Homemade Goo Goo Clusters

Goo Goo Clusters are one of my favorite childhood treats with layers of honey nougat, caramel, and salted peanuts all covered in chocolate!

Have you ever had a Goo Goo Cluster?

OK, I know the name is a bit weird. But, trust me. These things are delicious!

Goo Goo Clusters were created in Nashville, Tennessee. They were the first candy bar with multiple components in them in the US.

The name Goo Goo apparently comes from the fact that they are so good, people begin to ask for them at birth!

I made this nostalgic treat for the Home Bakers Collective August Challenge. Dana (from wakeandbakemama.com) set the challenge this month and it was such a great one! She challenged us to recreate our favorite store-bought childhood treat.

I had to think about this one for a bit. But as soon as I remembered Goo Goo Clusters, I knew that was my answer to this challenge!

My history with Goo Goo Clusters

As kids, my sister, my two brothers and I, weren’t used to having a lot of candy around the house. Halloween was our best chance to stockpile chocolate and other treats.

But once every year or two, our Great-Aunt Nene would come to visit from Nashville. (Again with the strange names – her name was Juanita but we called her NeNe.)

Every time she came to visit, she brought a box of Goo Goo Clusters with her.

We just loved to open up that package, even though we already knew what was in it!

We tried to savor them and make them last. But we also wanted to eat them all on sight to make sure that we got some before they were gone!

What is a Goo Goo Cluster?

This Tennessee confection is made with marshmallow nougat, a layer of caramel, and salted roasted peanuts all covered in chocolate.

The original uses milk chocolate but I went with bittersweet to cut the overwhelming sweetness from all those layers.

The peanuts and the caramel layer were easy – I used the recipe for the toffee layer of my Banoffee Tart and then pressed peanuts into the caramel. It comes together so easily. You don’t have to worry about the typical fears people have of making caramel!

The nougat layer, on the other hand, was a struggle for me.

I have never made nougat before I knew the concept. The steps are similar to making an Italian meringue and I’ve done that a thousand times.

The first recipe I tried seemed off from the start but it was from a reputable source so I thought I could trust it.

The meringue tasted delicious but it never set up the way a nougat should. I wasn’t sure if it was the ingredient proportions, the slightly lower temperature for the syrup or maybe I didn’t beat it long enough.

Either way, it was a fail.

I researched and read and compared recipes. Then I asked a couple of people for recommendations.

Dana remind me the Serious Eats is just solid! Their recipes tend to be backed with solid science and stellar techniques!

Making the Nougat

Making nougat is not hard but you do have to do two things at once and it is highly dependent on getting the temperature correct.

But don’t worry – you can absolutely do this!

Now that I have made this recipe and seen how easy it is to get such an amazing taste and texture, I plan to make this more often! You will definitely see Jeweled Nougat on my Holiday trays this year!

Here are a few process shots –

A couple of tips for making the nougat:

  • You don’t have to use wafer paper to lined the bottom of the pan. I had some and I do feel that it helps throughout the process. Plus it is edible and you will never notice that it is there in the final product.
  • If you don’t use wafer paper, you can use parchment paper or wax paper that has been spray with pan spray.
  • Measure all of your ingredients before beginning the process. This is a good habit to develop with any recipe but is especially helpful in a recipe like this!
  • Make sure that your mixing bowl and whisk are both impeccably clean prior to whisking up the eggs. Wipe them with a paper towel with some lemon juice on it to make sure there is no grease or fat left from the last time you made buttercream or something!
  • Watch the video below to see where to pour the hot syrup and how slowly to add it. If you pour it on the whisk, you could splatter it and burn yourself. Or you may just splatter it on the side of the bowl where it will never mix in to the egg whites, making your meringue not have enough sugar to reach the desired consistency.

Tempering Chocolate

I’ll be honest, I don’t really like to temper chocolate.

Most of the time, I agree with Claire from Bon Appetit and I don’t temper.

You don’t HAVE to temper the chocolate for this recipe but if you choose to just melt the chocolate and coat the candy, you will need to store your Goo Goo Clusters in the refrigerator.

Without tempering, the chocolate will melt on your fingers (not always a bad thing!) but will be just as delicious!

The directions below in the recipe are detailed enough to get you through, even if you are tempering chocolate for the first time.

The temperatures below are used to temper bittersweet or dark chocolate. If you are tempering white or milk chocolate, the temperatures are lower!

Check out my post where I tempered white chocolate as decoration on my Tipsy Laird Opera Cake.

If a video would be helpful to you, let me know in the comments below and I will do a video to show you the exact steps to temper chocolate!

