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 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.

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Recipe: Crockpot Candy Peanut Clusters

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 houra 10 min
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.

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Posted by on December 19, 2011
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