Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cockroach Clusters: a Spooky Halloween Treat

I seem to be writing a lot about sweets these days, so I suppose it is fitting that I finish out the run with a Halloween post.

I would like to be the kind of blogger who is always anticipating holidays and events and has clever posts featuring interesting and unusual theme-related recipes. Alas, that's not how I roll. I always come up with the clever idea the day of the event, or even during the week after it. Some day that might change, but for now I consider myself lucky those times that I rise to the occasion, so to speak.

We just started up our end-of-the month company lunches this week after a summer (and fall due to circumstances beyond our control) hiatus, and since it was so close to Halloween I decided to make something appropriate for Halloween for dessert. It didn't take me long to remember these cockroach clusters. In truth, I believe they are actually more related to Harry Potter than to Halloween, but they seem tailor made for a spooky treat.

These are a snap to make, so if you need a last-minute treat for that last-minute party, they are a no-brainer. All you need are chocolate chips, pretzels, raisins, and decorative sugar or sprinkles.

The recipe calls for skinny pretzel sticks. I was shopping at Whole Foods, though, so I had to settle for the only pretzel sticks they carry, which were organic, and quite a bit thicker than I expected. They worked, but they don't look as spooky as they should. Instead of a cup of raisins, I used half a cup each of raisins and cranberries to add a little tartness.

For the chocolate chips, I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet chips, so these aren't too sweet. The flash has made them much lighter in the picture than they are in real life. For such a child-like recipe, they are awfully sophisticated. I didn't have chocolate sprinkles and I didn't want to buy them, so I used some orange and black colored decorative sugar I had bought years ago instead, and I thought it worked just fine.

If you need something quick to get you in the spirit, you can't go wrong with these.
COCKROACH CLUSTERS

11.5-oz bag Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips
2 cups thin pretzel sticks
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
orange and black decorative sugar, or chocolate sprinkles

Put chips in a large microwave-safe bowl and cook at 10-second intervals until the chocolate is almost, but not totally, melted. Remove from the microwave and stir until the residual heat has melted all of the chocolate.

Add the pretzels, raisins and cranberries and stir together until well mixed.

Drop by tablespoons onto waxed paper, then top with the decorative sugar or the sprinkles. Let set.

Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 30-35 clusters.

This recipe is all over the web, and as far as I can see there is no attribute.

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