Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ghost Bites (aka Muddy Buddies), a Halloween Snack

Regardless of exactly how you make it, or what you call it, chocolate-peanut butter-powdered sugar covered cereal is pretty addictive--and super quick to make. I don't think I've ever spent more than about 15 minutes from start to finish (though it does take me longer when I go the route of stove-top melting the chocolate, peanut butter, and butter). When I lived in the Midwest, I could reliably bring this to parties and people would gobble it down--and tell me their puppy chow (that's what they all seemed to call it) memories.

This snack is easy to make vegan* and gluten-free**.

I've heard it called:
Muddy Buddies ("technically" the Crispix recipe)
Puppy Chow (this is the recipe on the side of the Rice Chex box)
White Trash (though this is made with white chocolate about as often and often has actual peanuts and sometimes mini-pretzels as well)

Ah, the joys of living all over the country and hearing colloquialisms.

In honor of Halloween, I'm dubbing it Ghost-Bites. I also took these to a movie night where we watched a scary movie and Ghost-Bites seemed a bit more in the spirit of the evening. We watched a supposed comedy, Super, which turned out to be not so much of a comedy in the laugh-out-loud or even dark humor sort of way, but a comedy in the variety of "I laugh at gratuitous violence and at the mentally ill." To keep my review short and avoid spoilers, I doubt people will see this movie and think, "Hm, I should become a superhero." At the end of the movie night, I think all seven of us felt pretty uncomfortable. E and I went home to watch a couple episodes of Coupling to help erase the images of Super.

But back to Ghost Bites (which, I was surprised, were new to several of the movie-night attendees).

If I'd thought about it early enough, I probably would have dyed my powdered sugar orange (and really, it's not too late. I have more of all the ingredients and so I might make a small batch, just to post here).

I seem to use a little less sugar than any of the recipes I've seen -- which call from anywhere between 1 bag of powdered sugar (so much waste!) to 3 cups to 1.5 cups (Chex). I use about a cup.

I tend to mix this in a paper grocery sack, because I always seem to have extra, and because it absorbs a little of the extra grease. For the same reason, I let the Ghost Bites cool on a paper grocery sack that I've cut down the sides to increase the surface area that lies flat on the counter top and let it cool several hours (preferably overnight when I don't need my kitchen counters).

A note on peanut butter: I personally like using freshly ground peanut butter, which isn't quite as smooth as some natural peanut butters, but is smooth enough. You could use chunky peanut butter, I suppose, if that's all you've got, but I would recommend a smoother version just because it makes coating the cereal a little easier.

Ghost Bites
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (you can also use vegan chocolates if you're making a vegan version)
1/2 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1/4 cup butter (or vegan margarine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
9 cups rice or corn (or a combo) Chex
1 cup powdered sugar

In a saucepan, over low heat, melt together the chocolate, peanut butter, and butter, stirring often so you don't scorch the chocolate. As an alternative, you can microwave these ingredients in a microwave safe bowl on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir and microwave for another 30 seconds, if necessary. Stir in the vanilla.

In a separate, large bowl, measure 9(ish) cups of cereal. Pour the chocolate-peanut butter mixture over the cereal and stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated.

In a large paper grocery sack, or in a sealable 2-gallon plastic food storage bag, measure your powdered sugar. Pour in the chocolate-coated cereal, close the bag, and shake until the cereal is well coated. Spread out on a cookie sheet (or another paper grocery sack slit in half) to cool. Store in an air-tight container.

*If you're making this vegan, be sure to check with your vegan and make sure you're using a vegan powdered sugar (or see if they care), vegan chocolate, and vegan margarine.

Puppy Chow
**If you're making this gluten-free, be sure to check ingredient labels. Use certified GF products.

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