efb3495f z Walnut Pecan Clusters

My dear friends, if you were as deprived (in this respect) as a child, fear not- you can have some of my walnut pecan clusters, and then you can make some at home. Deal? These chocolate-dipped, chewy caramel bites are laden with pieces of toasted walnuts and pecans that will leave your eyes rolling back, as you take your first bite.

These are dangerously delicious and only require so much as your love, care, and a candy thermometer. So, get to candy making, and remember- sugar can get very hot, so be careful!

Walnut Pecan Clusters

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2008 (page 226)
Makes About 24 Clusters

I prefer this recipe with Valrhona Manjari chocolate (which works especially well), but a 52- 54% Callebaut chocolate, or ghirardelli chocolate chips also work well. If you prefer to cover the clusters entirely in chocolate, be sure to melt 12 ounces of chocolate, instead of 6 ounces.

If you do not have a non-stick baking mat, no worries, used a piece of parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (be sure not to use the cooking spray with flour).

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

¼ cup water
¾ cups granulated sugar
4 ½ ounces (1 heaping cup) walnut pieces / halves, toasted
4 ½ ounces (1 heaping cup) pecan pieces / halves, toasted
2 ½ ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces (¾ cup) bittersweet chocolate / semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Preparation:
Bring 1 ½ cups sugar, the milk, and the salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir the mixture just until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat (the mixture may look separated).

Bring the water and ¾ cup of sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan** over medium-high heat. Wash the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, undisturbed until the sugar begins to turn light gold, about 5 minutes. Swirl the pan, then cook until caramel turns amber, about two-minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat. Carefully stir in the milk mixture (liquid may bubble up, be careful!), the the walnuts and pecans. Place the pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until the caramel registers between 242ºF (117ºC) and 248ºF on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.

Remove pan from heat, and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Continue stirring until the caramel cools and becomes very thick and some-what difficult to stir, about 10 minutes. Drop small mounds of caramel onto a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat (read head notes), and let cool.

Place melted chocolate in a medium bowl. Using an offset spatula or a spoon, dip the bottom of each cluster into chocolate. Leaving the top partially un-dipped (read head notes). Place the dipped caramel clusters on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Once each of the clusters is dipped in the chocolate, use the remaining chocolate to drizzle over the top of the clusters.

Allow the clusters to stand until the chocolate is set.

Cook’s Notes:
** Please avoid using a pan with a non-stick coating, as it may be damaged by the high heat and the coating could leach into the caramel.
The clusters will keep, covered for up to five days.

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23 COMMENTS

  • El
    December 25th, 2010
    1

    Congratulations on being done- it goes by quickly. The website and the candy look amazing. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • Kim, ORMG
    December 25th, 2010
    2

    Hi Kam!!! It’s so good to hear from you and glad you got through your 1st semester, Congrats!!!! Also on the new look for the site and your wonderful clusters, fortunately for me, my mom had a bigger sweet tooth than me so I grew up on chocolate, can never get enough of it either! HUGS to ya!
    Kim

  • Tweets that mention New post! Walnut Pecan Clusters - -- Topsy.com
    December 25th, 2010
    3

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kamran Siddiqi, Lisa Chan-Simms. Lisa Chan-Simms said: RP's Cooking Update Walnut Pecan Clusters | the sophisticated gourmet http://bit.ly/h1hwsj #cooking #recipes [...]

  • Tokyo Terrace
    December 25th, 2010
    4

    I LOVE pecan clusters! My mom grew up in Tennessee and this seems to be a favorite in the south, so she introduced me early on. Sorry you did not get the same experience, but glad you came up with a great recipe to share. Also, I’m so happy you made it through your first semester of college! Congrats and enjoy the R & R :)

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food
    December 26th, 2010
    5

    Pregnancy would be quite the accomplishment! I’d be very impressed (though more than a little horrified).

    These clusters look delightful!!! And I told you I am loving the new design.

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  • kamran
    December 26th, 2010
    6

    El – Thanks so much! Same to you! :)

    Kim – Thank you! And my mom has quite the sweet tooth, but the lady kept my sister and I away from the stuff because we were a little off the walls. Just a little.

