The Love Affair Began on FacebookGleaming chocolate nut candy bites and the words “so simple!” alongside. I was immediately smitten. After all, I like chocolate. I also like nuts. And I’m always looking for simple recipes that consistently please and always turn out.
So I looked at the various recipes for Christmas Crack in the Crock Pot. After scrolling multiple screens past short paragraphs interspersed with a lot of ads to finally find the ingredients and methodology, my reaction was, “It does seem easy. And great result for the labor involved. But YIKES! That’s way, way, way too sweet.”
I gave it try – already ramping back on the ultimate sweetness level by cutting out some of the white chocolate – and it was indeed simple, and the result very addictive. Even so, I found it still too sweet. Nevertheless, the first batch disappeared quickly, mostly because my brother-in-law’s lizard brain said “oh look nuts, nuts are healthy” and he was eating it for breakfast. (My lizard brain lies to me too.)
Since then I’ve made it several more times, and this year multiple batches. I’ve finally ended up in just the right place for my palate. It’s got the creaminess of a milk chocolate but edges toward the cocoa flavor of a semi-sweet. I also experimented with different nuts.
Chocolate Nut Candy in the Crock Pot
So here it is, my personal perfected recipe for Chocolate Nut Candy in the Crock Pot. It’s easy, it’s delicious. You melt stuff together, spoon it onto wax paper, and let it cool.
Here’s the whole ingredient list. You can go organic and upscale, of course. It’s all about what you can afford and want to serve. Certified gluten-free options for these ingredients are available as well.
- 2 bags (10 oz) peanut butter chips.
- 1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- 1 bag (12 oz) white chocolate chips or non-chocolate white “baking morsels” (for clarity, I’ll refer to these as the “white chocolate” hereafter).
- 1 jar (16 oz) salted roasted peanuts.
- 8 ounces unsalted slivered almonds, toasted.
- 8 ounces of other unsalted nuts, or more peanuts.
You’ll also need waxed paper and a couple cookie sheets.
Shopping for the Ingredients
The cost of the ingredients can add up. If I’m planning to make it, I look for sales on the baking chips. They’ll keep a long while, so I stock up when possible. Nuts don’t keep forever, though, and they are pricey. For example, a jar of peanuts, generic brand, can run $6-8 US. (That’s another reason I like this recipe – it hasn’t failed and wasted the investment in the ingredients.)
From about September onward I look for sales on nuts. My go to is Trader Joe’s. Their price is no more than anyone else’s (usually less) and they’ve often done some of the work by toasting them without charging a premium price. (Of course, you can buy raw and toast them yourself too, see below.)
Notes about the Chips and Chocolate
The predominant recipes for “Christmas Crack in the Crock Pot” you’ll find on the web use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet. Instead of 12 ounces of white chocolate chips, they call for as much as 2 pounds of white vanilla flavored candy coating or “bark.” I know without making it that the result will be a one-note ultra-sweet peanut butter and hardly any chocolate flavor. I also want more nuts in the ratio. It gives each candy a satisfying bite, crunch, and chew.
So I’ve substituted the semi-sweet for the milk and cut the white chocolate in half (and then some). You can still use the white candy coating, but I like the baking morsels which are mostly the same thing with nonfat milk too. Actual white chocolate is even better but can cost twice as much as the other chips.
Notes about the Nuts
My first batch was all peanut and darned tasty. My best result was peanuts, almonds, and a mix of pecans and macadamias leftover from other projects.
As with the oats in my favorite oatmeal cookie, it will really, really boost the flavor and crunch of the nuts if they are toasted. The difference is simply amazing. If any of the nuts are labelled as “roasted” or “toasted”, you don’t need to anything more with them. If not, do whatever chopping is necessary, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and pop under the broiler for 3 minutes. Then check every 30-45 seconds until you can smell the nuts. The very moment your nose goes from “they smell yummy” to “they might be burning!” take them out. Almonds are easy to see when they’re toasted, but pecans it’s not so easy – your nose is the best guide.
The flexibility with the nuts is also a way to use the nuts you like alongside the almonds and peanuts. I can’t eat walnuts, but I bet they would be good. I’m not a huge pecan fan, but I was surprised at how delicious they were as a counterpoint to the peanut flavor. A few of the naturally soft macadamias changed up the texture. Hazelnut fan? Go for it. Don’t like almonds? Swap them out entirely for something you do like.
Last thing – try to make half the nuts unsalted. Otherwise it’s way too salty.
Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 90 minutes. Spoon out: 20 minutes.
Yield: 100-120 pieces, e.g. a gift of two dozen to 5 friends and plenty left for you.
You don’t even have to grease the crock pot. Dump in the nuts first, then the chips. Turn on to LOW and cover. Set a timer for one hour. After an hour, stir well, digging down to make sure all the nuts get mixed in.
Cover again, set timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, you’re ready for the next phase.
Stir thoroughly. Turn off the crock pot.
Working with the Chocolate
Don’t let the chocolate get too hot – keep the setting LOW. You don’t want the chocolate to seize or scorch. Also, don’t add any liquid (for example vanilla) to it. Your chocolate may seize and become inedible – TRAGEDY! Low and slow is the key.
Likewise, when you are spooning out the mix it might cool and become clumpy to work with. Turn the crock pot back on low for a few minutes and stir.
Spoon Out and Let Cool
Turn off the crock pot. Using an ordinary tableware teaspoon, scoop out as much as you think works for a nice treat, and use a second spoon to control dropping it onto the waxed paper as needed – not your finger! That stuff is hot. It won’t solidify right away so you can lift out a nut or add one, and push the mixture into shapes you like better.
They won’t spread out hardly at all, so drop them as close together as you like. I do like each piece having its own individual look and shape. I’ve never tried it (yet) but I bet you could spread the mixture on wax paper inside cookies sheets, let it solidify, and then cut into squares for a tidier, more professional look.
I do like some little variation in size. You know, for when you shouldn’t have a big piece and are looking for the smallest one you can find and feel virtuous and then you have the second smallest piece. Which feels naughty and therefore extra delicious.
Maybe that’s just me.
Once the candies are solid, you can easily peel them from the wax paper and store in an air tight container (my favorite is a mason jar) in a cool place out of direct light. They’ve never been around our house long enough to know how long they’ll taste fresh.
Estimating has too many variables, but you’ll get a close match with a See’s Candy “nut cluster” as a way to estimate how much the pieces you had add up to. The ones above are 75 calories each.