Cereal is the new It ingredient. Sweet and crunchy, sometimes loaded with what are now known as “cereal marshmallows” and trendy in and of themselves, its retro appeal has made it a key ingredient in everything from marshmallow squares to ice cream sundaes. As a kid, I begged for the sweet stuff, but never got it – we were stuck with plain Cheerios (which, surprise! I still love) and anticipated a box of our choice on camping trips or our birthdays. These days fancy cereals have become more of a special treat or late night snack, and somewhat of an obsession for W. In London, we scouted out both locations of the Cereal Killer Cafe, where you can order from a wall of imported cereals, choose toppings and flavoured milks, and take your bowl to the back room, where they have tables and chairs, tube TVs and even single beds with cartoon sheets you can sit cross-legged on to dive in. (It’s all about the ambiance.)
Years ago we went to Portland, and made the pilgrimage to Voodoo Doughnuts, famous for their over-the top doughnuts, some with crunchy cereal loaded on top of the glaze like sweet barnacles. And a few weeks ago, the Calgary Underground Film Festival had their annual all-you-can-eat cereal and cartoon Saturday morning, and the buffet of cereals combined with a lineup of vintage cartoons from the 60s, 70s and 80s reminded me of how singularly special weekend mornings were, when you were young enough to be free of work and decision-making stresses, and being pre-internet were subject to whomever scheduled the TV programming for the three channels that were available.
My friends and I would set our alarms and run down the street to each others’ houses in our PJs, pillows in hand, to spend as many hours as possible watching cartoons and eating bottomless bowls of cereal. It was the highlight of our weeks. (I’m fairly sure some of my friends were chosen based on their parents’ cereal shopping habits.) I explained to W how once the cartoons wound down at around noon, that was it – there was no option to go watch something else on YouTube or iTunes.
And so, feeling all nostalgic, we decided to have a Saturday morning cartoon cereal party with the cousins – an almost sleepover, with plenty of milk and a buffet of cereal boxes, and because I had to push things ever so slightly over the top in order to score some extra awesome aunt points, cereal doughnuts. (How to win friends and influence people under 10.)
I used a yeast-risen dough so that they weren’t too heavy, gave them a quick dip in a vanilla glaze, then dunked them in shallow dishes of Lucky Charms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It’s the little things that stick with you forever. Few flavours are as nostalgic as cereal.
If you want to deliver a double whammy and use cereal milk in the dough itself, warm the milk (you may need about 1/4 cup extra) with some cereal (Lucky Charms works well), let sit for a few minutes and then strain and measure out a cup of cereal-infused milk to use as your starting point. Who would have thought cereal milk would wind up being the Next Big Thing? I knew this in the seventies. You could also use cereal milk in the icing drizzle. (And if you don’t want to waste the cereal itself, allow your kid to indulge in a bowl and use his or her leftover milk!)
When you have a batch of cereal doughnuts, it’s an instant party. And we’re celebrating Canada’s 150th all year long, right?
Thanks to Life Made Delicious for supporting W’s cereal addiction and helping keep the lights on here. (Also: I have a bundle of sweet snacky things to give away over on my Facebook page!)