Muddy Buddies from the Dark Side

Crisp cereal and dark chocolate combine for a  tasty treat.

darkside muddy buddies

Muddy Buddies from the Dark Side…of chocolate, that is. I love dark, dark chocolate–like bitter chocolate.  I think 85% chocolate is about perfect.  I have been known to eat 100% bitter chocolate. You might think I am crazy, but I love the taste.  Maybe it is just my inner-self, healthy-wanna-be calling out to avoid sugar that inspires me to like bitter chocolate; but whatever it is, I like it.

My 12-year-old learned how to make muddy buddies at school and wanted to make them for us at home.  If somebody is willing to make you food, you say “Yes!”  My son shares my love of dark chocolate.  In order to make these less sweet and more dark chocolaty, we substituted half the powdered sugar for cocoa powder. It is divine.

One of the things I’m looking for when I share a dairy-free recipe is availability of ingredients.  Non-dairy butters are sometimes hard to find or expensive.  I hate being limited to one ingredient, so we made it again, trying four different oil products in the same recipe. Then, I did a blind taste test with the family to see if they could tell a difference and see what was their favorite.  Here are the different oils:  Nucoa buttery sticks, peanut butter oil, refined coconut oil, and canola oil. You can read about some of the fat options to replacing butter here, Replacing Butter.

nucoa muddy buddies

Nucoa is typically what I use as a butter substitute.  The muddy buddies are a little drier and less clumped than the other ones.  Any flavoring in the margarine doesn’t stand out  under all the chocolate.

peanut oil muddy buddy

I used peanut butter oil by skimming some oil from the top of my natural peanut butter (the kind where you stir in the oil before you refrigerate and use).  I thought this one would give the finished muddy buddies a richer peanut taste.  I love peanut butter, so I thought this would be my favorite. However, it didn’t taste any more or less peanut buttery than the other versions.

-coconut oil muddy buddy

I used refined coconut oil (coconut oil that doesn’t taste like coconut.) This turned out wetter than all the other ones, but I might have left out some of the cocoa and powdered sugar. By the time I got to the coconut oil, I had a few extra helpers mostly under the age of 6. The coconut oil had the richest flavor.  Laying them on a flat surface to cool (like the recipe stated) would have reduced the clumps.

canola oil muddy buddies

The canola oil ones mixed up great.  I was worried about using canola oil in the recipe because canola oil doesn’t turn solid or at least semi-solid (like the peanut butter oil) when chilled.  The finished product wasn’t as dry as the Nucoa and peanut butter oil versions, but it chilled well and wasn’t sticky or gooey.  Like the coconut oil version, I would suggest you let it cool in a single layer instead skipping that step like I did.

 The winner?  We couldn’t tell any difference in taste other than the coconut oil being a bit richer.  My hubby liked the coconut oil and canola oil ones best. He preferred the less-powdery coating–most of the powdered sugar and cocoa seemed to be absorbed into the chocolate mixture.  I was super excited by the results; you can use most any oil products in this recipe and have it turn out great.  However, I would avoid any buttery spreads with a high water content.  I am not sure if they would mix well with the melted chocolate and you would probably end up with a soggy cereal. Soggy cereal is definitely not your buddy.

Dark Chocolate Muddy Buddies

9 cups corn and/or rice square cereal (Chex or store-brand)

1 cup chocolate chips (Guittard extra dark is my favorite and has no dairy, soy, or gluten)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup oil or margarine of your choice

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

Measure cereal into large bowl.  Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and oil in a microwave-safe bowl (stirring every 30 seconds).  Pour melted mixture on cereal, stirring cereal to coat it evenly.  If you are lucky and your large bowl has a tight-fitting lid, you can put your cocoa powder and powdered sugar in the bowl and shake it to coat the cereal.  Or, put your powdered sugar and cocoa powder in an extra large zip-lock bag and mix.  Then, add your chocolate-coated cereal.  Close the bag and shake.  If they are still too wet looking, you can add a little bit more powdered sugar and cocoa powder to the bag and shake some more.

Spread the chocolate-coated cereal pieces onto wax paper to cool.  Once cool, transfer to an air-tight container and store in the fridge.

*If you love salted chocolate, try sprinkling a little salt on the cereal while cooling.
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