Cooks who employ a slow cooker are well aware of the appliance's time-saving ability and ease of use for all-in-one recipes, soups and even breakfasts, but they also can be used to turn out a variety of desserts.
Stacey Swafford of Cleveland, Tenn., uses hers to create Slow Cooker Baked Apples for small dinners, Sunday morning breakfast and Christmas brunches.
"I can start them [earlier] in the day," she said, "and by the time dinner is done, dessert is ready when we are. I also enjoy making them for breakfast by starting them on Saturday night for Sunday morning breakfast."
Bevelle Puffer of My Family Dinners, a Hixson business that offers meal-assembly dinners, said she has not delved into any desserts but finds slow-cooker meals a great way to save time and put a healthy meal on the table for the family to enjoy together.
"If you know your morning will be too busy to put the ingredients together for the Crock-Pot," she said, "put it all together the night before and just dump into the Crock-Pot before you leave for work. Or put together a meal, freeze it and save for that day that you know will be incredibly busy. The frozen ingredients can go into the Crock-Pot on low, and by evening, dinner is done."
Some months ago, Connie Eldridge, a member of Soddy United Methodist Church, contributed a recipe for Triple Chocolate Mess to the congregational newsletter.
The concoction, which uses a chocolate cake mix, instant chocolate pudding and chocolate chip morsels, results in a spoonable gooey chocolate cake with chocolate icing.
Paired with vanilla ice cream, the dessert is similar to the Hot Fudge Cake that Shoney's restaurants have served for years.
Triple Chocolate Mess
1 box chocolate cake mix (not pudding cake)
1 pint sour cream
1 small package instant chocolate pudding
1 6-ounce package chocolate chip morsels
3/4 cup oil
1 cup water
Spray Crock-Pot with nonstick spray. Mix all ingredients and put in Crock-Pot and turn on low. Cook for 61/2 hours. Do not open lid while cooking. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
-- Connie Eldridge
Slow-Cooker Baked Apples
4 baking applies, cored but left whole
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
Place apples in slow cooker, making sure each is standing on the bottom of the slow cooker. Combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Stuff equally into the cored-out center. Top each apple with 1 tablespoon butter. Cover. Cook on low 4 hours or overnight for breakfast and a wonderful-smelling kitchen
-- Stacey Swafford, Cleveland
Key Lime Cake
1 box lemon cake mix
1 box lime gelatin
11/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup orange juice
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 cup lime juice
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
Spray slow-cooker liner with nonstick spray. Mix the first five ingredients and pour into slow-cooker liner. (Yes! It's green!) Cook on low for 2 hours, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Turn off the slow cooker. Mix 6 tablespoons confectioners sugar with 1/2 cup lime juice. Poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick while it's still in the slow cooker. Pour the lime juice mixture over the top, and let the cake cool. Mix the frosting ingredients. Turn the liner upside down on a serving plate to remove the cake from the liner. Frost the cake.