Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and along with it the age-old question: “What kind of candy will I give?”

Of course, you can purchase your candy gifts – the National Retail Federation reports that Americans spent around $1.7 billion on candy for their Valentines in the last couple of years – but it’s so fun and easier than you think to make your own.

Let your slow cooker do the melting instead of standing over a hot stove. Simply layer the ingredients and warm for an hour or so, then stir and scoop into mini-muffin papers. The recipe is delicious with or without nuts, and makes more than 50 just-the-right-sized candies for kids — so it’s a great class party treat. You can also make a large piece of chocolate bark, an impressive gift for the chocoholic in your life, or use a heart-shaped parchment-lined pan for the perfect love note.

Without nuts:

  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely broken pretzel crisps (thin, flat pretzels)
  • 1 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 12-ounce package dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 of a 1-pound package chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 of a 1-pound package vanilla candy coating, coarsely chopped
  • Sparkling sugar crystals

With nuts:

  • Omit the pretzel chips and use 2 cups roasted salted peanuts
  • Use 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • Omit the dark chocolate chips and use one 12-ounce bag butterscotch chips
  • Layer in slow cooker per recipe directions
  1. Heat a 3- or 4-quart slow cooker on low setting.
  2. Mix the pretzels and cereal together and pour into the slow cooker.
  3. Sprinkle the package of chocolate chips evenly over the pretzel-cereal mixture.
  4. Sprinkle the raisins over the chocolate chips.
  5. Place the chopped candy coating pieces over the raisins, then cover the slow cooker and cook for 1 hour.
  6. Check the mixture after an hour by stirring with a spatula. The larger chocolate pieces may not look melted but will soften upon stirring.
  7. If the chocolate isn’t completely melted, let the mixture cook for another 15-30 minutes, checking after 15 minutes so that the chocolate doesn’t scorch.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and mini-muffin cups.
  9. Use 2 teaspoons to scoop the chocolate mixture into the cups.
  10. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until solid, then store in airtight containers away from heat.
  11. Makes 50-60 candies (less if you use part of the mixture to make chocolate bark).

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