(both recipes courtesy Trisha Yearwood from Trisha’s Southern Kitchen)
Crock-pot Chocolate Candy
2 lbs roasted salted peanuts
2 bars sweet dark chocolate*
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 lbs almond bark**
1. Layer all ingredients in your crock-pot, starting with peanuts, then dark chocolate bars, then chocolate chips, then almond bark. Do NOT stir together.
2. Put on crock-pot lid.
3. Cook on LOW for 3 hours.***
4. After it has cooked for 3 hours, sir together with large spoon until fully incorporated.
Line cupcake tins with cupcake foils. Then spoon in enough chocolate mix to fill foils halfway. Allow to cool. If everything went well, these will smell amazing. It will be hard to leave them alone. Resist the temptation; get out of the house and go shopping or take a walk. Just don’t touch those cups until they are completely cooled! It will take a while. Mine were fairly thick (about 1 1/2 thickness of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup), and took another two or so hours to fully cool and harden. If you’re like me and live in a place with ridiculous levels of humidity, even in December, then it will take longer.
*On the Food Network website, it says to use less–like 4 squares of Baker’s dark chocolate. My candies came out pretty darn thick, so maybe in the future I’ll try this instead.
**This is vanilla candy coating, and it does not have almonds in it. I found my almond bark (by Plymouth Pantry) at Wal-Mart after some difficulty. Apparently some states make it easier to find than others. It is also available on-line, but is really expensive that way.
***Some people have written reviews of Trisha Yearwood’s recipe online, and some are not very kind. This is not the fault of the recipe, however. Some crockpots are simply made better than others, so some crockpots cook this beautifully over three hours with no burning. Others don’t. Be willing to make mistakes. If you have to make a second batch and adjust the cooking time or temperature, then no biggie.
Trisha’s Peanut Brittle
Things you should know before starting: if you are a first-timer to peanut brittle, as I am, you should know that you are basically making caramel with peanuts in it for the first half of the recipe. This means two things: you MUST use a reliable candy thermometer and a pot that will be shallow enough for the thermometer to reach the liquid inside while also allowing room for a good, violent boil. I had to change pots in the beginning, just before turning the burner on, because my pot was too deep for my thermometer to reach the liquid.
Also, you should know that you will be stirring continuously for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how long it takes you to reach the specified temperature thresholds. This is a lot of work…but SO worth it. After the peanuts are added, it does take more elbow grease to keep stirring continuously. If you stop stirring, you will burn your brittle.
Finally, be prepared to move very very very quickly. After the butter has been added, the remaining steps seem to happen almost simultaneously. It is helpful to have your mise en place established before you get started so that everything is very near at hand and already measured out. I would not recommend trying this for the first time without a trusty sous chef in your kitchen. I made two batches–by the second, I was more confident to do this alone. For the first batch, I needed the extra arm to stir for me when I got exhausted.
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup*
3 cups raw shelled peanuts**
1 stick of butter, chopped into small pieces (smaller than 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon salt, mix together in small bowl
1 tablespoon vanilla
1. Read the instructions above. Then, when you are ready, line two jelly roll pans or medium cookie sheets with sides with parchment paper, or coat with butter. I used parchment paper. I have heard that coating the pans with butter can lead to greasy-bottomed brittle. Not appetizing. Next, clip your candy thermometer to your pot, being careful not to let the bottom touch the bottom of the pan.
2. Pour sugar, water, and light corn syrup into a pot on stovetop. Stir continuously and bring to a boil.
3. Stir continuously, careful to scrape the bottom of the pot as you do, until the temperature reaches 240 degrees. (Took me about ten minutes.)
4. Add peanuts while stirring.
5. Continue to stir until your mixture reaches 300 degrees. (Took about another additional ten or fifteen minutes.) You can remove your thermometer once you have reached 300 degrees.
6. Carefully add sliced butter and stir until it is melted. Be aware: the water and fat in the butter will cause a violent boil. Do NOT panic! Just keep stirring and everything will be fine–it will all be over extremely quickly.
7. Add vanilla while stirring. Then add baking soda and salt mixture while stirring.
8. Quickly and carefully pour half of the concoction in one pan and the other half in the second pan. You may need to take your spoon and spread the brittle out so that it is a thin-ish layer–move quickly; this will begin to set immediately.
9. Allow to cool. You should be able to hold your hand just over the brittle and feel no heat emanating from it.
10. Once cool, it is time to break (which is the best part). Spread a piece of parchment paper over the entire pan, take a meat tenderizer and smack the brittle with the flat side of the tenderizer. Don’t overdo it–you don’t want peanut brittle dust!
*Cooking tip: liberally spray your measuring cup with your favorite nonstick spray (I use 100% Canola because it is soy-free), and your corn syrup will slide right out!
**It is important not to use the salted, roasted peanuts. I found bags of the raw shelled peanuts in the produce aisle alongside the other fresh nuts.