Party Cereal (aka: Chocolate-Covered Cereal)

No, I haven’t totally lost my mind and am not suggesting you pull out the boxes of Cheerios and cartons of Silk at your next party.  😉  Instead, I am urging you to make some seriously addictive candy for your next hosting.  Or better yet…for your family for a simple dessert.  Everybody at my house expects this around Christmas, New Year’s, and at the Super Bowl “party” (which actually consists of just the family, so I’m not sure you can call that a party – lol.)

Chocolate-Covered CerealI have given up making a single batch.  I might as well not bother, because everybody will be whimpering that it is all gone and they “hardly got any.”  If you decide to make a double batch, you will need a very large mixing bowl ~ on the bottom mine claims it holds 8-qts.  For those of you moderates, or for those who don’t have to share, you will only need half that size.

Party Cereal (aka Chocolate-Covered Cereal)

  • 1 c. chocolate chips (about half a 12-oz bag…but a full cup really works the best)
  • 1/4 c. natural smooth peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 6 c. Barbara’s Bakery brand Shredded Spoonfuls cereal (you’ll need around 12 oz.)**
  • 1 c. powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate chips in a 1-qt. bowl in the microwave for 1 minute.  Stir and heat for 1 more minute.  While it is melting, measure the cereal into a 4-5 qt. bowl.  Stir the melted chocolate so that any tiny pieces left unmelted will join the club.  Now mix in the peanut butter.  Scrape the chocolate mixture onto the cereal.  Using a very gentle folding motion, begin turning the cereal over and over, carefully scraping the spoon against the bowl and trying to avoid damaging the cereal pieces.  (You will still get some crumbs in the bottom that will eventually succumb to somebody’s spoon, but I don’t think there will be any complaints.)  Keep patiently stirring ~ and nudging any clumps apart ~ until the cereal is completely covered in chocolate and there are only the tiniest occasional bare spots seen.  Pour the powdered sugar over the top of the cereal and begin the stirring process again.  When all of the pieces are evenly colored and no bare chocolate spots remain, you are done.

Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator (or freezer if you wish).

** You can use other cereals, but they need to have crevices to hold onto the chocolate and they must be sturdy enough to withstand the stirring process.  Nature’s Path makes a Heritage Bites cereal that looks like it might work.  Wheat Chex might also work, but wouldn’t be as tasty.

Frosting for Sugar Cookies

What would sugar cookies be without frosting?  Well…they’d be…um…just boring little cookies.  If you used colored sugar on them they might be a little better.  But why when you could frost them instead?  😀

You can use this recipe and just make simple white or one-color frosting to slather aimlessly on round cookies, or you can get fancy and make cut-out cookies and split your white frosting into little bowls and add food coloring to them (once a year…that’s all I use the unhealthy stuff…a few little drops.)  Then you’ve got the makings for a decorating party!  Invite your friends over or gather the kids and get busy.

Sugar Cookies 011

This recipe (pre-vegan) came from a tear-out insert in a woman’s magazine from 1990.  (Yep, I’m getting old when my clippings and savings come from over 20 years ago.  Maybe they shouldn’t date those things so that I could blissfully think it was only a little bit ago…)  It was put out by Crisco (shudder….)  It called for butter-flavored Crisco (another prerequisite shudder.)  Obviously, I do not use that any more.  Instead, I have made this into a vegan-friendly recipe.

This recipe more than covers 1 batch of my Sugar Cookies.  Although you might want a double or 1 1/2 batch of this frosting if you want lots of different colors to play with or if you have a heavy hand with spreading plenty on your cookies.  I put it in 1/2-3/4 c. pyrex bowls, color it as desired, and stick in small plastic knives (they don’t fall out of the tiny bowls as easily.)  I put out lots of sprinkles and such to use for decorating.  Toothpicks help align things in tiny areas.  This year I added little squeeze bottles made for decorating cupcakes and cookies so we could add finer details, but decorator bags would work, too.