Homemade Goo Goo Clusters

Recipe by Tanya Ott


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the Nougat (adapted from Serious Eats)
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  • 575 grams (3 cups) granulated sugar

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3/4 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/4 cup water

  • For the Caramel Layer
  • 100 mL sweetened condensed milk

  • 65 grams unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces

  • 65 grams granulated sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup or Lyle’s golden syrup

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped

  • For the Chocolate Coating
  • 12 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate – I used Ghiradelli


  • Place the wafer paper in the bottom of a jelly roll pan, and set aside. The paper should not overlap. Pour egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; set aside. Measure out powdered sugar and salt. Set aside until needed.
  • In a medium saucepan, stir the honey, corn syrup, water, and granulated sugar together. Wipe down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to rinse down any sugar granules. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook until it just begins to simmer – about 4 minutes. Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the saucepan; continue to heat, stirring occasionally.
  • When the thermometer registers 310°F, remove the honey mixture from heat. The temperature will rise to 320°F degrees while the mixture sits in the pan off the heat. Stir until temperature drops to 300°F degrees, and quickly make the meringue.
  • Begin to beat the egg whites on medium speed. Once the egg whites are frothy, lower the speed, add the salt and confectioner’s sugar, and then return to medium speed to whisk the meringue to soft peaks. Turn up the mixer speed to high, and, with mixer running, slowly pour the honey mixture into the egg-white mixture (see video above). Beat until mixture thickens (approximately 5 minutes) and begins to stick to beaters. Once the nougat has thickened and is getting trapped inside the whisk, remove the mixer bowl from the stand.
  • Dust your countertop with cornstarch. Pour the mixture onto the cornstarch-covered surface. Gently knead about 7 turns – careful, it is still hot! Dust off excess starch. Stretch and roll to fit the pan; place the mixture in pan. Let cool on a wire rack for a few hours. Cut the desired number and size of rounds with a metal biscuit or cookie cutter. (I used a 1 1/4 inch cutter that fit my tartlet molds)
  • Make the Caramel Layer
  • In a medium saucepan, heat condensed milk, butter, sugar, golden syrup or light corn syrup and salt over med-low heat, stirring constantly so that the bottom doesn’t catch.
  • Heat until the mixture reaches 250° F, stirring constantly, and then immediately remove from the pan to stop the cooking. Stir vigorously to ensure the caramel is smooth. Place a spoonful of the caramel on top of each of the nougat pieces. Sprinkle peanuts on top of the caramel and gently push the peanuts into the caramel. Set aside to cool and firm up which will take 2 to 4 hours at room temperature.
  • Temper the Chocolate and coat the Goo Goo Clusters
  • Finely chop 12 ounces of quality chocolate.
  • Place two-thirds of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Don’t allow the bowl to touch the water. Place a candy thermometer or digital thermometer in the chocolate and stir frequently with a rubber spatula.
  • Heat the bittersweet chocolate to 115°F.
  • Stir in the remaining third of the chocolate a little at a time. Let it melt before adding more, stirring constantly.
  • Let the chocolate cool to 82°F. Keep stirring to cool more quickly.
  • Once the chocolate is 82°F, place it back over the simmering water. Reheat to 88°F to 90°F. (Note that other types of chocolate temper at different temperatures! This is for Bittersweet or Dark Chocolate. Remove the bowl from heat once you have reached the right temperature.
  • Spread a small spoonful of chocolate on a piece of wax paper. If it looks dull or has streaks in it, re-temper the chocolate, starting at step 2. If it dries quickly with a glossy finish and no streaks, the chocolate is in temper.
  • Dip each Goo Goo Cluster in the tempered chocolate, shaking back and forth to remove the excess. A slotted spoon works well for this. Using tongs, lift the chocolate covered Goo Goo Cluster and place on wax paper. Repeat with the rest of the pieces. If the chocolate begins to thicken, place it briefly back over the simmering water. It should stay between 88°F and 90°F while you work.


  • **The amount of nougat in this recipe is about twice the amount that you need for 12 Goo Goo Clusters. You can cut it in half if you measure carefully. I plan to use the leftover nougat to make another candy recipe!


  1. Hannah Bathgate

    Thank you so much for this recipe. My fiance is thrilled with his homemade Christmas gift!

  2. Tanya, I was thinking that this is really pretty similar to what I baked! I mean it does have a much more luscious component with the nuts, but overall, marshmallow and tempered chocolate!!!! Brazilian Babes hit it again!

    • It really is pretty similar! Tempered chocolate and all! I have to tell you, Haley went through the photo for the Collective and guessed who made what. She knew yours right away because they are bright and cheery!

  3. These look so amazing! Now to figure out how to adapt to make maple Goo Good since those are my mom’s favorite!

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