Monday, November 27, 2017

Jan's Peanut Caramel Clusters

Jan here, hoping everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

A sunny November day in the Black Hills

We had a great crowd at our house on Thursday, and the meal was successful - - even though my oven is still on the fritz! (see last week's post here!)

One of our traditions every year is to sing the hymn, "Let All Things Now Living," before we give thanks for our meal. We're not all great singers, but praising our Lord is foremost on this holy-day. Enjoy!

The next day was - of course - Black Friday. It's been a few years since we've participated in the Black Friday frenzy. It used to be fun to get out in the morning, chat with the other crazies waiting in line, and end up at IHOP for our mid-morning refueling. Things have changed a bit since those days, and now we avoid Black Friday shopping.

But that doesn't mean we didn't go out!

This year for Christmas, hubby and I decided to buy each other a print from one of our favorite artists.

(That didn't come out right...we bought one print to share, not one for each of us!).

Jon Crane is a local artist and his gallery in Hill City has an open house and signing every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. So instead of heading toward the mall on Friday morning, we headed up into the Hills.

We chose a beautiful print that will go well with the one we already have. This print is called "Dakota Dreams."

So, now that Thanksgiving is behind us, and Black Friday is a done deal, it's time to look forward to Christmas and Christmas baking!

Without an oven, I decided to try a new candy recipe over the weekend. I developed these peanut clusters after trying the "Pay Off Day Candies" from Trim Healthy Mama. The original recipe is made with a stevia sweetener blend, but my version is made with sugar.

The batch is small, but I don't recommend doubling it. The caramel candy mixture cools quickly and becomes hard to handle. But since these only take about 10 minutes to make (total!), you can make as many batches as you want to in an afternoon.

Jan's Peanut Caramel Clusters

ingredients (makes 9 candies)

2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon caramel flavoring

2 teaspoons peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup roasted and salted peanuts

1/4 chocolate chips or chocolate melting wafers

So easy!

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and stir until it's combined, then add the cream and caramel flavoring.

Heat until it starts boiling, stirring occasionally (2-3 minutes), then boil, stirring frequently, for an additional 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until it barely reaches the soft ball stage. I don't test the "soft ball," I go by time and eye. Every 30 seconds or so, I let the mixture drip off my spatula. When the drips start to string together, then I know it's ready. (Since this is a small batch, the mixture cooks more quickly than a batch of fudge - don't overcook it!)

Remove from heat, then add the peanut butter and salt. Stir until smooth.

Add the peanuts and stir until combined.

Now you need to work quickly. Drop the coated peanuts onto parchment paper, a tablespoon at a time.

Once they have begun to cool, melt the chocolate according to the package directions. Drizzle over the candies.


Next week? The Annual Great Christmas Tree Hunt!

Now let's talk about you! How was your Thanksgiving? Did you go out shopping on Black Friday?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. I love the picture!

    And now I want caramel and nuts. Like desperately. Like SO DESPERATELY!!!! :)

    What a fun idea, Jan! Do they really need caramel flavoring? What do you think?

    I love caramel and nuts and chocolate. I am a big fan, Jan, so now I think I love you even more.


    1. I love that picture, too. Love it.

      Do you NEED the caramel flavoring??? Well, probably not. But you don't cook the sugar and butter together enough to caramelize it, so it doesn't naturally take on that caramel flavor.

      But the sugar/butter combo is fabulous, too. So leave the flavoring out if you don't have any! I keep it on hand to make salted caramel shakes...hmm, maybe I need to share that recipe...

      And you'll love me even more than ever when you make these and find out how stinkin' easy they are!

  2. Jan, these look and sound amazing!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!!

    1. This batch is gone already - the family loved them!

  3. Oh Jan, I love that print. It would make a great book cover too.

    I also love your tradition of singing before the meal. What a wonderful family memory.

    1. We love that print, too! We drive near that ranch regularly, and every time we do, we say, "There's our picture!"

      We started the singing before grace to help bring the focus of the day off the meal and back where it belongs. After a long morning of prepping, I always feel like I need that extra reminder!

  4. I love that hymn singing tradition...and that you let the not very good singers chime in. :-) (though you might change that if you heard me sing.)

    Haven't been much of a candy maker. I think the only thing I've done is truffles. But this looks pretty straight forward. I might brave trying it.

    Looking forward to your tree hunt. That's a neat tradition as well -- especially since you do it with your church family.

    1. Kav, we not only "let" the not very good singers chime in, but everyone is encouraged to sing. After all, God made all of our voices, and He's the one who loves to hear our praise. :-) And like I said in my post on the ACFW blog today, there's no rule that says you must be good at something to enjoy it.

      This is a pretty simple recipe. The big thing is to not overcook the candy part. It's better to undercook it and end up refrigerating the treats than to overcook it and have grainy caramel!

      See you here next week! We're buying our tree tag today!

  5. My comments keep disappearing! I'll re-do it. Hopefully it won't show up twice later.

    Jan, that photo is beautiful! I love the idea of sharing a gift like that. :) I also love making candy at the holidays. Thanks for sharing!

    1. We love Jon Crane's paintings! I've posted a few of them on my Pinterest board - here's the link if you want to browse!

  6. Well, Jan, like everyone else, I love that picture. So tranquil. And the candy...? Let me just wipe my drool off of the keyboard.

    Thanksgiving was lowkey, but still great. And, of course, we all ate too much. But it was SO good.