If you had a childhood, you probably encountered puppy chow at some point. That delicious, snowy, peanut butter and chocolatey mix that someone always brought to school functions and parties. Puppy Chow never lasted more than a day or two in my parents’ house as I was growing up – I’d eat it for breakfast (it’s cereal, right?), as my snack before lunch, my snack after lunch, my pre-dinner snack and my dessert. There’s always room in one’s tummy for puppy chow. Sure, I felt a bit sick after a binge, but as soon as the sickness subsided I’d reach for another frosted nugget. Momsie literally had to hide the chow from me a few times…
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a more mature palate and a deeper respect for real nutrition, but all of that goes out the window as soon as puppy chow comes into the room. Suddenly I’m 10 years old again with powdered sugar dappling my chin, standing in my parents’ kitchen in my pink jelly sandals, sneaking a handful of chow from Mom.
In reality, I’m 24 and sitting on my couch at 10:30 pm on a Tuesday night, trying to hold onto the feeling of youth in my mouth instead of thinking about work the next morning.
I need those little things, like puppy chow, to take me back for a moment. Puppy chow isn’t just a sweet snack, it’s a symbol of childhood for me. A tasty link to the times when taxes were just an obscure problem that grown-ups complained about and summer vacations were a real thing. I still eat puppy chow for breakfast sometimes, and for my pre-lunch snack and post-lunch snack at work. I have no shame in dappling my desk with puffs of powdered sugar, a little reminder that I’m still allowed to be an Adult-In-Progress…
Making puppy chow is stupid kinds of easy. Take Chex cereal (I’ve been using Rice Chex because I’m about that gluten-free life) and cover it in a melted mixture of peanut butter, chocolate chips and butter (or in my case, vegan butter substitute, because I’m also all about that lactose intolerant life). Pour the melted goodness over the chex and toss it like you would a salad – gently, as chex are sensitive things.
Scoop a shit ton of powdered sugar into a plastic gallon bag and add the coated chex to it – I usually do it in two stages so that there’s a little extra room in the bag to shake everything around. Shake the bag to your heart’s content, making sure to get each chex coated with powdered sugar. I like my puppy chow pretty snowy, but if you prefer yours to be a little muddier with less powdered sugar, go for it. Lastly, lay the chow out on a parchment paper-lined sheet tray and let it cool. If you store the puppy chow immediately, the slight amount of heat from the coated cereal is enough to melt the powdered sugar and make its snowy appearance disappear.
Recipe for Puppy Chow:
9 cups Rice Chex
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter (or vegan butter substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 gallon plastic bag
Place chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, mixing afterward and repeating until the mixture is fully melted and smooth. Place chex in a large mixing bowl and pour melted mixture over cereal. Gently mix the cereal around until each chex is fully coated. Pour powdered sugar into plastic gallon bag and add the coated cereal. Shake bag of cereal until cereal is fully coated with powdered sugar. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and lay finished puppy chow over it evenly. Allow puppy chow to cool fully before storing.