    Rachael- I hope that I can constructively use that time to a) get rid of these dark bags under my eyes and b) write, photograph, and share more recipes on here. Let’s see how it all goes.

    Brian – Hehe! And thank you for the kind comment about the design; I am so glad that I am finally happy with a design that I made for this site.

  • deeba
    December 26th, 2010
    7

    Sweet dreams sleeping beauty…wow…sounds like such a relief! And what better way to celebrate than this. Happy Holidays dear K!

  • Barbara @ Vino Luci Style
    December 26th, 2010
    8

    First, love the treats; it does seem a decidedly southern specialty that I recall from my years in North Carolina…and a decidedly good one too!

    Second. Yeah, sure, right you’re happy with the design. Let’s just say…for now, OK?

    Third; so you went the the pregnancy excuse after all. So excited to see you pull this one off. And get back to school in a month. Not asking too much, right?

    Enjoy your time off. Now you know why college students get a one month break, use it wisely, sleep a lot and yes blog a bit more!

  • kamran
    December 26th, 2010
    9

    Barb- you know me oh too well.

  • Lauren
    December 26th, 2010
    10

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the new design is gorgeous! These clusters though? Oh my. They look so darling, and like the perfect treat.

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    December 26th, 2010
    11

    As always, your site looks stunning and fabulous! You have so much more energy than I do. I can barely deal with one redesign a year. :)

    PS – Those walnut pecan clusters look mighty good. :)

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    December 27th, 2010
    12

    walnuts were the first nuts i fell in love with…i think they are still my favorites too!

  • Aparna
    December 27th, 2010
    13

    What’s not to love about nuts and chocolate? :)
    Seasons greetings and best wishes for a happy new year.

  • Alison Moore Smith
    December 27th, 2010
    14

    Yum. Haven’t I had enough chocolate this week? Um…no.

  • Maria
    December 27th, 2010
    15

    What a sweet and tasty treat! Happy Holidays to you!

  • Sheena
    December 27th, 2010
    16

    Hi Kamran, new reader here! Lovely site you have. I am in love with your photos and your writing; they are fantastic! I made your recipe and it was truly an “eyes roll back” experience. I actually made Martha’s recipe for Pecan Clusters a while back and I always felt that there was something missing. Thanks for sharing such a perfect recipe with us!

    -Sheena

  • christelle is flabbergasting
    December 27th, 2010
    17

    Ouh-ouh! Enjoy the holiday season! And thanks for the recipe: it sounds like a great and easy homemade gift for food lovers! And congrats for the new design of your website! :)

  • Lora @cakeduchess
    December 27th, 2010
    18

    I found you in Twitter and was anxious to see this yummy dessert! Love it and your site is cool! Hope you have a wonderful New Year!!

  • heidi leon
    December 29th, 2010
    19

    these walnut-pecan-clusters sound to me like PELIGRO!!! (to my waist :-D ). I think if I start dieting ahora, I might be able to enjoy these beauties on february ;-b

    …but I loved the recipe and the writing..( “..Cook, undisturbed until…”) and I´m liking so much the new site design.

    Oh and Happy Holidays Kam!. Te deseo lo mejor para el 2011. Besos

  • kamran
    December 29th, 2010
    20

    Lauren, Jen, Christelle- Thank you! You all are too kind.

    Sheena- what a kind note. Thank you! :) And I am so glad that someone tried the recipe! So glad that you liked it! :)

    Heidi- gracias, señora! Once you bite into one of these; they immediately become dangerous. They are absolutely heavenly.

  • Nisrine
    December 30th, 2010
    21

    Kamran, your posts always make me smile. I love to hear the child in you.

    The new blog look is awesome. Totally clean and hip. Totally you :)

  • Ihsana. j
    January 6th, 2011
    22

    HI! Im new around here…
    While reading your post, the aroma of the clusters entered through my computer screen. . . Great post!

  • Jen Yu
    January 10th, 2011
    23

    Dear Kamran, please fish me out of the spam filter… thanks.

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