Cheerio Molasses Balls

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Cheerios were once a favorite food of the Jr Assistant Baker, but she has moved on to other cereals, leaving me with a super-huge Costco bag of the little round cereals.  Meanwhile, she is totally still too young for popcorn (sadness), which means too young for caramel corn and popcorn balls. This is almost tragic, as we approach Halloween.

But there is a solution, and it solves both problems!  The Betty Crocker Cooky Book (1963) is ready to help! They have a whole page full of cookie recipes made from General Mills cereals! (In addition to the whole *section* using GM cake mixes. Not kidding.)

These turned out to be really, really good. Like, I love popcorn, and they are better than popcorn balls. If you left out the nuts, they’d even be very-young-toddler-safe, if extremely sticky, and my pots and pans and toddler can attest that the sticky is totally water-soluble.  

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I did not have peanuts, so I pulled out some salted cashews and chopped them a little. I think the end result was not really affected, but I do think having salted nuts was important to the flavor. I’m not sure what you could use to make them nut-free—but for a kids’ party, you might just leave them out and not fret about it.

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You may note in the picture below that this is a small saucepan, and the thermometer doesn’t go very far into the molasses, sugar, water and vinegar mixture. Then, in the following picture, you may notice that, suddenly, the mixture is magically in my largest saucepan, and nearly filling the thing. Thanks to my Sr Sous Chef, who had the brilliant idea of heating the big pot to 250F in the oven, I did not boil the sugar syrup over while getting it to hard-ball stage, nor did I explode it all over the counter when I added *BAKING SODA TO VINEGAR* and it tripled in size. Use the big pot from the beginning, save time and trouble.

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The end result was quite satisfactory, and is vegan. They really mean it about the greased spoon and greased hands—forming it into patties or balls is *very* sticky work, but it does wash off easily, and hardens up quite a bit as it cools.

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