Created in 1912 by Howell Campbell and the Standard Candy Company in Nashville, Tennessee, Goo Goo Cluster candy is a treat for all ages. A delicious combination of marshmallow nougat, chewy caramel, peanuts, and real milk chocolate, Goo Goo Clusters were originally sold in large glass jars in stores near the factory. Now you can find Goo Goo clusters all over the country (and world) in old-time candy stores and even in coffee drinksat Cracker Barrel Country Stores.
There's a few different types of candy and we love them all. The original Goo Goo Cluster has caramel, marshmallow, peanuts, and milk chocolate. Love pecans? Try out the GooGoo Supreme which substitutes pecans in place of peanuts. And peanut butter lovers will lick their lips over the Peanut Butter Goo Goo which switches out the marshmallow for peanut butter. There's even a confection that uses rich dark chocolate as the coating.
Wondered why it's called a Goo Goo Cluster? According to stories, Howell Campbell, Jr. named the candy after a baby's first words, making it a candy "so good, people will ask for it from birth." Others theorize the Goo stands for the "Grand Ole Opry". Whatever it stands for, people go gaga over this nutty retro dessert bar.
Goo Goo Cluster
While the Goo Goo store in downtown Nashville actually hosts classes to teach you how to make the candy, (even how to pair the candy with wine) today we wanted to share with you our recipe of this famous combination candy bar.
How to Make Goo Goo Cluster Candies
The base of this southern tradition is the caramel. While the original make their own marshmallow caramel (which is to die for) we are going to take a bit of a short cut and use pre-made caramel and shape it. When buying your caramel look for a soft variety that is easy to shape. We use about three caramel candies shaped into a roundish mound as the base.
Sprinkle on some mini marshmallows and preheat your oven to a low broil. We want to broil the candies just enough to soften the marshmallows but not to toast them or melt the caramel. So keep a close eye on the oven.
Once the marshmallows are soft, sprinkle on the roasted peanuts and press with your hands to adhere to the sticky marshmallows. Once added, take the entire pan and place it in the freezer to chill. You don't need the candy to freeze but rather set the marshmallow and caramel.
Meanwhile, melt chocolate wafers according to their package directions. We prefer to use chocolate melting wafers instead of chocolate chips because they are already tempered with, giving chocolate that crispness. If you were to use normal chocolate without tempering the chocolate would never fully set at room temperature.
Remove the candies from the freezer and place it on a wire baking rack with parchment paper underneath. Spoon the chocolate over the mounds (pouring the leftover chocolate back into the bowl) and place back into the freezer to set.
When set, flip the chocolate over and spoon the melted chocolate over the bottom of the candies. Place the chocolates back in the freezers and chill until set.
When ready, remove the Goo Goo Clusters from the freezer and let them come to room temperature before serving. (I know it's hard to wait but frozen caramel and teeth don't mix).
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Preheat your broiler to low. Unwrap all of the caramels. Using your hands, shape three caramels into a round shape and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Make them a bit cup shaped to hold the marshmallows.
Top the caramels with 5-6 mini marshmallows and place under the broiler until soft but not toasted. Press peanuts onto the marshmallows and push on to adhere. Place the entire pan into the freezer until fully set.
Meanwhile melt the chocolate coating according to package directions.
Remove Goo Goo clusters from the freezer and using a spoon, drip chocolate on the tops of the candy. Return to freezer and chill until set.
Flip the candies over and cover the bottom of the candy with chocolate. Place in the freezer to set. Remove and let candy come to room temperature. Serve.
We like using chocolate melting wafers for this recipe because it ensure the chocolate will be set outside of the refrigerator.
You can also make mini Goo Goo Clusters by using one caramel, three mini marshmallows and a few peanuts.