Quick and easy cereal treats

Oct 2, 2008 at 10:50 a.m. ET

Cereal has been named America's favorite breakfast - not a surprise considering the available variety and its tasty versatility. Not only can cereal be served hot and cold, with milk or without, and adorned with an ever-changing variety of fruit and nuts, it is also available in a tasty array of grains, shapes, colors and flavors. Here are some sweet recipes featuring this quintessential breakfast dish.

Variety of Cereal

Cereal is a universally preferred breakfast

Cereal is loved equally by kids and adults. Even babies often start out with a single grain cereal for their first food after breastmilk or formula. Children enjoy the many tastes and the occasional toys found in the bottom of the box of some kid-centric cereals. Cereal companies are even promoting it as a way to lose weight as an adult.

Cereal's versatility goes beyond breakfast

Cooking with cereal has become a fad in some households. No longer just for breakfast, yummy cookbooks, like The Breakfast Cereal Gourmet by David Hoffman, dish out delicious recipes for gourmet meals made primarily with cereal.

A little cereal history

Cereal has not been around as long as other breakfast foods like eggs and bacon. It was first introduced in the late nineteenth century when the public was mainly eating a breakfast consisting of eggs, pork and beef. Consuming too much meat started causing gastrointestinal problems, and the need for more grains and fiber arose.

The first cereal was actually called granula and had to be soaked overnight to make it soft enough to consume the next morning. This is when John Harvey Kellogg and Charles William Post came up with their own renditions of cereal.

In fact, one of the most popular cereals to date was invented by accident when Kellogg left a pot of wheat boiling overnight. The next day he rolled the wheat flat. After it dried, the wheat flaked apart – and the cereal we know as Corn Flakes was invented. General Mills came along later, around 1924, and introduced the world to Wheaties.

Recipes for sweet cereal treats

Here a few no-bake treats that are fun to make with the kids and are sure to please the sweet tooth of all ages.

Peanut Butter Special K Bars

Makes about 40 bars

1 cup sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Special K or other flake cereal
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces butterscotch chips

1. In a large saucepan, bring sugar and corn syrup to a full boil. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, stirring to combine.

2. Add cereal to peanut butter mixture and mix well. Press mixture into a buttered 13X9-inch baking pan.

3. In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and butterscotch chips together. Spread evenly over cereal mixture and let partially cool. Cut into bars before mixture hardens.

Chocolate Almond Grape Nuts Banana Treat

Serves 1

1 banana
2 tablespoons almond butter*
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
3 tablespoons Grape Nuts

1. Slice banana into pieces. Lay at the bottom of a single serving bowl that can be put in the freezer. Spread almond butter across the top of banana slices.

2. Pour chocolate syrup over top. Sprinkle Grape Nuts over top of banana. Place banana treat in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving.

*If consistency is too thick to spread, warm almond butter slightly in the microwave. You can also use peanut butter in place of almond butter – natural peanut butters will be easier to spread.

Golden Grahams S'Mores Cookie Bars

Makes 24 cookie bars

* Taken from a vintage Golden Grahams box.

1 (12-ounce) package Golden Grahams cereal
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 (11.5-ounce) package chocolate morsels
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups miniature marshmallows

1. Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and pour Golden Grahams in a large mixing bowl.

2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat corn syrup, butter or margarine, and chocolate morsels to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.

3. Pour chocolate mixture over Golden Grahams and toss until coated. Fold in marshmallows, 1 cup at a time.

4. Press mixture in pan using the back of a buttered spoon. Let stand 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares. Store covered at room temperature up to 2 days.

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