Trail Mix Chocolate Clusters – These easy-to-make treats are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard. Mix and match toppings to create new flavors!
Sometimes, a person just needs a treat.
And, sometimes, the simplest treats are the best.
These trail mix chocolate clusters are like that. They’re easy as can be, and are the perfect small something when you’re craving a sweet treat. Trail mix is a longtime obsession at our house (my kids love being in charge of what they eat!), and with all the different fruit and nut combinations, it always feels like we’re coming up with something new.
1. Dark Chocolate. It was basically the best day of my life when the health community started saying that the flavonoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate were beneficial. Dark and semisweet chocolate tends to be slightly lower in sugar than milk chocolate and, (because of the higher percentage of cacao) the concentration of antioxidants is also higher. In short: the darker the better! You can use a chocolate bar (Sprouts has TONS of options) or chocolate chips for this recipe. Look for semisweet or dark–Sprouts even carries allergy-free and stevia-sweetened varieties!
2. Nuts. Nuts provide healthy fats, add some protein to the mix, and contain a dose of vitamins (like Vitamin E). Choosing especially heart-healthy nuts, like almonds and walnuts will give you the most benefit. I love experimenting with different nut combinations in trail mix and try to go at least 50-50 with nuts and dried fruit.
3. Dried Fruit. Dried fruits are more concentrated in sugar than their fresh or frozen counterparts, so we are using them as a sweetness boost here. I usually try to look for dried fruits without added sugar, though sometimes it’s fun to try different varieties like dried pineapple, mango, banana chips, and more. Unsweetened faves are things like raisins (look for the rainbow ones–a mix made from different colored grapes!), unsweetened coconut, and even things like dried peaches and pears!
Sprouts’ bulk bins are a great place to mix and match since you can buy exactly the amount you want or need. I love that I don’t end up wasting anything, and I can save money at the same time. They run weekly sales, so it’s always a good idea to check out the sale flyers before you head in. Pick up a few different types of dried fruits and nuts and you’re ready to roll!
Notes on the Recipe:
Bloom. After a few days, you may notice that your chocolate gets little lighter colored streaks across it. This is called “blooming.” It’s nothing to worry about, and can sometimes happen when chocolate has been melted and either the fat (cocoa butter) or sugar in the chocolate are disrupted during the melting process. You can minimize bloom by storing your chocolates in the refrigerator or freezer.
Flavor combinations. There are endless combinations you can come up with. Here are a few ideas to get you started (though, really, check out those bulk bins for even more ideas).
Pineapple + Coconut + Macadamia Nut
Dried cherries + Almonds
Mixed Raisins + Peanuts
Dried Apricots + Pistachios
Dried Mango + Unsweetened coconut
Cranberries + Pecans
Mixed Dried Berries + Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
How long will these keep? At room temperature, they’re best finished within a week. If you store them in your refrigerator or freezer, they’ll last several weeks without a problem. Feel free to make a double batch and then tuck one into a packed lunch or pull one out for a little treat when the mood strikes.
Don’t skip the liner! Don’t skip the parchment paper or silicone baking mat step since it will keep your chocolate clusters from sticking to the pan. I’m usually a parchment girl, but the silicone mat turned out to be my preferred method here.