Frosting for Sugar Cookies

  • 1 Earth Balance buttery stick (1/2 c.), softened (I never have patience to wait ~ and nuke it for 10-15 seconds)
  • 4 c. powdered sugar (use evaporated cane juice crystals powdered version to be completely vegan)
  • 1/3 c. non-dairy vanilla or plain milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a deep 1 quart bowl (or larger) and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until no powdery sugar remains that can blow up into your face when you turn the mixer on high.  Scrape bowl.  Beat at high speed until smooth and creamy.

Divide into smaller bowls, mix in a few drops of food coloring, and decorate away!

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This shows some of the aftermath of the decorating this year with an empty bowl of green frosting next to sprinkles and cookies.  These an out-of-town friend of my son’s decorated.  It was so much fun!

Peanut Butter Fudge (or other nut butter)

PB Fudge

 

 

(Shown with a piece of chocolate-nut fudge in the glow of the setting sun streaming in my dining room window.)

 

If you or someone you know has allergies to peanut butter, don’t despair and turn away from this fudge!  I have successfully made it substituting either natural almond butter or sunflower seed butter.  I would imagine any natural nut butter would work, although cashew butter is pretty thick…you might have to decrease the powdered sugar for that one.

Peanut Butter Fudge

  • 1/4 c. (1/2 a stick) Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/3 c. non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (optional, depending on if your nut butter is unsalted or not)
  • 1 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1 lb. (approximately 4 c.) powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

Have ready a 5″x9″, 8″x8″, or 10″x6″ pan, preferably glass, as the fudge doesn’t stick to it ~ or double the recipe and use a 9″x13″ cake pan, or a smaller lasagna pan.  Different pans will make thicker or thinner pieces of fudge.  If you must use a metal pan, you might want to line it clear up the sides with waxed or parchment paper so that you can just lift it out of the pan to cut it, especially if it has a non-stick coating that you don’t want to mar with the knife.

Three Fudges Preparation 005In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk and salt.  Stir in the powdered sugar until everything looks creamy and runny.  Now add the peanut butter.  (TRUST me on this – it does NOT work to add the peanut butter to the melted “butter” before the powdered sugar, even though every intuition in my mind says differently.  You will end up with a thick, streaky mess that you have to work long and hard to fix.) Continue mixing until everything is smooth.

You must press this into a prepared pan (you may need to use your hands to do this) so that it is not crumbly with air pockets later.  Cool and then cut.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container to keep it from drying out.

Chocolate (Nut) Fudge

In my family, there is a “battle” that rages over nuts vs. no nuts in chocolate fudge (and chocolate chip cookies, for that matter.)  However, since I am the cook, the default version of chocolate fudge out of my kitchen contains walnuts.  (My daughter, the texture queen, omits them from her kitchen.)  Nuts add a small measure of health to a not-particularly-healthy food, and besides…I prefer the taste and texture of the fudge with them.  😉  To be honest, nobody has refused to eat it with the nuts yet.  (Although, I believe there has been some surreptitious trading of chocolate vs. peanut butter fudge going on from Christmas stockings in the past.)

This particular recipe I have been making for 12 years.  I have the date at the bottom of the page I printed off those many years ago.  Honestly, it feels like it should be longer than that!  What did I do for fudge before then?  The webpage address was no longer correct, but I did find the original after some searching.  I want to give credit where it is due.  I have written things differently and changed the amount of nuts used.  Here is the link to the original on VegWeb:  Easy Fudge

Update:  Since I wanted to make this fudge while visiting my son, which happened to be over Valentine’s Day, I discovered something.  You don’t have to use a double boiler or a bowl set on top of a pan of boiling water!  You can melt the “butter” in the microwave (carefully!) and then stir in the soymilk.  Heat it for a few more seconds.  Stir in the vanilla and then the dry ingredients.  SO easy!  No more double boiler for me!

Chocolate Fudge

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1+ tsp. vanilla (you can’t go wrong with extra!)
  • 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk vanilla soy)
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder, sifted (use a small wire mesh strainer if you don’t own a sifter)
  • 3 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts (oh, all right…optional)

Have ready a 5″x9″, or 8″x8″, or even a somewhat smaller pan, preferably glass or ceramic, as the fudge doesn’t stick to it ~ or double the recipe and use a 9″x13″ cake pan, or a smaller lasagna pan.  Different pans will make thicker or thinner pieces of fudge.  If you must use a metal pan, you might want to line it clear up the sides with waxed or parchment paper so that you can just lift it out of the pan to cut it, especially if it has a non-stick coating that you don’t want to mar with the knife.

