Monday, April 11, 2016

No-Bake Caramel Cheerio Bites

General Mills has new cereals - well, they're old favorite cereals, only better, with no artificial colors or flavors. Our challenge: Come up with new and delicious ways to use the cereals. I was drawn to the Chocolate Cheerios, and tasted them. I noticed the crunch immediately, of course - but then also a mild oaty chocolate flavor. Hm, what could I do with these?

After several false starts, I produced this simple variation on never-fail caramels. I pour the hot caramel mixture over the cereal in a prepared pan, so there's no time to soften or become soggy. These no-bake caramel bites have a pleasing crunch, and the chocolate adds depth to their flavor. Stir some up today!

No-Bake Caramel Cheerio Bites
by Maurita Plouff blogging at Get the Good Stuff!
Makes about 2 1/2 pounds caramels

2 to 3 cups Chocolate Cheerios
1 cup (2 sticks, or 1/2 pound) salted butter
2 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed (I used a combination of dark and light brown)
1 cup Karo light corn syrup
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with aluminum foil or crossed strips of parchment paper. Allow edges to hang over sides of pan. Liberally butter the foil or parchment. Put 2 to 3 cups of Chocolate Cheerios in the pan, shaking them so they form an even layer about three-quarters of an inch thick.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk. Cover loosely with parchment paper. Microwave on high for 4 or 5 minutes*, until the butter starts to melt. Whisk to blend.

Cover again, and microwave on high for 4 or 5* minutes more. Whisk well.

Cover again, and microwave on high a third and final time, for the same 4 or 5 minutes*. Remove parchment cover, take bowl from microwave, and set on a stable surface. Add vanilla - expect that the mixture will bubble fiercely - and whisk gently until thoroughly blended.

Pour caramel mixture over the Cheerios in the prepared pan. Chill for 1 to 3 hours or until just firm.

Using the foil or parchment that lined the pan, lift the entire block of caramel from the pan. Use a buttered knife to cut caramel into 1-inch squares. Wrap individually in waxed paper or place in paper candy cups. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 pounds of caramel bites.

*NOTE ON TIMING: Microwave ovens vary; use the 4-minute timings for higher wattage microwave ovens (1100-1200 watts) and 5 minute timings for lower wattage ovens. Be careful handling the bowl full of hot caramel: Use potholders or oven mitts.

*NOTE ON QUANTITY: Of course you could cut the recipe in half - if you do, use a smaller pan - 5 by 8 would work well.

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