Dessert, Snack, Gluten Free, Winter

CHOCOLATE & PUFFED GRAIN MORSELS

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I appreciate that there is a day to honor your love, but I am cynical as to what Valentines is as an adult. It seemed so fun to exchange candies in grade school and overdose on conversation hearts. In my younger years, my Dad would come home from work with those GIANT greeting cards (do you know what I'm talking about? They are seriously gigantic and sometimes I still see them at gas stations) and mylar balloons for my sister and I, or maybe a new set of cotton pajamas with hearts on them. My mom, the art teacher, made, and still makes, beautiful hand crafted cards with thoughtful messages of how we, as daughters, have changed her life. It feels pretty great to be loved. What I gathered from those gestures, was that this holiday isn't about the bloated flower prices, waxy chocolates and pre-set dining menus that make me cringe, it is best celebrated not for one person, but valuing love for the sum of it's parts.

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This chocolate morsel experiment was kind of a shot in the dark, but I think they are just precious in their crafty glass jars. I cleaned old jars I have held on to from sauces, jams, fancy yogurts and what not. These morsels travel better and last longer than a baked good, which would also make them an excellent wedding favor or thank you gift. I am giving my measurements, but this recipe is extremely adaptable. You could use any kind of puffed cereal (they are inexpensive at a health food store) and the nuts and fruit are yours to choose. Next time I'll try toasted pistachios and dried cherries, or maybe chewy candied ginger and sliced almonds. Whatever your way, show love.

CHOCOLATE AND PUFFED GRAIN MORSELS // Makes 24

When melting the chocolate, I suggest using a larger glass bowl than you think you'll need. This way you can put all the goodies in that one bowl to make less of a mess.

12 oz. Dark Chocolate Chips (milk if you prefer)

1 1/3 Cup Puffed Millet, Rice, Kamut (found in the cereal isle)

1 Cup Dried Cranberries, Chopped

1/2 Cup Toasted Pecan Pieces

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Sea Salt

1. Place chocolate it in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Allow it to melt slowly, giving it a stir to distribute the heat. In the meantime, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

2. Remove the chocolate from the heat and gently add in the puffed grain of choice, dried fruit and nut and fold everything to combine. Allow everything to sit for about five minutes to cool.

3. Using a spoon and your fingers, dollop hefty tablespoons of the chocolate mix onto the baking sheet. Repeat, washing your fingers every now and then because it will be easier to work with the chocolate. This step gets messy, but as they cool you can form their shape better. Sprinkle them liberally with sea salt.

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4. Put the tray in the fridge for about 15 minutes for the morsels to set completely. Put them in cute packaging for a charming presentation!