White Trash Holiday Cluster F*cks
This chocolate, slightly spicy party mix is delicious.
(Credit: Kevin Schlanser)

Anyone who has done any kind baking (or helped a friend or family member in the kitchen) around the holidays knows that it can be a daunting task; it takes precise measurements, complicated procedures and numerous steps before the tasty treats can be enjoyed. Well, fear not, my friends – this recipe couldn’t be simpler, and it goes amazingly well with a beer!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5-7 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Yield: 10-12 servings

20 ounces White Chocolate Chips*
4 cups Party Mix**
1 tablespoon Orange Zest (from one medium-sized Orange)
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (optional)

*Milk or Dark Chocolate can be substituted, but then you can’t call it "White Trash"!
**Chex Mix, Chopped Nuts, Crackers and Crunchy Breakfast Cereals can be substituted and/or combined with the Party Mix.

Create a double boiler with a large pot and a heatproof glass bowl that fits comfortably on top of the pot. Fill the pot with just enough water so that it doesn’t touch the bowl. Bring it to a simmering boil, using only the steam from the water to heat the bowl. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Chocolate, Cayenne Pepper (optional: see chef’s note below) and Orange Zest (most box cheese graters have a zest panel).

Pour the chocolate mixture into your double boiler bowl (you can also microwave this, being sure to stop and frequently sir the mixture so it melts evenly), and gently stir as it begins to melt. Meanwhile, pour your Party Mix into a large zip lock bag, and gently crush it to break up the big pieces.

When the chocolate has melted, using hot pads, carefully place the bowl onto a heatproof surface (such as another hot pad). Then add the Party Mix, in thirds, stirring to combine as you go. Don’t worry about breaking up the Party Mix; it’ll make for better results.

Once it's thoroughly combined, pour the whole kit-n-caboodle onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and form it into a single rectangular layer. Allow it to cool for about two hours so the chocolate can set, then break it into bite-sized clusters.

If you’re feeling especially white trash, put four or five clusters into a zip lock bag, duct tape it to a cheap beer can, and give it as a gift!

Chef’s Note: Be sure not to add more than a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, or else you’ll be on fire! This adds just the right amount of “kick” to the recipe without being overpowering. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to omit the cayenne pepper if you’re making it for kids or for those who are spice wimps.

Sean Michael Beyer is Campus Circle’s art director and the host of an online comedy cooking show, “The Guerrilla Culinarian.” Visit http://theguerrillaculinarian.blogspot.com
for more information.