A cashew cluster is a popular type of confectionery treat. Groups of several cashew nuts are covered with a warm, syrupy sweet coating that eventually hardens when exposed to cool air. The coating on the cashews may be chocolate, or another sweet coating, such as butterscotch. White chocolate, dark chocolate, or sugar free chocolate are other variations of the chocolate covered cashew cluster. Other ingredients, such as coconut or sesame seeds, are often added to the cashew cluster for variety.
A popular snack item, cashew nuts are fairly rich in protein. The presence of protein in the nut gives the cashew cluster a little bit of nutritional value as a candy, dessert, or snack item. Depending on the size, the amount of nuts in it, and the amount of coating, a cashew cluster may have around 4 grams of protein.
Chocolate is usually the coating of choice for the cashew cluster. Nuts and chocolate are a traditional tasty combination because the sweetness of the chocolate complements the nutty flavor well. Other ingredients are often added to the cashew cluster, such as sunflower seeds or raisins. Many manufacturers of chocolate candy will make cashew clusters, in addition to clusters of other nuts such as almonds or peanuts, and package them in boxes or bags for consumers to purchase. Although cashews are popular, the almond clusters and peanut clusters are usually better sellers because they are less expensive nuts.
Some home cooks will make the traditional cashew clusters of chocolate and cashews, while others may add something like sunflower seeds or raisins in an attempt to boost the nutrition value or just to add variety to the candy. The coating is generally made from butter, chocolate, or butterscotch and white or brown sugar. The cashew cluster is formed either by dropping a spoonful of the warm candy onto a tray and allowing it to harden, or by smearing it on a tray with a spatula, then breaking or cutting it into clusters after it hardens.
Cooking with cashews is popular, particularly in Asian cuisine. The home cook may add some flour to the recipe, and bake cashew cookies as a special treat. Cashew clusters that are covered in chocolate should be stored in a cool, dry place to avoid melting. In very hot climates, it would be wise to store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.