Thursday, October 29, 2015

Old-School Cocoa Puff Bars

Once upon a time, I was a student at a very large Mennonite high school.  Later I was a teacher at this same school.  I ate in the cafeteria and those cooks did a pretty good job, better than other school cafeterias I've eaten in (but not as good as Mennonites at home).

They served a dessert called cocoa puff bars and I loved them. I can't actually now recall which lunch the bars went with, although I have never forgotten the green beans with the mac and cheese, the flabby pizza, and hot sauce with the Vietnam fried rice.

I remembered those bars a month or so ago and suddenly realized: I could make them!  And eat them again!  But alas, a Google search showed me that there are several versions of cocoa puff bars around (one, oddly, with a ganache topping; these are cocoa puffs, people, and they are not gourmet).

So I emailed the head cook of this Mennonite school, and she sent me the bulk recipe in pounds.  She said she had to hunt for it in an old file, which makes it sound like cocoa puff bars are no longer on the menu and I feel sorry for the current students.

They are super-simple to make and the cocoa puffs give a delicious crunch in the rich peanut-buttery goo.  If you can ignore the questionable nature of the puffs (what, exactly, are they?), these bars are wonderful.

I've made these bars twice now, and both times I finished the box by dumping the cocoa puffs into a finished batch of chocolate buckwheat granola with a fierce ironic glee. Health food: meet strange food!  Wheeee!

Cocoa Puff Bars, the old-school Mennonite version

Heat together (I do this in a large pot):
1/3 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey

Stir to melt.  Turn off heat and add:
1 cup chocolate chips

Stir again.  Fold in:
7 cups cocoa puffs

Press and smooth mixture gently into lightly greased 9x13 pan. Cover. Cool to room temperature. Cut into bars.


Tammy said...

Sounds yummy! I dare substitute a "healthy" choc. puff cereal, or make this a real treat and just buy cocoa puffs. Hmmm.

Margo said...

huh. I never even thought to LOOK for a healthy cocoa puff cereal!! Is there such a thing?

jenny_o said...

Sounds exactly like one more chocolate recipe I DARE NOT MAKE! Something like the peanut butter/butter/marshmallow/butterscotch chip squares that I dare not make.

Love your line "... with a fierce, ironic glee ..." - funny!

jenny_o said...

Just realized my squares don't even have chocolate in them. But ANY rich recipe is something I need to stay away from!

jenny_o said...

I've just re-read my comments from last night and, after laughing a bit I thought, oh my, I sound critical! I hope you guessed I was lecturing MYSELF. I've put on five pounds lately, and the culprits include chocolate :(

Becky said...

I miss the Chicken Corn Soup the PA Dutch ladies used to make in my Catholic school for lunch!
I say, everything in moderation, including moderation. The peanut butter and honey makes these healthy!

Rebecca said...

Yes! You can get big bags of the organic (I think even GF!) version of cocoa puffs.

I think the honey/peanut butter is an adorably necessary fixture in "healthy" 70s desserts.

Meghan said...

This is completely off topic, but I read this article about a cookbook book club and immediately thought it sounded right up your alley. If you try it, I hope you'll write about it.

Sarah said...

I just had to let you know that I made your cocoa puff bars this week and they were a big hit with my husband, mom and sister (oh, and me too!). Your recipe has already been passed on twice. : ) Thank you for sharing!