Yesterday we found out the gender of our 2nd baby! We are having a small party tomorrow to announce the gender to our family. We did a gender reveal party when I was pregnant with my son and I couldn’t resist another chance to hold my family in suspense. A post about the party (which is this week’s challenge!) will come on Sunday as I don’t want to leak any details to my family ahead of time.
We are catering in the dinner, but I am going to make some gender-themed desserts for our family to enjoy. For this week’s “Food Friday” my plan was to make candy dipped Rice Krispies Treats on a stick. I was inspired by the beautiful work of Jenny Keller over at Jenny Cookies.
And like most of my challenges, I hit a road block straight out of the gate. Kelloggs does not make gluten-free Rice Krispies anymore!! After running back and forth from the cereal aisle to the organic/gluten-free aisle several times in complete desperation, I finally (angrily) googled “DO GLUTEN FREE RICE KRISPIES STILL EXIST?”. Allegedly due to poor sales, they had to discontinue making them and in doing so, they struck another blow to the gluten-free, sweets loving community.
I’ve had to be gluten-free for over 8 years and I’ve been telling everyone who casts pity on me that “we’ve been living in the golden age of being gluten-free” for the last few years and I’m not kidding! When I first started my GF journey, there was very, very little on the market. Gluten-free Rice Krispies used to seem like an absolute impossibility and if I wanted anything like it, I’d have to mix some melted marshmallows with 1 of the 2 or 3 widely available GF cereals on the market (Barbara’s Puffins, Arrowhead Mills Flakes, Envirokids). Usually you could only find GF cereal at places like Whole Foods and they’d cost $4.99/ box or more. Now, thanks to the surging popularity of being gluten-free in the mainstream, I could eat a new gluten-free cereal every day of the week and pay normal prices for them. General Mills, Kelloggs and Post all have GF options. Again I say: GOLDEN AGE!
So, in lieu of Rice Krispies, I chose Cheerios. I know, I know.. amongst GF peeps this is a controversial choice. It’s a long story, but Cheerios has had some epic fails with their release of gluten-free Cheerios and the reliability of their “Gluten Free” label has been questionable. Since their first recall and subsequent changes, I haven’t had any issues with their product. To be honest, if I wasn’t already making Chex Mix for the party, I would have used Chex. However, I needed another cereal and Cheerios was my choice because of its size. As much as I would love to join with my fellow GF warriors in protest, I’ve been okay eating them and I have loved having Cheerios back in my life. And no, this isn’t an #ad.. If I get “glutenized” I will certainly put them on blast.
Okay.. okay.. controversies and intestinal distress problems aside, let’s get on to the recipe! I know I’m not reinventing the wheel with this one, but adding the candy dipping element adds a bit of difficulty for me along with creating a cool display method.
First, I made the “Cheerios Treats” with the microwave method instead of the stovetop method. As my personal sensei Sweet Brown would say : “Ain’t nobody got time for THAT”.
Melt 3tbs Butter and 10oz Mini-Marshmallows together by microwaving them on high in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 minutes, stirring it and then microwaving for 1 minute more.
Stir 6 cups of Cheerios into the marshmallow mixture until all the Cheerios are well-coated. Dump out the ginormous mass of stickiness out onto a sheet of wax paper and use whatever it takes* to spread out into an even layer about 1.5in thick. Attempt to square the corners.
* My spatula stuck horribly to the sticky mass. I tried using wax paper as a barrier between me and my fingers and that didn’t work as it also stuck miserably.. so I decided to lube up my hands with some butter and it worked great!! Paula Deen and Kramer would be so proud of me!
While you are waiting for the Cheerios Treats mass to cool, take a moment to think about how happy you are that you don’t have to clean stuck-on, hardened marshmallow out of a large saucepan.
The layer of Cheerios treats needs to cool before you start cutting it and spearing it with sticks, so in the meantime…
While you are waiting for cooling to occur, start the process of prepping the candy coating station for dipping your treats. I grabbed 4 bowls – 2 will be for the candy coating dipping (1 for each color) and the other two would contain my colored sprinkles (1 pink bowl, 1 blue bowl). At this time, also gather some food coloring, a knife and some popsicle sticks.
