The slow cooker is a mainstay of modern American cooking — but it's not just you and me firing up the Crock-Pot on a weeknight. Famous chefs and celebrities are not above its charms, and this week we're bringing you five recipes from five kitchen stars that show off their favorite ways to put the slow cooker to good use.
For the average home cook (like me), homemade candy seems like an intimidating, labor-intensive thing to pull off. You need a special thermometer, the temperature has to be just right, it's all too easy to mess up, and the whole process seems finicky at best, vaguely dangerous at worst.
But that's one of the very best, time-honored uses of the slow cooker: quietly tricking family members and dinner guests into thinking you've singlehandedly labored over difficult recipes for hours when, in reality, all it usually takes is assembling a few ingredients in the crock, turning it on, and walking away.
That's what makes this recipe from country music star and celebrated cook Trisha Yearwood such a winner. Well, that, and the fact that it results in delicious, made-from-scratch candy, of course.
The recipe is as simple as layering, melting, stirring and cooling: salty peanuts, sweet German chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips, and white almond bark are layered into the base of the slow cooker, where they melt into gooey, chocolate-y goodness for three hours. The "candy" part comes later, when the mixture is dropped into cupcake liners and allowed to cool until they harden into delicious bite-sized treats. Aside from stirring to distribute the ingredients after melting, you barely have to lift a finger. And the best part? No fussing with a special thermometer required.
Yearwood, who got the recipe from a cousin, loves the recipe's convenience and ease (so simple you can invite kids in on the fun). And so do I, especially when the end product is so attractive and gift-worthy. Not to mention the perks of the heavenly smell of chocolate-peanut candy wafting through your house. And, dropped into individual cupcake liners, the single-serving portions make for great (and impressive) treats to share with others.
Crock-Pot Chocolate Candy
2 pounds salted dry-roasted peanuts
4 ounces German's sweet chocolate
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
2 1/2 pounds white almond bark, broken into squares
Put the peanuts in the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Layer the chocolate over the peanuts, beginning with the sweet chocolate, followed by the chocolate chips, and then the almond bark. Cover and cook on the LOW setting for 3 hours. Do not stir the mixture.
Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth. Drop the candy into paper cupcake liners, using about 2 tablespoons per liner. Let the candy to cool completely before removing the cupcake liners.
This is a fun recipe to make with your children. They can put everything in the slow cooker, and drop the candy into the cupcake liners, too.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.