Friday, November 18, 2011

Puppy Chow

       My father has taught me many things in life: good work ethic, compassion, dry humor, love. Some days, though, my favorite thing he instilled in me is his sweet tooth. Since I was young I have memories of him scraping the last bits of ice cream from a bowl, sometimes over exaggerating and scraping his spoon even when everything was gone, just to see if he would get a reaction from us kids. He even puts strawberry syrup on his cereal to give it that extra bit of sweetness. I don't go that far, that's too weird. My dad is also the one who ate all of my cookie mess-ups when I was just learning how to bake. He always tells me that there is no such thing as a bad cookie if it was homemade. Even if I don't agree with this statement (some of those first cookies got pretty crispy (with extra "flavor" (the burnt bottoms and edges))) the fact that he ate every single batch I ever made was extremely encouraging. I was always given a blue ribbon for my effort, in fact, I was given two.
       Though today I'm not sharing cookies, I am sharing something sugary and sweet, perfect for the sweet-tooth. Puppy Chow. Many people know this treat as "Muddy Buddies", but I grew up calling it Puppy Chow and refuse to call it anything else--I can be stubborn. I have made many batches over the years, and because of this I have found my favorite types of ingredients to use. First, I like to start with rice chex as opposed to corn chex. I prefer the lighter crunch and less pronounced flavor so the chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar can shine. The off-brand rice chex is acceptable to use, and is often what I choose to purchase. Next, I love using milk chocolate in my Puppy Chow. It is creamy and not overpowering, which is how I find semi-sweet chocolate to be. I have to use a certain type of milk chocolate though: Nestle. I even go so far as to check the expiration dates--the fresher the chocolate the better for the Puppy Chow.
       I used to think that it didn't matter what type of peanut butter I used as long as it was creamy, so I always bought the Our Family brand because it was the cheapest. Now I've come to realize the type of peanut butter does matter. I don't like using Skippy or Jiff, they are underwhelming and disappointing in Puppy Chow. Ironically, I prefer the Our Family. Lucky me, it's the least expensive around these parts. (As a side note, I have never tried using natural peanut butter but plan to in the future.) Finally, I discovered that the brand of powdered sugar matters as well in this recipe. I once bought some off-brand powdered sugar out of convenience, but it was no good in Puppy Chow. It wasn't even sweet and it left a waxy coating on my mouth after testing it, weird. Lesson learned.
       So, without further ado, here is the recipe; enjoy eating some crunchy, peanut butter/chocolate, sweet goodness. =)

Puppy Chow

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1-11.5 ounce bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 bag powdered sugar (you might not use it all)
  • 1 box rice chex


--Empty cereal box into an extra large Tupperware bowl

--In a separate microwaveable bowl, place butter, chocolate chips, and peanut butter. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir.

--Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each stop. You want the chocolate to be nice and runny, but be careful to not let it seize (become stiff and overcooked).

--Once chocolate mixture is melted, pour half of it over the cereal. Carefully stir the cereal to get it coated in the chocolate, try not to break the pieces.

--Once first half seems sufficiently combined, pour the rest of the chocolate over the cereal. Continue to mix the cereal slowly until all the cereal pieces are completely covered in chocolate.

--After the cereal is thoroughly covered, sprinkle 3 cups of the powdered sugar over the chocolate-covered cereal. Put the lid on the bowl and shake gently until the powdered sugar is soaked up into the cereal pieces evenly. You can add more powdered sugar as desired.

--Be careful not to add all of the powdered sugar at one otherwise it will all disolve into the hot chocolate pieces. Instead, once you have about 4 or so cups in the cereal, wait until the chocolate cools mostly down to add the final sprinkling of powdered sugar. This gives the nice, powdery white look that the Puppy Chow has when finished.

Happy Baking!

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