Sunday, October 2, 2011

Goo Goo Clusters

I remember one of the first vacations I went on with my parents that my two older brothers did not come along with us.  They were teenagers with summer jobs and add to that the drag of going on vacation with your parents and little sister and you can understand why they chose the option to stay home.  I think they might have stayed with our grandparents or something that week.  Those details, I do not recall.

On that vacation, my parents and I drove down to Tennessee, camper in-tow, and we visited the beautiful city of Nashville.  We toured Music Row and the Grand Ole Opry and had a great time at Opryland.  There were some historical side trips here and there as well. 

And that was when we discovered Goo Goo Clusters!**  We had never heard of or seen them before, but we quickly realized we had been missing something.  These chocolatey, marshmallowy, peanutty (spell-check is going berserk over these adjectives I'm using!) globs of heaven were irresistible!  So on a final visit to a Cracker Barrel restaurant, (which were only located in the South back then) we picked up a box of Goo Goo Clusters to bring home to each of my brothers. 

There's a blog I follow called Confessions of a Cookbook Queen that featured homemade Goo Goo Clusters a while back.  I tagged that page and just knew I had to make some, and soon!  So here's my rendition of the homemade Goo Goo Cluster.  These would be great to make around the holidays and package up in a fun way for a neighbor, teacher or friend.

Goo Goo Clusters
Here's What You Need:
3 dozen flat marshmallows (the Kraft brand calls them "Stackers")
11 oz bag caramel bits...these melt way faster than the square-shaped wrapped caramels
2 TBS heavy cream
2 1/2 cups lightly salted, roasted peanuts
32 oz chocolate almond bark/candy coating

Line a large cookie sheet with waxed paper and lay the marshmallows out in rows on the cookie sheet.  Microwave the caramel bits with the heavy cream for about 2 minutes on high, stirring every 20 seconds or so.  Make sure it's all mixed together and completely melted.

Work quickly to spoon a small amount of caramel onto the top of the marshmallows and then press in several peanuts.  Make sure they are stuck on there really good.  I did about 5 at a time.  Otherwise, the caramel will begin to set up and the peanuts won't get stuck down in there.

After you have them all dolled up with the caramel and peanuts, let them sit out for about 30 minutes.  This way, your caramel won't drip all over the place.

Melt the chocolate according to the package directions.  You can either dip them in the chocolate with small tongs or a fork like the Cookbook Queen did, or you can spoon a glob of chocolate on top and coax the chocolate to ooze down and around the sides.  I used less chocolate this way, however, then the bottoms were not coated with chocolate, making my Goo Goo Clusters less like the real thing.  I'm okay with that if you are.  Enjoy!

**Note - If you visit the hyperlink I provide at the top for the Goo Goo Clusters, you will find that on their home page, they offer a free iPhone app so you can locate the nearest Goo Goo Cluster retailer.  Good to know they have you covered in case of an "emergency!"

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