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Andrea Yeager: Candy made in a slow cooker? Sweet!

Last week's column sent readers zipping me e-mails almost as soon as the newspaper hit the doorstep or Internet.

Certain recipe requests trigger reader answers. Sweets from candy to cakes and breads are often readers' favorites especially as the holidays draw near.

Picayune's Myrtle R. Taylor's request for slow-cooker candy had four readers sending in replies. Taylor will have to tell us how these recipes turn out. All the recipes are similar, but the ingredient amounts vary.

"I believe this is the slow-cooker candy recipe that Myrtle R. Taylor of Picayune requested," Linda Hook of Ocean Springs said. "A friend shared the recipe with me a few years ago, and it is indeed a chocoholic's delight!"

SLOW-COOKER CANDY

1 jar salted peanuts

1 jar unsalted peanuts

2 bars almond bark; break up a bit

1 bar Baker's sweet German chocolate (green label); break up a bit

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Layer in order in slow cooker (use a liner; you will be very glad you did!). Cook on low for 3 hours. Stir well, reaching below to get the peanuts coated with melted chocolate. Scoop (I use a small ice cream scoop) out onto wax paper and let cool until set. I line cabinet tops with newspaper, dish towels then wax paper (keeps wax paper from melting onto cabinets!). Be careful when "scooping" -- it's very hot. Makes a lot, between 11-12 dozen. Store in refrigerator after they harden a bit.

-- Submitted by Linda Hook

Nancy Laird has a similar recipe. She calls hers Chocolate Peanut Clusters and does not specify whether to use semi-sweet chips or milk chocolate

chips.

"I was just reading your column and saw the request for the slow-cooker candy," Laird said. "I believe I have the recipe your reader requested."

CHOCOLATE PEANUT CLUSTERS

In a 6-quart slow cooker, add the following ingredients. In 3 hours, stir and spoon out in clusters. Don't peek or open the lid.

1 large jar roasted unsalted peanuts

1 large jar roasted salted peanuts

1 large bag chocolate chips

4-ounce bar German chocolate, cut up in pieces

2 pounds of almond bark, cut up

Layer in order given. Set slow cooker on low. Check at 2 hours. Mix up. If all ingredients are melted together, spoon out by individual spoonsful to cool on wax paper. Let cool 30-60 minutes before removing from wax paper.

-- Submitted by Nancy Laird

Elaine Smith Norris of Gulfport has the same recipe but gives exact sizes and amounts for nuts and candy.

"This makes a lot, so use a large slow cooker," Norris said. "Mother and I last made this the Christmas after Katrina in her FEMA trailer to give to neighbors and friends. I remember having wax paper on every surface in that trailer!"

SLOW-COOKER CANDY

1 (16-ounce) jar salted dry roasted peanuts

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 (1- 1/2-pound) bars white almond bark

1 (16-ounce) jar unsalted dry roasted peanuts

1 (8-ounce) bar German sweet chocolate

Break chocolate and bark into pieces.

Layer in slow cooker in the order listed. Cook on low 3 hours without opening lid.

Stir well and drop by spoonsful onto wax paper to cool.

Store in airtight containers in a cool place.

-- Submitted by Elaine Smith Norris

Ruth Mevers of Gulfport shares her recipe. Hers calls for four different types of candy.

SLOW-COOKING CANDY

1 bar German chocolate

1 bar white almond bark

1 (16-ounce) jar unsalted peanuts (dry roasted; see note)

1 (16-ounce) jar salted peanuts (dry roasted)

1 bag milk chocolate chips

1/2 bar chocolate almond bark

In a slow cooker, layer as follows: German chocolate bar, both almond barks, chocolate chips, then the peanuts. Put on low and do not lift the lid for 2 hours. When 2 hours are up, turn off.

Stir mixture all together until smooth and drop by teaspoonfuls or larger onto waxed paper.

You also can drop into small candy/cupcake papers. However, through experimenting, I found it's easier to spread in a large cookie sheet, sprayed with a little nonstick spray, and then I put it in the refrigerator to cool for about an hour. Then, using a knife, I cut through and just cut the pieces into squares. It's so much easier and less time consuming.

Keep refrigerated in a tight container.

Note: As I can't usually find the unsalted peanuts, I just use the salted one. Enjoy.

-- Submitted by Ruth Mevers

Fall for hearty soup

Kathy Dooley of Deatsville, Ala., sent in a soup recipe that is perfect for the cooler days the Coast has had. It's a beef and barley soup that is packed with veggies and is done in the slow cooker.

This soup can be made before heading out for work or taking the children to school. Fall days get pretty hectic with work, school and extracurricular activities. Slow cookers are our friends.

BEEF BARLEY VEGETABLE SOUP

1 cup frozen green beans

1 cup whole kernel corn

1- 1/2 pounds beef stew meat

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2/3 cup uncooked barley

1- 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 (14-ounce) cans ready-to-serve beef broth

2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, undrained

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

Rinse green beans and corn with cold water to separate and partially thaw.

Mix all ingredients in a 3- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 to 9 hours or high setting for 4-5 hours, until vegetables and barley are tender.

-- Submitted by Kathy Dooley

No-fail banana cake

"I noticed someone was having trouble with banana nut cake," said Ruth Mevers of Gulfport, who also shared a candy recipe. "I have one I've used for years, and everyone always raves about how moist and delicious it is."

BANANA NUT CAKE

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

3 ripe bananas (smashed with a fork)

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons milk

Mix all together, and beat till smooth in electric mixer. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Makes 1 or 2 loaves.

Note: I usually double this. If you double this recipe, you can use a round, fluted cake pan or a 13-by-9-inch pan. I always spray pans with nonstick spray.

-- Submitted by Ruth Mevers

Upside-down cake

Lynette Faul made the fresh strawberry upside-down cake and said it was delicious, "but instead of crushing the strawberries, I believe I will slice them instead. I am thinking about using pears/pineapple on the next one."

I love it when readers take the time to tell us how recipes turn out. Their suggestions are the best.

Wanted: Jellyroll recipe

Janie Powell Schrantz of Woolmarket wants a recipe for a jellyroll that uses a cake mix. I told her that readers could find her one.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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