Baking is really damn difficult. We can’t all be alchemical magicians — manipulating flour, sugar, and sometimes yeast for fantastic effect. Believe me, it’s a sensitive topic: how I’ve longed for the ability to whip up a strawberry cake, or some white chocolate raspberry scones from scratch! Cooking and baking are two very different skill sets, though I’m determined to develop the latter eventually– by messing up every single time, if that is what it takes.
My efforts have yielded little success as of yet. But everyone still demands sweets! So, to deliver the easiest dessert that happens to include close-to-no-baking, I turn to this recipe for chocolate peanut clusters from the Brown-eyed Baker:
cooking time approximately 4 hours, yields about 100 clusters
- 16 ounces dry-roasted peanutes
- 16 ounces salted cocktail peanuts
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 10-12 ounces milk chocolate chips
- 20 ounces peanut butter chips
- 25-30 ounces white chocolate chips
- Pour the ingredients in a 4-6 quart slowcooker, stirring to combine.
- Cook on low for 2 hours, checking every 30 minutes or so, and stirring to prevent any ingredients from burning.
- Once the ingredients are full melted and combined, lay out large swaths of parchment paper. Using a soup spoon, plop mounds on the parchment paper and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours. When they are hardened, they’re reading for packaging … or eating.
Chocolate peanut clusters hold a lot of memories for me. One of my grandmothers made a recipe similar to this one every year, and it was my favorite holiday treat. I’ve tried iterations that include butterscotch, or almonds or cashews in place of the peanuts, but there’s nothing like the salty-sweet goodness of these classic clusters. As a peanut butter and white chocolate fiend, I can hardly ever eat just one, and I try to get them out of the door into my friends’ and neighbors’ arms as quickly as possible.
What Could Make it a Misadventure?
While this recipe can be dead simple, there are a few things that can go wrong. Let me elaborate and save you from your own series of baking misadventures:
- When buying ingredients, make sure you buy dry-roasted peanuts. Not honey roasted, and definitely don’t just double the amount of salted peanuts in the recipe. The former will burn, the latter will make these delightful treats FAR too salty (even por moi!).
- Before you start, get familiar with your slowcooker. Some brands cook at higher temperatures than others, or maybe you have a slightly wonky model that always dries out your Mississippi roast. These clusters need to be cooked low and slow, so make sure you have a slowcooker that can do so. Otherwise, the chocolate or peanuts will burn! If you’re wondering whether your appliance will cook at a reliably low temperature, trying googling the make and model and browse the reviews for hints.
- No matter how reliable your slowcooker, the chocolate is likely to seize at some point while you’re cooking these clusters. It will look like it’s drying out and getting gummy, especially along the bottom and warmer sides of the slowcooker. But fear not! Just stir the seized chocolate in with the melt–y stuff, and it will be blended in no time. This is why I encourage you to check and stir the clusters every 30 minutes or so!
- Finally, when you get to the last step, you should keep two things in mind: first, the chocolate will be hot, so you’ll need a couple spoons to manipulate the goop into clusters. Second, consider wisely where you let the clusters cool. There will be a LOT if them; as in, at least a table full. Make sure you let the clusters cool away from high traffic areas where greedy fingers or furry paws might be tempted to test them out.