Saturday, October 1, 2011

Grownup candy

As the stores fill up with Halloween stuff (really? already?), I am reminded once again of how I never eat candy bars anymore. And I wonder: when did they start tasting so awful? Were they always that bad, and I just had a less discriminating palate when I was younger? Or have they actually gotten worse?

Of course, I can’t answer those questions until someone drops by with a Tardis and I can zip back to 1976 to check. And I think it’s a bit soon to be starting down the Curmudgeon Way (“You kids today!”, etc.). Whatever the reason, the fact remains that most of the time I feel that candy bars aren’t worth the cash or the calories.

Although honestly, even when I was a kid I wasn’t that crazy for candy; I used to give half my Halloween loot away. There were some things that I loved and hoarded, though…particularly anything chocolate-coconut. And more particularly Mounds. But not Almond Joy—nuts were out of the question back then. Those were a taste acquired with adulthood. Except now that I’ve got it, I don’t really like milk chocolate anymore, and anyway, these days both Mounds and Almond Joy taste super-sweet and not that appealing. So I figured I could use that combination and do something a little more complex and grown-up with it.

Slow cooker Almond Joy bark
Having already used the slow cooker to make almond clusters and coconut clusters, this was only a short step further. The slow cooker is perfect for this, as there is almost no chance of scorching or burning any of the ingredients, so you can fit it in with other things you’ve got going on. I made today’s batch in the midst of dealing with laundry, email, afterschool wrangling, and dinner prep with next to no effort or oversight.

1 cup almonds
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips*
a sprinkle of kosher salt

Preheat the slow cooker on high.** Add the nuts; cover and allow to toast until you can start to smell them, 30-40 minutes. Add coconut and stir to combine; cover and continue cooking until the coconut starts to toast, 15-20 minutes. Add chocolate chips and cover; continue cooking until the chips are melting, 10-15 minutes, then stir to combine completely.

Scrape the mixture out of the slow cooker onto a parchment-lined baking tray and press into an oblong of consistent thickness. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Leave to cool and set, then break into pieces and share with your friends before you eat it all yourself.

Makes roughly one 4” x 6” x .5” sheet of bark.

* I used dark chocolate chips.
** You may want to very lightly grease the inside of the slow cooker, although I didn’t bother.


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