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk and vanilla.  Stir in the cocoa powder, followed by the powdered sugar, stirring until smooth.  Add nuts; stir until well distributed.  Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you do so before it firms up completely.)  Must be refrigerated.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.

Don’t forget to call your children or grandchildren to lick off the spoon, spatula, and bowl…and I promise I won’t tell if you call them so very, very quietly that you end up taking care of the job yourself!  😉

Three Fudge Recipes

Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy!  The holidays are coming and that means it’s time to start pulling out the special recipes.  (And, apparently, it’s also time to start learning the settings on my son’s camera a little better so that my photos have consistent lighting!  Sorry about that.)

Some of you may have given up fudge when you became vegan.  Well, guess what?  I’m here to change that for you!  Plus, this year since I’m writing a vegan food blog, I decided that I might need to branch out a little ~ you know, try a few new flavors of fudge other than my standards of chocolate and peanut butter.  (Funny…my family didn’t complain one bit about being guinea pigs for these experiments!  😀  Now you get the fun results of our taste testing.)  The bonus is that these are super easy to make.

Please keep in mind that though this is vegan it is by NO MEANS healthy, every-day food, and it certainly isn’t on Forks Over Knives’ list of what to include in their next cookbook.  It just means that you get to have some fun food on the goody table at your next party so that you aren’t tempted to partake of the even less healthy versions that contain animal products and trans fats.

Let me know what your favorite is!  There are divided opinions in my family for their favorites.  (Chocolate and peanut butter recipes will be coming soon, too.)

Have ready a 5″x9″, or 8″x8″, or even a somewhat smaller pan (pictured is what I used this time), preferably glass or ceramic, as the fudge doesn’t stick to it ~ or double the recipe and use a 9″x13″ cake pan, or a smaller lasagna pan.  Different pans will make thicker or thinner pieces of fudge.  If you must use a metal pan, you might want to line it clear up the sides with waxed or parchment paper so that you can just lift it out of the pan to cut it, especially if it has a non-stick coating that you don’t want to mar with the knife.

Maple Nut Fudge

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1+ tsp. vanilla (you can’t go wrong with extra!)
  • 1 T. non-dairy milk powder (or however much your brand calls for to make 1 c. of milk – I used Better Than Milk soy)
  • 4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the maple syrup, vanilla, and non-dairy milk powder, whisking until all of the milk powder is dissolved.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth.  Add nuts; stir until well distributed.  Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you do so before it firms up completely.)  Must be refrigerated.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.

Please allow the child within you to clean off the spoon, spatula, and bowl ~ you wouldn’t want any to go to waste would you?  😉

Eggnog Fudge

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk vanilla soy)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. brandy extract/flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp. rum extract/flavoring
  • 3/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 4 1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk, extracts/flavorings, and nutmeg, stirring to combine.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you do so before it firms up completely.)  Must be refrigerated.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.

Raspberry Fudge

This particular fudge isn’t as perfected as the other two.  It’s texture tends to be difficult to cut once it’s cold and it wants to break into shards or funny-shaped hunks.  I almost removed it from the post, but decided to include it anyway because it tastes so good.  The next time I make it, I will probably spread it out on waxed paper on a very small cookie sheet – then I will just pull up the paper and break the fudge, rather than cutting it, which seems to cause the problems.  The other option is to add extra Earth Balance to soften it some.

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. raspberry syrup (I used Monin brand that I found at a Home Goods Store)
  • 1 T. non-dairy milk powder (or however much your brand calls for to make 1 c. of milk – I used Better Than Milk soy)
  • 3 T. red food coloring (optional)
  • 4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk, vanilla, raspberry syrup, and food coloring, if using, whisking until all of the milk powder is dissolved.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you don’t refrigerate it first.)  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.  Refrigerate.  Soften on the counter for 30 minutes or so before serving since it tends to be a better texture and not so crumbly then.