Monday, December 19, 2011

Crockpot Candy Peanut Clusters

Crockpot Chocolate Peanut Clusters are a favorite holiday candy made from a mixture of almond bark, baking chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanuts.

Crockpot Candy

Crockpot Candy Clusters are a popular confection at Christmastime everywhere, and usually includes pretty much the same combination of ingredients - some kind of mixture of chocolate, along with almond bark and peanuts.  I wanted to use a combination of honey roasted peanuts along with regular dry roasted peanuts this time, so I decided to pair up the almond bark coating, with a bittersweet baking chocolate, instead of the German chocolate that is often typically used. I happened to have some Scharffen Berger bittersweet dark chocolate in the freezer which worked marvelously, though good ole Baker's bittersweet will also work just fine.

You do not need to make this candy in a slow cooker of course, though the advantage of using one is that the chocolate melts nice and evenly, and you can work right out of the slow cooker, keeping the chocolate nice and pliable until you finish that last dollop. You can certainly use a microwave or double boiler to melt the chocolate also.

One word of caution. While this popular crockpot candy recipe has been around for many years, it was originally written at a time when the old slow cookers cooked at a much lower temperature than they do today. Unless you're still using one of the older ones, don't think you can dump everything in and then just leave it unattended for 3 hours on low. While all slow cookers vary and you might get away with it, there is also a strong risk that you will end up with nuts and chocolate that tastes, and are, burned with the newer cookers. Even though I do still use my 70-something Crockpot slow cooker for this recipe, I still stir it out of an abundance of caution.


Add everything to the crockpot in the order given, cover and let it go on low for about 15 to 20 minutes until the chocolate just begins to soften, then give it stir. Make sure that you work the peanuts up from the bottom. It takes my cooker about 1-1/2 hours total on low to get everything all nice and melty. Just keep an eye on your slow cooker and if it appears to be cooking very hot, you may even need to use a warming setting, rather than a low setting, and just let it go longer.

If you want to get a bit more creative than just peanut clusters, this is a wonderfully versatile recipe. You can include a multitude of add-ins, from additional nuts, to crunchy cereals, to dried fruit. I love the combination of the two peanuts together along with the bittersweet chocolate for these - I think you will too. Here's how to make them.

Recipe: Crockpot Candy Peanut Clusters

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: About 60 pieces

Ingredients
  • 2 cups honey roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 (1 pound 8 ounce) package of chocolate flavored almond bark
  • 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions

Add everything to a 3-1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker in the order listed, except the vanilla. Cover and let cook on low (see note) for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until chocolate has melted. To avoid burning the nuts and/or the chocolate, stir first after about 15-20 minutes, and then several times after, about every 20 to 30 minutes. When chocolate has fully melted, stir in the vanilla extract until well blended in and drop candy by heaping tablespoons on parchment, wax paper, or into mini foil cups, allowing to rest for a full 2 hours until firm. Makes about 60 depending on the size you drop.

~Cook's Notes~

Important: New slow cookers cook much hotter than older models, even on low. If you are using a new model, you may want to try cooking this on warm and for a longer time to avoid burning.

I use a small cookie scoop to drop my candy. For easier clean-up, rinse and wash out your slow cooker immediately. For this recipe, I used Planter's peanuts, Plymouth's Pantry brand almond bark, Scharffen Berger bittersweet dark chocolate (Baker's bittersweet is good also), Nestle Toll House semi-sweet morsels and Crisco shortening.

Optional add-ins: Can also add in 1 to 2 cups of any crunchy dry cereal - Cheerios, Chex, Wheaties, Kix, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, or choose your favorite cereal, or other embellishments such as raisins, chopped dried fruit, dried berries or cranberries, flaked coconut, crushed candy canes, Heath bits, or any combination. You can also substitute or use a combination of nuts - chopped pecans, chopped cashews, chopped macadamia nuts, toasted chopped or sliced almonds are all good.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Check These Recipes Out Too!

Old Fashioned Ting-a-Lings
Old Fashioned Cornflake Candy
Southern Pralines

Posted by on December 19, 2011
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22 comments:

  1. Hello, first of all I love the website and I use reciepes from here often. I love peanuts and chocolate together and I would love to make these, but I am allergic to almonds and I was wondering if there is something that I can sub. for the almond bark. Thank you for all that you do, God Bless and Merry Christmas
    Jeanna from KY

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Jeanna! You sure can!! You'll need to make up the difference with extra bags of chocolate chips when you omit the almond bark. I would say 3 bags and mix them up - semi-sweet, milk chocolate & a dark will probably do it. You'll still want the shortening. Let me know if you give it a spin!!

    Yes they are Eva!! (and easy)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this and absolutely love using my crock pot for anything possible. My question is on the Planters Peanuts...salted or unsalted?
    Thanks for all the great recipe's....Kim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kim! You could use either but I use the regular salted ones.

      Delete
  4. I know this post is an older one but I'm looking at making crock pot candy for Xmas presents. I am wondering if pecans or some other kind of nut (or possibly rice crispies?) can be used as my niece has a virulent allergy to peanuts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! You can certainly substitute other nuts - cashews & pecans are both good - just a little more costly than peanuts.

      Be sure to check out the links right under the recipe where it says "Check These Recipes Out Too!"

      Old Fashioned Ting-a-Lings
      Old Fashioned Cornflake Candy

      They aren't crockpot candy like this one with the nuts traditionally is but they might be a couple you'd like to do! Hope that helps!

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much, Mary. This definitely does help. The poor girl gets skipped out of so many candies because of the possibility of coming into contact with peanuts.

      Delete
  5. Just ate another one!
    I made these almost a week ago, sent home two containers with my daughter and kept two for myself. I swear this is by far the easiest candy I have ever made! Definitely a keeper!!
    Glad I found you and this recipe!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know and so GOOD too!! I'm so glad you found us too Kristin - Happy New Year!

      Delete
  6. This sounds great, but I have a 'phobia' about vegetable shortening (crazy, considering I'll eat recipes with two sticks of butter - or more - ...but the white pure lard stuff scares me! :). Is there a way to make it without it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use it because I think it makes the mixture more smooth, but yes, it can be left out completely!

      Delete
  7. I am definitely going to try this crock-pot method. So much easier than the old fashioned way. Will add some Rice Crispies too.
    Love your recipes. Thanks Mary :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much!! I think you will like this method - the key is making sure it doesn't burn since newer crockpots seem to cook much hotter than the older ones. I still use that one pictured from the 70s when I make this!

      Delete
  8. Is there a way to make it without a crock pot?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There sure is! The crockpot is handy because it keeps the chocolate warm and more fluid and easier to work with and drop but you can certainly do it on the stovetop. You'll want to use a double boiler, or put a glass of steel bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water and melt the chocolate that way. Doing it right in a saucepan is possible, but there is more of a chance of burning the chocolate.

      Delete
  9. I have some unsweetened chocolate, can I use that in place of bittersweet chocolate? If so do I need to add sugar or powdered sugar?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lynne! I haven't made a substitute with unsweetened chocolate with this recipe, so I'm not really sure how to handle that. The combination here gives a pretty good balance so I've not messed with it! That said, generally speaking I think that bittersweet and semisweet would be pretty interchangeable so you could probably get away with just using more of the semisweet instead, but I just really don't know about the unsweetened.

      Delete
  10. I am going to make this today! I am sooo happy that I kept my late 1970's era Crockpot (was a wedding present back then!). Can't wait to make these!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just wanting to know could I add carmel to the mixture ?

    ReplyDelete

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