Cookie butter makes this 'puppy chow' recipe a nut-free snack

Cookie butter makes this ‘puppy chow’ recipe a nut-free snack

Cookie Butter Puppy Chow

Total time:30 mins

Servings:24 (makes about 12 cups)

Total time:30 mins

Servings:24 (makes about 12 cups)

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I was introduced to cookie butter well into adulthood, so I’m still making up for lost time. This creamy spread has the consistency of peanut butter but features ground cookies, specifically speculoos, a spiced treat popular in Europe.

Given the similarities, I’ve played around with subbing cookie butter for peanut butter in the past. It worked so well as a nut-free option in these Buckeye Bars, a slab riff on the Ohio specialty, that I wanted to repeat the success. At the top of the list of things I’ve been wanting to try: puppy chow.

Puppy chow is an unputdownable snack in which rice cereal squares are coated in a mix of peanut butter, chocolate and sometimes butter, before being tossed in confectioners’ sugar. (In this Taste piece by Naomi Tomky, you can read more about the name, which may be more about a prior connection to pet food manufacturer Ralston Purina than its kibble-like appearance.) The Midwestern favorite is also known as Muddy Buddies, the branded name of the recipe shared by Chex . It’s a favorite with eaters of all ages, whether it’s kids hankering for an after-school snack or grown-ups noshing at a party.

Trying cookie butter was more than just a novelty. It nudges this treat into nut-free territory, a common concern when it comes to kid-friendly snacks. Cookie butter is also vegan, so I lean into the concept by using vegan chocolate chips and swapping coconut oil in for the butter. My other additions to the formula: a little bit of cinnamon to enhance the spice of the cookie butter and an even smaller amount of salt for a subtle sweet-and-salty contrast that makes the puppy chow even more irresistible. Lastly, I offer an option to incorporate cocoa powder into the snowy confectioners’ sugar coating. That, too, brings an enticing savory edge that mellows out the sweetness and amps up the chocolate flavor. It’s easy to split the recipe into two batches, adding cocoa powder to one of them, so you can get the best of both worlds.

This is a recipe that takes well to whatever tweaks or innovations you want to bring to the table. Cookie butter is not gluten-free, so if that’s a concern, pivot back to the peanut butter or other nut or seed butter you prefer. The recipe will work just as well with regular butter or another plant-based alternative instead of the coconut oil. Similarly, use the chocolate chips of your choice even if they’re not vegan, though I prefer something dark or semisweet since milk chocolate leans sweet and this is sugary enough as it is.

Inspired by a recipe over on JoyFoodSunshine, I modified the standard method just a bit to ensure the best results. Briefly refrigerating the chocolate-coated cereal helps set the chocolate and means you’ll end up with more-distinct pieces with a thinner, more even dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Similarly, popping the finished puppy chow on baking sheets back in the fridge for a few more minutes gives you a prettier snack that’s less sticky on your fingers. (Really, though, with puppy chow, it’s best to smile and embrace the mess.)

You’ll get a hefty 12 cups of the snack mix at the end, which sounds like a lot until you put it down in front of a group of people, as I found out. Still, the recipe will half easily, if you’re restrained enough to try it.

Store the mix in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If it’s warm in your home or you prefer the texture chilled, you can refrigerate it.

Lotus Biscoff Creamy Cookie Butter is available at many supermarkets, as well as online. Trader Joe’s sells its own Speculoos Cookie Butter.

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  • 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) vegan dark or semisweet chocolate chips, such as Enjoy Life dark chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup (150 grams) cookie butter, such as Biscoff or Trader Joe’s brands
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) virgin or refined coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 10 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) Rice Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder (optional)

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips, cookie butter and coconut oil on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir the mixture. Continue heating in 30-second increments, stirring after each burst, until smooth and almost melted. You don’t want to overheat the chocolate, so once the chocolate looks mostly melted, stir until it melts in the residual heat. Whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon and salt.

Place about a third — a generous 3 cups — of the cereal in the largest, widest bowl you have. Pour in about a third of the chocolate mixture. With a flexible spatula, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cereal, so that all the pieces are well coated. A gentle touch helps keep the cereal from breaking too much. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so you don’t lose any of the chocolate mixture. Repeat adding the cereal and chocolate mixture in two more additions.

While you prepare the confectioners’ sugar, pop the bowl into the refrigerator to let the chocolate cool and set slightly, about 10 minutes. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.

Add half the confectioners’ sugar and half the cocoa powder, if using, to a 1-gallon zip-top silicone or plastic bag. Add half the cereal mixture to the bag, seal and shake so that the cereal is evenly coated. Pour the puppy chow onto one of the lined baking sheets, spreading it into a fairly even layer. Repeat with the remaining confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and cereal mixture and spread on the other prepared sheet.

Before eating or storing, transfer the pans to the refrigerator for about another 10 minutes to ensure the chocolate is set. Or if you can’t wait and don’t mind sticky fingers, dig in.

Calories: 179; Total Fat: 8 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 156 mg; Carbohydrates: 28 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 14 g; Protein: 2 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from a Chex recipe by Voraciously staff writer Becky Krystal.

Tested by Becky Krystal; email questions to [email protected].

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