Once the Cheerios treats are cool, cut them into equally shaped rectangles (I shot for 3in x 2in). When the rectangles look the way you want, go ahead and spear them with your popsicle sticks. My batch of Cheerios treats yielded 20 pops.
Now the fun really begins because it’s time to start dipping these bad boys*! Again, we are bypassing the stove-top method and using the microwave, but this will take a little more finesse than the Cheerios treats as its much easier to burn almond bark and every microwave is different. My almond bark came packaged in 12 nuggets. I decided to throw 5 of the nuggets into a bowl to see how much liquidy candy it would yield for one of my dipping colors. I figured if that was enough, I could melt 5 more for my other color.
*gender joke not intended. You could also call them bad girls.
Place the almond bark nuggets in a microwave safe bowl and follow the directions on your almond bark package. I had researched “how to melt almond bark” online and some recipes suggested using your microwave at 50% power for short 15 second intervals to ensure no burning occurs. After staring at my microwave for what felt like 10 minutes, I could not figure out how to adjust the power to 50%. I’m sure microwave manufacturers are now hiding this irrelevant feature from dum-dums like me. So, I went with what the package of almond bark said: microwave 1 minute on high, stir, give it another whirl for 30 second intervals until its melted perfectly. It was the kind of throw-caution-to-the-wind directions I like to embrace. Again I invoke Sweet Brown: Ain’t nobody got time to do anything at 50% power.
Once melted, I added food coloring to achieve the perfect tint of baby blue.
I dipped the Cheerios pops into the blue coloring and didn’t love the look, so I needed to use a spoon to cake on some additional candy. I sprinkled them with sprinkles and laid them flat to dry (prettiest side up).
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking… they kind of look haphazard and messy. You’re absolutely right. See what happened is.. my son broke our little daily agreement. I agree to look past several behavioral outbursts throughout the day if he agrees to nap for 2+ hours every afternoon to grant me the mental respite I need. However on this day, he chose NOT to hold up our deal. Donald Trump would be very upset with the deal I negotiated because after I looked past a full day of terrible twos hijinks, he only slept for 45 freaking minutes! Therefore, I dipped these bad girls* as quickly as I possibly could and spoon fed my son as much leftover melted candy as I could to keep him away from my work.
*Note how I am fully embracing gender equality.
I quickly repeated this whole process with pink food coloring and finally I was done!
Dipped Cheerios Treats for a Gender Reveal Party
- Serves: 20 people could have 1, 10 people could have 2, Pregnant people could have half a batch.
- Serving Size: One bar, dipped.
- Total Time to Complete: 45 minutes (without interruptions)
- 6 cups Cheerios
- 10 oz bag of Mini- Marshmallows
- 3 tbs butter
- Almond bark
- Popsicle sticks
- Colored Sprinkles
- Extra butter for hand lubrication
- Melt 3tbs Butter and 10oz Mini-Marshmallows together by microwaving them on high in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 minutes, stirring it and then microwaving for 1 minute more
- Stir in 6 cups of Cheerios until well coated.
- Dump sticky Cheerios mass onto wax paper on the counter or into a 9X13 pan and form into a very large rectangle about 1.5-2 inches thick (this is where the hand lubrication is essential)
- Once cooled, cut 20 equal smaller rectangle pieces from the mass and spear each with a popsicle stick of your choosing.
- Melt almond bark in your microwave as directed on the package.
- Add food coloring to create whatever color you’d fancy.
- Dip the Cheerios pops into the colored candy and use a spoon or a knife to achieve the level of coating you desire.
- Before you set down the pop to cool, sprinkle with whatever color sprinkles you’d like.
- Let cool on a flat surface with the prettiest side up.
- Set out for your party guests or seal in an air-tight container until they arrive.
More photos to come when the party is done and I can photograph how I displayed the Cheerios Treats Pops! I’ll also let you know what kind of feedback I regarding my dipping skills..