I apologize for taking so long to get this recipe out. It has been a hectic week for me with work and friends coming into town. I finally had a chance last night to put these together after thinking about them for nearly a week. I have to say I think these came out far better than the cranberry walnut clusters. Not that they were bad, but just that these came out so well.
25 oz (five 5 ounce bars) of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate
1 9oz can of smoked almonds
1 9oz can of roasted/salted almonds
1 16oz of dried apricots
Open both cans of almonds and pour them into the crockpot (I can't stress enough how easy this recipe is). Cut the dried apricots into halves. Add to the crockpot and mix the almonds and apricots together until they are evenly distributed.
Chop up the chocolate into small pieces (about 1/2 or 1/3 or an individual square. This is more work that just pouring a bag of chocolate chips, but I promise it is worth it because chocolate that is meant for eating on it's own is ideal for this recipe. Add the broken up chocolate on top of your other ingredients. Do not mix the ingredients together. You will want to have the chocolate on top so it melts slowly and doesn't burn.
Cook on low for about 1.5-2 hrs. Emphasis on the low here. Cooking on high for the half the time is not a good idea as I mentioned when I made the cran-walnut clusters. Chocolate likes to take it's time to melt, but your patience will pay off with some great tasting candy.
After about 2 hours turn off the crockpot, remove the lid and stir all of the ingredients together with a big spoon or spatula. Spoon the mixture onto a wax paper-lined pan and put in the fridge overnight. You can take it out sooner, but I recommend waiting so the chocolate can fully re-harden.
The next day take out that pan and break apart the block of candy. I put a cutting board on top of the candy and gave it a few good whacks with a hammer, but it will come apart pretty easily so you can even break apart with you hands if that is easier. You could also make it into bars if you prefer that over smaller pieces.
Wrap up: Using an eating chocolate such as Hershey's really made a huge difference for me. It melted down a lot more than semi-sweet chocolate chips I used in previous recipes and also tasted a little better as well. Using flavor almonds (smoked etc) also gives your candy a nice flavor in addition to a great crunch factor. Definitely room to grow in this area. I think you can go pretty much any direction you want when you think about how many kinds of nuts, dried fruits and chocolates there are. You can also use other snack foods such as pretzels and graham crackers instead of nuts.