Old time popcorn balls

Old Time Popcorn Balls
2 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine molasses, sugar, water, vinegar and butter. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until candy thermometer reads 235 degrees (soft-ball stage). Add baking soda; stir well. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over popcorn, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until well coated. When cool enough to handle, quickly shape into 3 inch balls, dipping hands in cold water to prevent the syrup from sticking.
After shaping the popcorn balls, wrap with clear or colored plastic wrap. You can add a holiday touch by tying them with colored ribbons.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Caramel apples

Caramel Apples
1 cup butter (no substitutes)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 to 10 wooden sticks
8 to 10 medium tart apples
In a heavy 3 quart saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and milk; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm-ball stage), about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Insert wooden sticks into apples. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture; turn to coat. Set on waxed paper to cool.
For even more fun and flavor, roll the bottom of each coated apple in chopped peanuts before setting on the waxed paper to cool.
Makes 8 to 10 apples.

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Chocolate souffle

Chocolate Souffle
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sour cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 (3 ounce) box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup chocolate chips, optional
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Spray interior of a 6 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Pour souffle mixture into cooker. Cover; cook on low for 6 hours. (Do not lift the lid until the end of the cooking time!) Insert toothpick into center of cake to see if it comes out clean. If it does, the souffle is finished. If it doesn’t, continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Check again. Repeat until its finished cooking. Serve warm from the cooker with ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.

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Brownies with nuts

Brownies With Nuts
1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted
1 cup chopped nuts, divided
1 (23 ounce) package brownie mix
Pour melted butter into a baking insert designed to fit into your slow cooker. Swirl butter around to grease sides of insert. Sprinkle butter with half of the nuts. In a bowl, mix brownies according to package directions. Spoon half of the batter into baking insert, trying to cover the nuts evenly. Add remaining half of nuts. Spoon in remaining batter. Place insert into 5 quart slow cooker. Cover insert with 8 paper towels. Cover cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours. Do not check or remove cover until last hour of cooking. Then insert toothpick into center of brownies. If it comes out clean, the brownies are finished. If it doesn’t, continue cooking another 15 minutes. Check again. Repeat until pick comes out clean. When finished cooking, uncover cooker and baking insert. Let brownies stand for 5 minutes. Invert insert onto serving plate. Cut brownies with a plastic knife (so the crumbs don’t drag). Serve warm.
Makes 24 brownies.

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Black forrest cake

Black Forest Cake
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling (lite or regular)
1 (18.25 ounce) box chocolate cake mix, butter-style
Preheat 4 to 5 quart slow cooker on high for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, spray interior of baking insert, designed to fit your slow cooker, with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, stir together pie filling and cake mix until mix is thoroughly moistened. Spoon into insert. Place insert into cooker. Cover insert with 8 paper towels. Cover slow cooker. Cook on high for 1 3/4 hours. Remove cooker lid and paper towels. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove baking insert from cooker. Serve cake warm directly from the insert.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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Pumpkin pie dessert

Pumpkin Pie Dessert
1 (19 ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Boiling water
1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
In a large mixing bowl, stir together pie filling, milk and eggs until thoroughly mixed. Pour into an ungreased baking insert designed to fit into your slow cooker. Place filled baking insert into 5 to 6 quart slow cooker. Cover the insert with its lid or with 8 paper towels. Carefully pour boiling water into cooker around the baking insert, to a depth of 1 inch. Cover cooker. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or until a tester inserted in center of custard comes out clean. Remove baking insert from slow cooker. Remove its lid. Sprinkle dessert with cookie crumbs. Serve warm from baking insert.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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Mocha truffles

Mocha Truffles
2 packages (12 ounces each) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons water
1 pound dark chocolate candy coating
White candy coating, optional
In a microwave-safe bowl or double boiler, melt chocolate chips. Add cream cheese, coffee and water; mix well. Chill until firm enough to shape. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Chill for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm. Melt chocolate coating in microwave-safe bowl or double boiler. Dip balls and place on waxed paper to harden. If desired, melt white coating and drizzle over truffles.
Truffles can be frozen for several months before dipping in chocolate. Thaw in the refrigerator before dipping.
Makes 5 1/2 dozen.

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