Intro: Chocolate Dipped Fruit and Clusters
So easy it feels sinful but it makes a great presentation, and the combinations are almost endless. When I go to a meal at someones home or to a pot luck, if I suggest bringing this as my contribution, I am never turned down.
Step 1: What to Dip?
- For fresh fruit I have dipped strawberries, grapes, clementine sections, and pineapple all with good outcomes.
- For dried fruit I have dipped apricots, pineapple, papaya, peaches, pears, and candied ginger
- For clusters I have mixed mini marshmallows with mashed up peppermint or cinnamon pieces, and toffee would work too.
- For more Adult tastes I have mixed chopped apricots, raisins, cranberries, or currents with almonds, pecans, walnuts, or macadamias.
- Fresh fruit will wilt relatively quickly so I dip these as close to the time of serving as possible, preferably the same day, though I have occasionally done them the night before.
- Also choose the most perfect fruit you can, as the sweetness and full flavor of good fruit compliments the chocolate so nicely
- Choose good chocolate. I always use dark with the highest cocoa content I can, again because the flavor I think is best, and once you have made this presentation, you want the flavor to live up to the expectations.
Step 2: Dipping Fresh Fruit
Step 3: Doing the Dipping
Leaving the greens on the strawberries, use those to hold onto the fruit when you dip it.
I cover the fruit about 2/3's of the way up, and then let the excess chocolate drip off before placing the fruit on a cookie sheet to harden.
Step 4: A Place to Set a While
I use a cookie sheet that is narrow enough to get into the refrigerator
I will either lay wax paper over the sheet or use plastic wrap as I did here to cover the sheet.
The chocolate comes away from these covers well once hardened and the wraps can be reused to pack the chocolates once made.
Step 5: The Friut After Dipping
If not too much excess chocolate is allowed to stay on the fruit, the process will move along pretty quickly with minimal mess to clean up.
Step 6: Dried Fruit for Dipping or Clusters
Apricots can be be dipped individually or they can be chopped and mixed with nuts for clusters
Step 7: Dipping the Dried Fruit
When dipping the dried fruit individually, if using your fingers, dip about half way up.
If the fruit is handled with small tongs, they can be dipped further into the chocolate but with fingers that gets messy.
Step 8: Setting the Dipped Apricots
Just as with the fresh fruit, the apricots are allowed to drip back into the chocolate to remove the excess and then set out on the covered cookie sheet
Step 9: Apricot and Pistachio Clusters
Here I mixed the chopped apricots with pistachios
I then added just enough chocolate to coat the nuts and fruit binding them together
Step 10: Making the Clusters
I use a teaspoon to dole out the coated mix onto the cookie sheet.
Step 11: Letting the Chocolate Set
Once the cookie sheet is filled or once I have dipped all the fruit/nuts I want, The sheet goes into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to set after which these treats will easily separate from the plastic wrap or wax paper.
Step 12: Mint and Mallow Clusters
- This can get messy if not carefully contained.
- Putting the candies in a sturdy plastic bag, I use a meat mallet to break them up
- I then mix shards with the mini marshmallows and add just enough chocolate to coat the candy
Step 13: Spooned Onto the Cookie Sheet
I spoon the candy out onto the wrapped cookie sheet
To distinguish these from the less kid friendly clusters I will add sprinkles to the tops
Nut & fruit clusters can similarly be sprinkled with nut dust to distinguish them as well
The red shards are ground up red hots which can be used both in the marshmallow and cinnamon clusters, and as a sprinkle on top
Caution: red hots will get sticky in a humid environment
Finally, once the fruits have been dipped, the clusters made, and all the chocolate set, they can be arranged however you like.
Here I used an egg plate as it allowed me to set up the strawberries nicely.
All but the fresh fruit can be made ahead and stored in bags or containers but should be kept cool (I leave them in the refrigerator) so the chocolate does not run and get messy.