Years ago, during a pre-children Christmas get together, my husband and I were catching up with a bunch of his cousins. We were stuffed to our ears with holiday food and had retired to the couch to digest, chit chat, and take turns trying to master Guitar Hero. My cousin-in-law set a bowl of some kind of snack mix in front of me and I nearly fainted from just the thought of another bite passing through my lips. Strike two was the fact that it appeared to be covered in white chocolate; not my favorite food. If it isn’t swirled into a cheesecake, whipped into buttercream, or mixed with dark chocolate and espresso, I generally avoid it. White chocolate isn’t actually chocolate at all, but I’ll stay off that soapbox until another day!
Needless to say, I smiled politely and declined.
But this cousin was sneaky and she knew the power of a Cheerio, peanut, and M&M combo. She innocently left the bowl there and what happened next was nothing short of shameful. I ate it. All. Every crumb. It was seducing with its creamy sort of sweetness and addicting crispy crunch. The sweet and salty combination just kept wooing me, pulling my fingers back for just one. more. bite.
I never forgot that day. It has haunted my holiday dreams for more than a decade and about a year ago, I caved and emailed said cousin. Did she possibly remember that snack mix, and would she be willing to part with the recipe? Of course! was her reply, and I anxiously awaited the time of year when it is again acceptable to repeatedly serve unhealthy foods to friends and family. A time of year when one batch of something is large enough to be used for a dessert buffet, a snack for that work meeting, after school munchies, and the unexpected treat that you now realize you forgot to make for you kids school holiday celebration. It stays fresh and crunchy for several days so make sure you plan to throw this together on a family candy making day. It looks beautiful in clear cellophane bags tied with ribbon. It also makes a great gift for teachers, church volunteers, neighbors, or just a quick sweet treat to whip up that the kids can help with. Fun, festive, and hauntingly good.
Recipe adapted from Katie Arcand
2-12 oz-bags good quality white chocolate or 24 ounces of white chocolate chopped-NOT ALMOND BARK
3 T vegetable or canola oil
4 c Cheerios or other toasted oat cereal
4 c Rice Chex or similar cereal
2 c small twisted pretzels
2 c salted, roasted peanuts
1-12 oz bag plain M&M’s in festive Christmas colors
In a medium glass bowl, microwave the white chocolate and oil in 30 second intervals, stirring between times to distribute the heat. Be careful that you don’t let the chocolate burn! If only a piece or two of chocolate are yet unmelted, stir vigorously and the mixture will become smooth. Meanwhile, gently toss the remaining ingredients together in a super duper large bowl. Divide the mixture between two if needed. Pour the melted chocolate over and carefully mix until everything is lightly coated. Spread the munch out on two sheet pans that have been lined with wax or parchment paper. Cool until set and break into smaller pieces. Store tightly sealed.