I am all for the organic food movement. I shop local when I can. I love going to the farmers market and actually meeting the people who grew my food. I make special trips, way out of my way, to buy meat that I know was humanely raised. And I try to limit processed foods in my diet.
All that being said, there is absolutely a place in my life for Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal.
Growing up I enjoyed all the classics, Fruit Loops, Cocoa Pebbles, Apple Jacks, etc. but the only sugary cereal that remains in my diet is Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal (though I do enjoy the very occasional Frosted Mini Wheat).
As I was trying to decide what do make for dessert for my friends last weekend, I came across a recipe for cereal milk custard in David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook. However, he used Cornflakes to make his cereal milk. I have never been a fan of flake type cereals. When my parents would buy me the cereal variety mix when I was little I would eat (and enjoy) most all of them. But the Special K and the Raisin Bran? No thank you. Too squishy.
So, I figured, why not just use the cereal I enjoy the most.
I used the recipe for Perfect Panna Cotta from David Lebovitz but added the additional cereal soaking step as described in the Momofuku cookbook.
Panna Cotta is great for a dinner party because it can be made a couple of days in advance (leaving you to concentrate on the rest of your meal).
Per the instructions in the Momofuku cookbook, I spread out my cereal on a sheet pan and toasted it in the oven for 12 minutes.
Once it had cooled a bit, I put it into large bowl and poured the cream over the top.
I let the mixture steep for 45 minutes (stirring it a couple of times) and them drained it, squishing the cereal so as much cream as possible would come out.
This left me with about 4 1/2 cups of delicious cereal infused cream. And I not going to confirm that I ate some of that cream-soaked cereal, but if I did, it was delicious.
From here I just followed David Lebovitz’s instructions. Warm the cream to dissolve the sugar.
Bloom the gelatin.
Stir the gelatin into the warm cream, stirring until it disolves, then divide the mixture between the serving dishes (my glasses are just the right size to fit into a muffin tin which makes them easier to move en masse).
Lastly, into the fridge.
I like to leave them uncovered until they cool. Otherwise steam collects on the plastic wrap then drips back onto the top (not tasty). However, once they have cooled, be sure to cover them if they will be stored for long (otherwise they develop a nasty skin).
Now, of course, this panna cotta would be enough dessert for most people. But, because I am an over achiever, and because this would be topping of what I hoped would be an extravagant meal, I decided I needed more.
Since chocolate and peanut butter are BFFs I decided a chocolate something was the way to go. I turned to Twitter and asked if anyone had a crispy chocolate cookie recipe that they loved. Jeanne (@fourchickens on Twitter) told me that she did and pointed me to the Oreo cookie recipe on her blog The Art of Gluten-Free Baking. I made them following her instructions exactly (well, other then substituting gluten flour for the non-gluten flour mix the recipe calls for). I also skipped the filling since all I wanted was the crispy cookie part.
Lastly, I wanted something really crispy on the plate. Like a spun sugar something or other. In my brain, this turned into peanut brittle which then turned into the star of the evening, Peanut Butter Cereal Brittle.
I used a pretty standard peanut brittle recipe that I found on AllRecipes.com but rather than cooking the peanuts in the sugar solution …
… I stirred the cereal in as soon as the candy thermometer hit 300 degrees. Then I stirred like a mad women and spread it out as fast as I could before it set up.
I wish I had more pictures, but if you have ever made candy, you know it is a quick process, not really a, let me pause for a minute to shoot a picture, process.
This might have been prettier if I had unmolded the panna cotta onto the plate, but I’m lazy (yes, the person who made a five course dinner for her friends just called herself lazy), so this is the best I could do. Plus, it ate the same either way (and I certainly didn’t hear any complaints).
I loved, loved, loved the panna cotta (and the cocolate cookies were pretty darn good too), but I have to say that the cereal brittle was the true hit of the dessert. If you only make one thing, make the brittle. So, so good.
CAP’N CRUNCH PEANUT BUTTER CEREAL PANNA COTTA
adapted from recipes by David Lebovitz and David Chang
Half and half can be substituted for all or part of the heavy cream if you want to save a few calories. However, you shouldn’t be eating this every night anyway, so a little splurge probably won’t kill you.
6 cups Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal
6 cups heavy cream (or half-and-half)
1/3 cup sugar
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons cold water
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread out the cereal in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast the cereal for 12 minutes. Let cool a bit then place cereal in a large bowl and pour cream over the top of it. Let it sit for 45 minutes, stirring one or twice.
Strain the cream through a chinois or sieve, pressing on the cereal to get as much of the cream out of the cereal as possible. You should end up with about 4 1/2 cups total. Discard the cereal.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it bloom for 5-10 minutes,
Meanwhile, heat the cream and the sugar in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved (it should be very warm) then remove it from the heat. Add the gelatin to the cream and stir it until the gelatin is dissolved.
Divide the cream mixture between eight serving glasses or bowls. Place in refrigerator and chill until firm, 2-4 hours. Once cool and set, cover the panna cotta with plastic wrap until ready to eat.
CAP’N CRUNCH PEANUT BUTTER CEREAL BRITTLE
makes about a pound
Store the finished brittle in an airtight container and it will stay crunchy for several days.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Measure out the butter, baking soda and cereal and have them standing by.
In a heavy 2-quart saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and water. Boil over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter and baking soda, followed quickly by the cereal.
Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and quickly press it into a single layer using a rubber
spatula. Let cool completely then break into pieces.