Slow Cooking Spring Sweets

by Dr. Krystal White Contributing writer

Some things get put into a category and never break free. Think of a TV actor who can’t make the shift into film once his series ends, a romance potential kept in the friend zone, a wardrobe item you only wear after the guests leave and you’re going to spend eight hours on the couch with your Apple TV. Yes, it’s easy to keep things in their usual status quo. The Crock-Pot is easily typecast as a winter kitchen appliance, mainly unearthed from storage to slowly marinate stews, chili and heavy meats.
Sometimes, though, especially when spring starts to woo us with its fresh green sights and late day sunbeams, you feel more open to freshen up the usual. You’re more willing to branch out and try something new.
It’s time to bring the crockpot into sweeter places. You’re ready to taste and cook something light, delicious and ample enough to feed a crowd.
Most of us have the means to make this sweetness happen. Slow cookers currently are a popular kitchen item, as 83 percent of homes reported owning one, according to consumer reports in 2011.
Most wedding registries insist on including one as a desired present, and if we are honest with ourselves, we are always looking to upgrade to a better version that is easier to clean and cooks mores evenly. The biggest drawback to cooking with a slow cooker is cleaning it, so when the cooking dish was redesigned to detach in order to submerge in a sink of suds or be put into the dishwater, homes around the globe did a little happy dance worthy of a Farrell music video.
Slow cookers have come a long way since their inception into our American meal preparation scene in the early 1940s. Home cooks enjoyed a period of 30 years of perfectly tenderizing less expensive cuts of meat, melting cheese into perfect comfort food and easily preparing grandmother’s chicken soup before the brand name Crock-Pot came into the scene in the 1970s. Superior advertising over the years of “fixing and forgetting it” has led us to think of the brand Crock-Pot when we think of any generic slow cooker.

Slow cooker cupcakes
Having a dinner party? Just want cupcakes for a Sunday afternoon hanging out watching movies? These will be the most moist cupcakes you’ve tasted.
The key here is using separate silicone baking muffin cups, lined with a typical cupcake wrapper. They hold their own at the bottom of the Crock-Pot well. Once they are filled with the batter, plop the filled cups down on the bottom of the Crock-Pot and then carefully pour a little water in the bottom of the slow cooker. Prop the lid open with a wooden spoon to allow any steam to escape. Watch them after five hours, when they might be done cooking. Or set them on low overnight, and wake up to cupcakes in the morning. Any cupcake or muffin batter will do the trick.


Slow cooker candy
This method is recommended when you are short on time and need something special to bring for your child’s slumber party, classroom birthday or office gathering. Easy to whip together, fun to customize and simple to transport, this candy recipe will be in your back pocket as a home chef for years to come. Children love helping concoct different flavors and have mom and dad sample their creations. Child tested, and slow cooker approved!

Makes 24 small chocolate candies
– Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper or prepare 24 mini muffin tins with liners
– Pick a chocolate type. We live in the epicenter of access to the world’s best chocolate at affordable prices. Let the chocoholics of the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center rejoice. Fun chocolate flavors make fun candy.
– Add your selection of chocolate to the slow cooker. For every cup of chocolate, also add in 3 tablespoons of coconut oil.
– Set the slow cooker on low. Stir every 15 minutes over the course of an hour, turning the slow cooker to simmer when the chocolate is melted.
– Immediately add in your extras. For every cup of chocolate, add in a cup of extras, such as crushed pretzels, shredded coconut, dried fruit, nuts or other candies (we dipped gummie bears into the mixture using chopsticks and loved the messiness of the process. Keep it simple by choosing nuts).
– Spoon into lined mini muffin tin or plop on the lined plate one tablespoon at a time.
– Chill for at least 30 minutes.
– Try real hard not to eat these all by yourself!

Slow cooker silky strawberry cheesecake
The strawberry reigns as the beauty queen fruit of spring. Combined with sweet cheese, they are elevated to culinary deity.
Why make cheesecake with a slow cooker? You’re guaranteed incredibly creamy, dreamy results!
You’ll be cooking the cheesecake in a pan that can fit inside the slow cooker. Experiment to see what type of pan can fit. A loaf pan, an 8 by 8 brownie pan, a round cake pan, or two small loaf pans might do the trick. You need to put sturdy, but short, glass jars at the bottom of the slow cooker on which to rest these pans. Fill the cooker with water about an inch up the side with the jar top well above the water line. Then, rest your pan prepared with the batter on top of the jars.

Serves 6 (good size portions)

The easy crust:
– Mix 1/3 cup slivered almonds, 1/4 cup almond meal, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 2/3 cup crushed graham crackers. Pour in 3 tablespoons melted, salted butter into the mixture to form the crust. Press down on the bottom of your chosen, pre-buttered pan.

The easy filling:
– Use a mixer, processer or blender to combine 8 ounces of cream cheese (best to do at room temperature), 1/2 cup sugar (or 1/3 plus a tablespoon of sugar substitute), a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon.
– For the adventurous types, add in a tablespoon of Grand Marnier.
– Beat/blend for two minutes, and then add 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon almond extract and a cup of sour cream. Blend again until smooth.
– Pour the batter into the springform pan. Cook for at least four hours, and chill it overnight or for at least two hours.

The topping:
– Combine a cup of slivered, fresh strawberries with a tablespoon of turbinado sugar and a tablespoon of Grand Mariner or 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Serve over each slice.

“The Trinity”
This is the easiest, most superb dessert any human with a kitchen appliance has devised. This is guaranteed to become your new comfort food, your new wine party go to dessert and your new foodie fantasy.
It’s pure, edible heaven.

Serves 2 (Yes, keep the portion control within reasonable limits!)

– Use a small Crock-Pot or two small ramekins for this delicious dessert. If using the ramekins, place them at the bottom of the crockpot and fill water halfway up the sides. These will take two hours to cook on high.
– Layer on the bottom of the Crock-Pot or divide among the ramekins: one goat cheese log, sliced; 2 tablespoons walnut pieces; and one sliced pear.
– Once the mixture is hot and melted together (or you can’ t resist your urges any longer!), drizzle high quality honey over the top of the cheese. Top with a few sprigs of spring dried lavender if you’re feeling fancy. Eat with a spoon.

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