Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Make Count Chocula Rice Krispies Treats!

A Marshmallow Square Monster Mash Featuring Guest Appearances by Boo Berry and Franken Berry, Too!

I don’t know if you are aware of this by now, but I sorta’ like General Mills’ Monster Cereals - you know, the horror-themed breakfast product trifecta of Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry. That pack at one point included two additional monster-foodstuffs - a vanilla-flavored cereal called Yummy Mummy and a lime-flavored offering called Fruit Brute - and I’m seriously thinking about starting a national letter writing campaign to get General Mills to put the two discontinued cereals back into production for the Halloween 2013 season. While that uphill battle is still a couple of months away from kicking off, it just wouldn’t be a proper Halloween around Jimbo’s neck of the woods without SOME look at the contemporary holy trinity of monster-themed, sugar-encrusted breakfast goods, and this year, I decided to up the ante, and HARD.

I’ve never really been a fan of Rice Krispies Treats - or, if you’re a fan of more generic, non-trademarked descriptors, “marshmallow squares” - but there was just something about the idea of turning Count Chocula into a gooey cereal bar that just felt…I don’t know, necessary, for this Halloween season. But hey, why stop there? The last time I checked, there’s plenty of room in the mixing bowl for Franken Berry and Boo Berry, too - which means it was nigh time for a marshmallow sauce-soaked monster mash around casa de Internet is in America.

To replicate the experiment at home, you’re going to need a few things. Clearly, you’re going to need a box each of the General Mills cereals, and also three bags of marshmallows (one bag of the really big kind, and two of the miniature variety that you normally chunk into your hot chocolate come December.) You’re also going to need some butter, some corn syrup, and some heavy duty mixing equipment. Trust me, folks - if you’re not an excellent whisker, you may not be man enough to continue with the project.

To begin, you’re going to have to melt a stick of butter in a fairly large sized pot. From there, you’re going to have to annex about a cup and a half of corn syrup - a vital ingredient that serves as the adhesive that “glues” your little puffed rice ghosts and marshmallow bats together - into the bowl. The end result of step one of the process should look gross as shit, as you can no doubt see for yourself.

Step two entails dumping the large marshmallows into the pot. I really cannot stress how important it is to have top-notch whisking and beating utensils at your disposal. If it all possible, I would recommend dragging out the old electric egg-beater, if your have one. And if not? I’d say about a week of lifting weights before beginning the recipe would be the bare minimum to prepare you for the later stages of the prep work.

After dumping the large bag into the bowl, that’s your cue to insert the two bags of smaller marshmallows. If you’re looking at a physical estimate of how much you’ll need, I’d say that we’re probably looking at about 22 ounces of product here - a 10.5 ounce bag of large marshmallows, with two 5.5 ounce bags of the smaller marshmallows, ought to be enough to do the trick.

It doesn’t take long for your marshmallows to coalesce into a nice, creamy white ocean of sugary madness, and to make matters worse, you have a really finite amount of time before the marshmallow sauce begins hardening. As soon as the lumps in your sauce seem to disappear, that’s your cue to open the cereal boxes.

You can be really technical about what you’re doing here, but that’s kinda’ missing the point. I’d say that you would need to scoop out about one-third of the cereal from each box, but hey, it’s your dessert, so do whatever you want with it. Some folks prefer a more Boo Berry-ish mix, while others are all about the Franken Berries. There’s really no wrong way to mix things up, but remember: you are working against the clock as SOON as the first puffed up piece of rice falls into the marshmallowy abyss, so if you ain’t ready to haul ass, you may need to abort the project.

I’m not exaggerating when I say you have less than two minutes to whip your cereal up in the sauce. Any longer, and the marshmallow DNA begins to crust over, and it becomes practically impossible to move your chunks around. This is a two-person job, at the absolute minimum, and as before: egg-beater assistance is HIGHLY recommended here.

Transferring your batter from the pot to a glass container isn’t easy, but there’s a trick to it. The idea is to basically scoop all of the cereal chunks to one side of the pot, so that you create a sort of inclined plane at the bottom of the cookware. This way, you can scrap up the rest of the cereal with a spatula and use that one mound of cereal as a ramp to easily transport your mixture from resting spot A to resting spot B. And in case you are wondering? Yes, washing out marshmallow fragments in cookware IS a real bitch and a half.

From here, you really have two options with your treats. Some people like to dump the things off in the deep freeze for about a half hour, while others prefer to aluminum foil wrap it fro about an hour and a half. Personally, I prefer leaving the things out to congeal at room temperature, but whatever works for you, works for you.

Not surprisingly, it’s just a wee bit difficult to cut up the bars, and the harder they get, obviously, the more unmanageable they become. If you are really dedicated, you could probably saw through them with a butter knife, but that’s the exact verb you will performing - these things are so rocky, you pretty much HAVE to apply as much force as you can to sever them from the mother bar.

I don’t really need to tell you this, but the final products are going to be EXTREMELY messy. Even better, it’s almost impossible to eat the things with a utensil, so it looks like you have no choice but to hop in there with your grubby little meat hooks and splash chocolate cereal chunks and marshmallow webbing all over the place. Not that it’s necessarily a negative experience, of course.

One of the absolute best things about marshmallow squares is that, after they’ve gotten rock solid, they’re actually fairly easy to transport. About two hours after you begin the project, you can easily dump the remainders of the dessert into a freezer bag for safe keeping. And for those of you that like to snack on the same foodstuff for a week? These things, amazingly, manage to maintain their flavor for quite some time, so there are no worries about this stuff going “stale” anytime soon.

As far as the taste of the dish itself…I liked it. Then again, this is coming from a guy that’s spent the last two years making Franken-Food on virtually a weekly basis, so your mileage, most definitely, would vary. None of the cereals really become “dominant” as far as the overall taste of the bars are concerned, and the different textures and flavors, surprisingly, gelled quite well together. All in all, the experiment, more like the Bride of Frankenstein than Franken Berry’s literary inspiration, was a lot more successful than I had imagined.

Odds are, you’re probably going to be participating in a whole lot of Halloween hootenannies and spooky shindigs this season, and if there’s one thing that stands out at a Samhain mixer, it’s probably a huge assed block of differing cereals cobbled together like some sort of undead creature. And as an added bonus, the final product is not only edible, but somewhat yummy, to boot. Unless you have the hands of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, there really isn’t an excuse for you to miss out on this delicious abomination of science - just be sure to lend all of your were-guests non-silver sporks when it comes dessert time, of course.


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