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Almond cranberry clusters

The holiday season is here, and UH News is asking members of the University of Hawaiʻi ʻohana to share their favorite recipes. The hope is these recipes and the short stories that accompany them will give everyone some recipe ideas for the holidays.

Tiffanie Masutani headshot
Chef Tiffanie Masutani is passionate about encouraging kids to cook and bake.

Kapiʻolani Community College Culinary faculty and Patisserie Chef Tiffanie Masutani shared a recipe for the holidays inspired by the almond chocolate clusters she learned to make as a former Kapiʻolani CC pastry student in Chef Ernst Hiltbrand‘s class. The version presented here is inspired by Chef Ewald Notter.

“I like this recipe because it’s easy to make, and you can customize it to your liking by adding your own flavors to it,” Masutani said. “It’s a great recipe for kids, but our culinary students also learn a version of this as well. Feel free to substitute the dried cranberries with your own favorite dried fruit or change up the chocolate to milk or dark chocolate.”

The recipe is also a sneak peek at the Kapiʻolani CC Culinary Kid’s Baking class happening on December 10, 2022.


See more UH-mazing holiday recipes

Yield: Approximately 24 clusters

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Combine water and sugar together in a pot.
  2. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, shut off the heat and cool for later.

Cluster Ingredients:

  • Simple Syrup (from above recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries*
  • 1/4 cup crushed wafer flakes
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup good quality white chocolate
  • *In place of dried cranberries, you can use your favorite dried fruit, but cut it into small pieces or strips


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, add all the almonds. Pour enough simple syrup to coat the almonds and gently toss. You want enough syrup to coat but not so much syrup that it’s pooling at the bottom of the bowl. If you have excess syrup, pour it out.
  3. Sift powdered sugar on top enough to coat all the almonds evenly and toss gently.
  4. Spread the powdered sugar-covered almonds on a cookie sheet or pan and toast in the oven for approximately 10–12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool.
  5. In a bowl, combine the toasted almonds, dried cranberries and crushed wafer flakes and mix all ingredients together.
  6. Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl/container, using 15-second bursts and stirring in between.
  7. Once the chocolate is melted, pour into the almond/cranberry/wafer mixture and mix until all dry ingredients are lightly coated in chocolate.
  8. Using 2 spoons, scoop out portions about 1 1/2 inches in diameter into mini muffin cups/dessert cups.
  9. Let cool and enjoy!

Optional: Drizzle dark chocolate on top or sift additional powdered sugar on top of clusters or top with sprinkles for added fun!

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