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Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies

Bengal Spice Muddy Buddies - chai spice flavor muddy buddies

Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies: a chai-flavored snack made from a sweet herbal tea with the flavors of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg.

I am a life-long fan of Chex Mix. Mom made some every year along with the Christmas cookies and candies, and it was a welcome break from all the sweetness. She used the original recipe, made with melted margarine, garlic powder, onion powder, and more than a little worcestershire sauce. Sometimes we made a hot-and-spicy version.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea for muddy buddies, the sweet version of Chex mix (a.k.a. “puppy chow”) but I want to knight that person with a wooden spoon. (“I dub thee… Sir Sweetus of Chexington!”) The first time I had muddy buddies, they were the (original, I assume?) chocolate and peanut butter version – Chex cereal, coated with a mix of melted chocolate chips and peanut butter, then enrobed in velvety powdered sugar. They are the original, and probably the best, version of muddy buddies.

The first new flavor of muddy buddies I encountered was snickerdoodle. Besides being a great insult and/or substitute swear word when you’re around the kids, the snickerdoodle is one of my favorite cookies. It’s chewy and soft, like all cookies should be, and it’s my dad’s favorite cookie. So the snickerdoodle muddy buddies were very addictive, and the bag didn’t last long. Soon I was roaming around Pinterest, looking for a recipe.

Find one I did – and now I have the power to create a portable snickerdoodle snack in less than 15 minutes, using only one bowl and no oven. Whelp. Pinterest, you are my weakness.

As it turns out, there are many creative versions of muddy buddies out there as well: mint chocolate, s’mores, chocolate churro, cookie butter (speculoos! – I never miss a chance to say that), Nutella, butterbeer, samoaunicorn poop… and the list goes on. I started thinking about how I could infuse different flavors into my own muddy buddy versions, and I thought the chai-like flavors of Celestial Seasonings’ Bengal Spice Tea would make a delicious sweet snack.

The flavors in this herbal tea infuse readily into melted butter. I melt the butter together with the tea in a small saucepan, simmer on low (barely bubbling) for about 10 minutes, then strain the solids out and press them to extract all the butter. Then, because I like a strong, spicy flavor, I add a teaspoon of the grounds back into butter while it’s being mixed with melted white chocolate. If this is too strong for you, add less than a teaspoon.

Bengal Spice Muddy Buddies

I’m already thinking about the next flavor-infused muddy buddies I’ll make. Green tea? Earl grey? Or… what about coffee?

Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies

Course Snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 bags Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips (1 11-oz bag)
  • 8 cups Corn Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Add powdered sugar to a gallon-sized zipper bag and set aside.

  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Open teabags and tea to the butter. Stir to combine.

  3. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Mixture should be barely bubbling. Make sure the butter does not burn.

  4. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine strainer and press on the grounds to remove all of the butter.

  5. Add 1 tsp of grounds to the butter mixture and set aside.

  6. In a large bowl, microwave white chocolate chips on 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. When chips are completely melted, add butter and stir well.

  7. Pour melted chocolate over cereal, and gently fold to combine.

  8. Pour immediately into zipper bag. Seal bag and shake to coat cereal.

  9. Spread on cookie sheet. Cool for at least one hour. Store in a tightly-sealed container.

 

Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad

We’re food people, so Thanksgiving is our holiday. Preparations begin weeks in advance. If we’re smart, a spreadsheet is involved. If we’re very smart, we prepare as much as we can in advance. (We’re usually not that smart, even with the best of intentions.)

As the turkey timer winds down, not a surface is left uncovered, not a pot left unused in the glorious ballet of kitchen chaos. All available hands are plating, mashing, whipping, and carving. The CO detector usually goes off in the middle of this madness, from using the oven and most of the burners all day. Last year, the turkey ended up resting in a hallway.

Somehow, we all land around the table, and someone says “go!” And if we’re lucky, we still have room for our plates on the table amongst the feast.

It’s not that we’re gluttonous – I just think we all want our favorites for Thanksgiving, and it’s a time when we look forward to creating all these special dishes for each other.

Spiced Persimmon Pomegranate Salad - a recipe sketch
Spiced Persimmon Pomegranate Salad – a recipe sketch

As family Thanksgivings moved from my grandma’s house to either my parents’ or my own house, old favorites came along. There’s turkey, of course, though it’s been upgraded from frozen Butterball to fresh, Amish-raised. There must always be stuffing (a.k.a. dressing) and mashed potatoes, because where else would you put the gravy? Sweet potatoes have evolved quite a bit over the years; the marshmallows of old have been replaced by ginger and maple syrup.

This carb-fest is usually balanced out by various and rotating vegetable dishes. This is where we get the most variety. Last year, my brother-in-law, Ben and his wife, Natalie, made some delicious green beans with pecans and tarragon. The previous year, Ben hand-shaved a large amount of fresh brussels sprouts and tossed them with a lemony dressing.

This year, I was looking for a fresh fruit salad to bring to Thanksgiving at my mom and dad’s, and I created this persimmon salad. Persimmons are a fruit I only recently discovered. They’ve easy to use if you can get them at the correct state of ripeness. There are no peels or seeds to discard, just remove the stem and dice them up. They pair prefectly with apples and pomegranate seeds, two other great fall fruits. The sweet-spicy dressing with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and honey brings it all together, creating a fresh and crisp salad that pairs perfectly with your choice of Thanksgiving carbs.

Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad

This salad is also a great excuse to try this technique for seeding a pomegranate in water. What’s your favorite technique?

Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad
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Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad


Course Salad, Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

For the salad...

  • 2 Jiro persimmons see note below
  • 1 large honeycrisp apple
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 tbsp fennel, minced

For the dressing...

  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 valencia orange, juiced
  • 1 generous pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Remove the stems from the persimmons and cut into a small dice

  2. Core the apple and dice into small pieces.

  3. Score the skin of the pomegranate in quarters. Fill a medium-sized bowl with water. Placing the pomegranate under water in the bowl, pull the quarters apart and gently loosen the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the pieces of white membrane will float to the top. Pour off part of the water and the membrane pieces and drain the pomegranate seeds in a colander. 

  4. In a large bowl, combine persimmons, apple, pomegranate seeds, and minced fennel.

  5. In a smaller bowl, combine ingredients for the dressing. Whisk together until brown sugar is dissolved.

  6. Pour dressing over salad, and toss gently to combine.

  7. Optional: garnish with green fennel fronds before serving.

Recipe Notes

You may find a few different kinds of persimmons in the store. I use Jiro persimmons for this salad, one of the more common varieties. They look like a slightly-flattened orange tomato. They are ripe when they feel slightly over-ripe by tomato standards, or almost gelatinous under their skin. Read more about persimmons on Wikipedia.