Chocolate Nut and Berry Clusters

Cleaning up the pantry sometimes yields surprise finds. So take this for instance.. I had a couple of bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Honestly when I did find these , my thought was to fall back into baking a nice banana chocolate bread. But then again, surprise…surprise .. You  really cannot do the banana bread without bananas.. Ahem! Okay so off they went on the counter while I foraged more. The search yielded cashews, almonds, walnuts and then some dried berries. You see where I am going with this right? Aha.. Not really a tough one is it? Out of the finds of the pantry, I give thee .. Absolutely amazing choco berry nut clusters! Ta-Da!

Measured out choco chips
Measured out choco chips

Decadent melt in the mouth, chocolate nut and berry clusters! All you need is a microwave safe bowl and this is ready in  minutes. 3-4 minutes to melt the chocolate and a few to chop the nuts if desired. Takes about an hour or two for the clusters to set at the room temperature. Now that I think about this , I feel this is a throwback to the Cadbury’s dairy milk fruit and nut – a luxurious treat of the yonder years when I grew up in India. And also incidentally the only kind DH would indulge in. I on the other hand love dark chocolates. I would to love to make this in the dark chocolate combination. But that again is the beauty and versatility of this particular nibble. Your mind is the only recipe book you need to refer to..

You really cannot go wrong with this of course!

Nuts and Berries of your choice
Nuts and Berries of your choice

INGREDIENTS

  1. 2 cups of semi sweet white and dark choco chips mixed.
  2. 2 cups of raw almonds, walnuts, cashews and dried cranberries and blueberries. Measure and chop roughly if desired or you can make it with whole nuts too.
  3. A pinch of salt to bring out the chocolate. Sea salt is better of course. 

METHOD

  1. Take a couple of cookie sheets or baking trays and line it with parchment paper or baking sheet.
  2. In a pyrex glass bowl or any microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and melt it in high for 3 minutes in 1 minute intervals. Stir it in after each 1 minute interval. The end result is a creamy smooth mass of melted chocolate.
  3. Add the chopped nuts and dried berries to the melted chocolate and stir it in. Add the pinch of salt and stir it in. Give it one more stir to ensure there is as much even distribution of the nut berry mix with melted chocolate.
  4. Using a tablespoon, measure out scoops of these on the parchment paper lined trays.
  5. Cool these completely before storing them ( about 1-2 hrs. depending on the room temperature). Need it in a rush? Stick these in the freezer or chiller tray of your fridge.
  6. Serve these with decadent mounds of vanilla ice cream or just eat them plain.
  7. Best stored in the refrigerator.
Pick me!
Pick me!

Saffron Kalakkand – Quick and Easy Cheese and Milk Fudge with Saffron and nuts

Fresh, dewy eyed and eyes full of spark a young lady landed on the shores of opportunity in the land of the grand USA some 16 plus years ago. While the young lady has progressed in age , thoughts and wisdom, marked by the appearance of few strands of gray ( honestly, truly, I noticed 5 in total),the spark ala dimmed a bit, but still bright I hope nonetheless.

One of the first people I met, was a happy foodie couple in Boston. At that point, A1 was yet to put in an appearance, and I was happy to meet people ( ignorant of any of the pyramid scheme trap and happily oblivious as well ). While the “come over for tea” turned into recruiting for the scam/scheme and I could not wait to get out faster, I did notice these gorgeous milk burfi’s. I also did sneak in more than one. Hey if I had to sit in and listen to all that yakking on gold and gorgeous things within arm’s reach, might as well do it with some indulgence.

In any case, today on father’s day DH was in a bit of a mood. Happy smiley face, clean counters, dishes done, emptying dishwasher and more. Well no complaints, cause I love this mood. A nice card, a self bought “surprise” on the homey , techy, front and great family time. And I decided to do something that so grandly resembled hours of labor while actually needing a few min of microwave time. The best part was I did not need to hunt for the ingredients. My awesome neighbor/ friend/ b – partner decided to donate to me 3 huge tubs of Ricotta cheese before her trip to India. 2 Thumbs up! I suppose more Ricotta cheese recipes need to be made now!

This has been the perfect day and weekend is done ! But hey summer holidays on and no school tomorrow.. Which means more staying up for the kids.. Love this !

#FDMenu

Saffron Kalakkand – Quick and Easy Cheese and Milk Fudge with Saffron and nuts

Ingredients:

  • Low Fat or Part Skim Ricotta Cheese – 16 oz
  • Non fat Condensed Milk – 14 oz
  • Saffron strands : a pinch
  • Cardamom Pods – 1/2 tsp
  • Pistachios – 6
  • Almonds – 10
  • Ghee or melted butter: 1 tsp to serve as grease

 Method:

 Prep work :

  • In a spice grinder, add in the saffron strands and cardamom seeds and fine grain powder these without adding water.

 Prep work 2:

  • Finely chop the pistachios and almonds in a food processor or spice grinder.

Process:

  • In a microwave safe glass bowl or container, mix the Ricotta Cheese and the Condensed Milk well. I used a wire whisk to break out the lumps and completely homogenized the mix. Took about 5 min or so
  • Cook in the microwave for about 12 minutes uncovered. Keep an eye out for the bubbling mix. Stop and scrape the edges and re-do this process. I did this step in about 5 stage intervals of 3 : 3: 2:2:2 min cooking . I suppose you can go all out and cook in lower intervals, but I just needed to keep a clean microwave oven. No spill mess 🙂
  • Next microwave covered for about 6 min or so. Stop every 2 min , scrape the sides stir and continue.
  • Just before the final 2 min stage add in the cardamom and saffron mix. Cook for a final 2 min. The heat in the cooked milk fudge will release the flavor or the saffron and cardamom and you will see the beautiful color of the saffron permeating the fudge mix.
  • The final stage should resemble soft crumbly mix . Slightly wet and moist mix would be the ideal stage to stop the cooking process.
  • In a square serving container , grease the bottom with ghee or melted unsalted butter. Go easy the grease part. The idea is for easy release of the pieces not to drench it !
  • Pour in the hot fudge mix in the prepped container with grease and add in the crushed nuts mix on the top and pat down to resemble an even surface.
  • Cover and allow to set in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
  • Cut into beautiful squares and serve!
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