- M.F.K. Fisher
I love to share food! Although snack-type food may not be highly nutritious, it is very easy to make in abundance...which means more to share! I had a bag of crispy chow mein noodles and a package of vanilla almond bark in my pantry gathering dust from Christmas '13 when we made haystacks and dubbed them "Who Hash" for our pre-Christmas movie marathon which included the animated and live-action versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The kids My daughter enjoyed the snacks, but the noodle:almond bark ratio was way off - my son couldn't even bite through them because the bark was so thick! *This could be because the recipe called for half a package of almond bark, and I thought more would be better* Flash forward to Halloween '14, and my daughter has a tummy bug and can't go to school (or trick-or-treating) on the day that they are making spider cookies. We bought the ingredients and set to work. You would not believe how difficult it is to stick pretzel rods into the side of Double Stuf Oreos! The only problem was that we had a gigantic family-size bag of M&Ms and over half a bag of pretzel rods left over after making a couple of cookies each - the extra Oreos didn't last long (especially dipped in cherry Kool-Aid). Salty and sweet combinations are one of my favorite - salted caramel, kettle corn mixed with extra buttery movie style, fantasy fudge smooshed on saltine crackers, shoelace fries dipped in ice cream... I wasn't sure the pretzel rods would add enough salt to mellow out the bark (or enough bulk to balance the ratio of bark:other stuff), so I fancied it up a smidgen more and came up with...
aka Whoville Crack Attack
I apologize for the lack of "process" photos, but it's pretty straightforward. I will try to update it before the year's end with more photos. I also have no idea how many this would serve or the nutritional information due to the variance in size of the pieces and distribution of ingredients.
12oz bag La Choy Chow Mein Noodles (crispy)
20oz Vanilla Almond Bark, broken into chunks
~2 cups salted pretzel rods (thin)
2 cups M&Ms
2 cups roasted/salted cashew halves/pieces
2 cups roasted/salted (shelled) peanuts
1. Mix noodles, pretzel rods, M&Ms, cashews, and peanuts together in a very large bowl - you will need plenty of room to stir!
2. Spread a large single layer of waxed paper on your table or counter top.
3. In a nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat, melt almond bark. Do NOT walk away from this pan while it is heating or you will risk scorching (and ruining) the almond bark. Stir the bark as it melts to prevent sticking and scorching. This stuff is very delicate, and though it has instructions for melting in the microwave I wouldn't take that chance.
4. Once the almond bark has melted completely (no chunks, easy to stir, no trace when you drizzle it into the pan), evenly pour the entire pan over the other ingredients and stir/toss/fold until the pieces are coated.
5. If you are fast, I mean really really fast, you can dollop out individual haystacks. I am not that fast, so I just poured the whole mess onto the waxed paper and spread it out in a relatively even layer. It dries pretty quickly, but I left mine for about 2 hours before handling it just to be sure it was dry and hard.
6. I tried cutting the mixture into chunks, but it was just splintering into shmeensy pieces that I then had to eat (no guilt - broken piece just mean that all the calories fall out), so I ended up breaking it into silver dollar-sized pieces with my hands. If you're like me and can't stand to have food stuck to your hands, you might want to don a pair of food-handler's gloves...I didn't have any on hand (no pun intended), so I washed my hands multiple times during the break-up.
7. Once it is broken into chunks, store it in an airtight container. I gave away about a third of the mixture, and nearly a week later I still have so much left I'm going to give away more. This makes a very large batch, and it would be perfect for a finger-food party, a pretty homemade Christmas gift, or I suppose you could just eat it all. Proceed with caution...this is very addictive. I'm already planning when I can make my next batch!