I always get nostalgic when I see Halloween cereals hitting the shelves. I remember the ads for Count Chocola, Booberry and Frankenberry from my Saturday morning cartoon days all too well, so they really are part of the season – even if I don’t eat as much of them now as I did back then! These days, I’m always looking for something a little more interesting to do with these cereals. I want to play with them just as much as I want to eat them and, fortunately, they are actually great ingredients to work with. In the past, I’ve made Frankenberry Cereal Bars and Count Chocula Cereal Milk Ice Cream, and this year I created some very tasty Salted Dark Chocolate Count Chocula Candy Bars.
These bars actually fall somewhere between a chocolate bar and a granola bar, though they are definitely a bit closer to the decadent side of the spectrum because they have use a lot of chocolate and have a deep chocolate flavor. They may look like cereal bars at first glance, but the only marshmallows you’ll find in these are the ones that come in the cereal! The chocolate cereal gives them a great crunch – helped along by the addition of toasted almonds – and a light texture that is reminiscent of chocolate bars that use a lot of puffed rice for texture. Of course, I used Count Chocula, however you can use another puffed chocolate cereal to get similar results when the spooky seasonal cereal isn’t available.
I used both unsweetened chocolate and white chocolate in these bars, rather than using only dark chocolate, as the name might suggest. The unsweetened chocolate brings in a strong bittersweet cocoa note, while the white chocolate contributes a creamy sweetness and a hint of vanilla. White chocolate alone might be too sweet, but it really blends nicely with the unsweetened chocolate. The resulting chocolate coating has a hint of the creaminess of milk chocolate, but all the strong flavor of dark chocolate. Be sure to use high quality white chocolate that only contains real cocoa butter, nothing with other vegetable fats added. The finishing touch is a sprinkle of sea salt that makes all the flavors pop – and will have you coming back for another bite.
These bars keep very well when stored in an airtight container and should last for up to a week, if they don’t get eaten up first. I like to eat them as bars, however you can cut them into bite sized squares or even crumble up the mixture into small pieces for addition to a trail mix. It is important to let the bars sit out and cool/set completely at room temperature before they are stored, so leave time to prepare them in advance.
Salted Dark Chocolate Count Chocula Bars
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 oz white chocolate, chopped
3 oz toasted, slivered almonds
1 oz coarsely chopped graham crackers
1 oz Count Chocula Cereal (or other chocolate cereal)
coarse salt, for topping
Line a 9-inch pan with lightly greased aluminum foil or parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, combing butter and corn syrup and bring just to a boil. Stir in salt.
Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour hot butter mixture over it. Allow mixture to stand for 1 minute, then stir until very smooth. Add in almonds, graham crackers and cereal, stirring with a spatula until completely coated. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread into an even layer, pressing the layer down very firmly to ensure that the bars stick together once they have set. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of coarse salt.
Allow bars to sit, uncovered, at room temperature until they have completely set, at least 1-2 hours. When firm and set, use a sharp knife to cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 12-15 bars.