Buttery Toasted Captain Crunchies

I’ve really been enjoying my new cookbook and am getting all sorts of inspiration from it.

Like buttering and toasting one of my favorite childhood cereals.

What I love about Christina and her book, is that she’s not afraid of unusual food and ingredient pairings.

Although some of the ingredients she uses are quite unusual (glucose and acetate strips), breakfast cereal is about as ordinary as it gets.

Ordinary, schmordinary.

Cap’n Crunch could never be ordinary to me, but it did just get even better.

With butter.

A stick of melted butter makes anything better, even cereal.

These taste like very crunchy buttered toast with just a hint of sweetness, not Cap’n Crunch.

The secret ingredient that makes these little nuggets so special is a milk powder coating. Christina recommends never to actually try to make milk from milk powder because it just wouldn’t taste good (this is a woman who loves heavy cream) but it lends a special flavor depth to recipes.

I realized that she’s right and that milk powder is magical for deepening flavors when baking with it. Up until this recipe, I had never bought milk powder, used it, and didn’t even know what it looks like and was surprised at how granular and course it is, almost like Kosher salt.

These crunchies don’t have a milky taste. What they do have is a buttery toast taste.

 It’s like eating a whole bowl of buttery toast crumbs, that are slightly sweet, and more than slightly addictive.

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Buttery Toasted Captain Crunchies (with Vegan and Gluten Free Suggestions) – very loosely inspired by Corn Flake Crunch from Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar

Makes about 4 cups

4 cups Cap’n Crunch cereal, slightly crushed by hand* (or try Puffins, Kix, Chex, Cheerios, Cornflakes, Special K, Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles)

1/2 cup dry instant milk powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt, optional

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 275F and prepare a baking sheet with a Silpat liner, foil, or parchment paper. In a large bowl, add the cereal and crush it with your hands by either taking fistfuls of it and squeezing or pressing the cereal firmly against the mixing bowl. *Note: Crushing is not necessary and if you’re going to eat it as a snack later you may not want to crush it. The reason to crush it is because the butter and milk powder will coat and absorb into the cereal somewhat better if it’s slightly crushed but the downside is you have crumbs. Your choice and I would crush no more than about one-third of the total amount cereal.

To the crushed cereal, add the remaining dry ingredients and pour the melted butter over the top, stirring and tossing to coat uniformly. Transfer the coated cereal onto the baking sheet, spreading it in a uniform layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has barely begun to brown. Remove from the oven and allow cereal to cool on the baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container or baggie. Cereal will keep for at least two weeks.

Ideas: To the finished and cooled crunchies, add chocolate chips, pretzels, M&M’s, raisins, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, add them into homemade Chex mix or your favorite (storebought) party mix, sprinkle them over oatmeal, over other kinds of cold cereal, use them in cookie or muffin recipes, crush them and use their crumbs as “flour” or the dry ingredient to bind the wet in no-bake energy balls.

To keep vegan, use margarine and in place of the milk powder, use coarsely ground cashews, or simply omit. Use a crunchy vegan cereal of your choice. To keep gluten free, use a crunchy gluten free cereal. Take care that all ingredients used are suitable for your dietary needs.

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Slightly crush the cereal in the bowl, first, before adding the remaining ingredients. The advantage to crushing the cereal a bit is that the coating will adhere better and the smaller pieces were ever more delectable than the bigger pieces.

The con is that crushed cereal equates to cereal crumbs and I don’t like crumbs. But the crumbs could be used in oatmeal, in granola, used as flour for cookies, or just eat the crumbs regardless.

Pre-baking

You’ll know these are done when your entire house smells like the combination of bread baking and like a giant piece of buttered toast is directly under your nose, which was about 22 minutes for me.

I did not flip them or toss them during the baking process because in Christina’s baked cereal recipes, she doesn’t toss or mess with them. There were a few pieces that browned more so than others on the bottoms, really resembling toasted bread crust.

I put a little baggie of these in Scott’s lunch and he called me to ask what they were. He had no idea they were made from Cap’n Crunch and I said take a guess what they are and he said, well, I have no idea but I’d guess there’s butter in them? Smart man, yes, there is.

These buggers are addictive and after they’ve cooled you could add chocolate chips, pretzels, M&M’s, raisins, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, Fritos, potato chips, mini-Ritz sandwich crackers (cheese or peanut butter), or just about anything that’s taking up space in your cupboard.

You can also incorporate them into your favorite homemade or storebought Chex-type party mix.

Or just eat them by the handful.

Related recipes:

Crunchy Snacks & Mixes

Peanut Butter Chex Mix, aka “Puppy Chow” (vegan, GF)

Vanilla Cake Batter and White Chocolate Chip Caramel Corn

White Chocolate Vanilla Peanut Butter Puppy Chow (GF)

Breakfast Cereal Recipes

Double Chocolate Caramel Corn & Cocoa Rice Krispies Candy Bars (No-Bake with Vegan & GF options)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough & Marshmallow Stuffed Rice Krispie Bars (No Bake)

Special K Bars (No Bake) – One of my favorite bars/desserts of all time

Nutter Butter Special K Bars (No Bake)

Do you like Cap’n Crunch? Do you like cereal in general?

As I noted in the recipe, you could make this with any number of cereals from Corn Flakes to Puffins to your favorite vegan, gluten-free, or specialty cereal.

I, however, have a soft spot for Cap’n Crunch with it’s uber-crunchiness, the extreme texture of it (I love highly textured foods; mushy doesn’t work for me), and the slight almost peanut-buttery undertone in flavor of Cap’n Crunch makes it a favorite and truth be told, on a per serving basis, probably has less sugar than a Starbucks latte.

I almost bought the Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter cereal, or the Peanut Butter Cheerios, or Peanut Butter Puffins for this and I think they’d be excellent doctored up with this recipe.

I grew up on breakfast cereal for breakfast, as a snack in lunches, and ate breakfast-for-dinner many nights as a kid.

In college and my early 20s, I think I lived on it. That, and Triscuits. I got my crunchy carbs in, indeed.

Have you made anything great using cereal? (links welcome)

Have a great week!

   

80 Responses to “Buttery Toasted Captain Crunchies”

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    Let Me Eat Cake — April 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    i am in love with this recipe! this is my favorite childhood cereal must make asap :)

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 12:14 am

      Ok it’s so easy and fast and your whole house will smell like a butter bomb went off, in the best possible way :) Keep me posted if you try it!

      Reply

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    j3nn — April 3, 2012 at 1:50 am

    I love buttered toast. No seriously. I could eat nothing but that and be happy indefinitely. These sound SO GOOD! But I’d eat the whole batch. Dustin would get like 3 crumbs. :mrgreen:

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 7:41 am

      He probably wouldn’t notice though if you made one of his faves for him & who knows, he may not like it…he is Mr. Quirky when it comes to his likes and dislikes…Lol

      Reply

      • j3nn replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 1:18 pm

        True! I can see him not liking something that’s clearly delicious, lol.

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    Kathryn — April 3, 2012 at 1:55 am

    What a cool idea! This could be a very dangerous snack to have on hand…

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    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — April 3, 2012 at 3:53 am

    I’ll have a bowl of this stuff! It looks fabulous!

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    Paula — April 3, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Captain Crunch was my sister’s favorite cereal so I should make this for her! I bet if I took a batch to Easter dinner at my in-laws it would disappear in no time flat!!

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 7:39 am

      In no time flat is right! Or add some pretzels and peanuts to beef it up and make a trail mix out of it..but I bet these would get cherry-picked out :)

      Reply

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    Liz (Little Bitty Bakes) — April 3, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Oh my gosh, I used to love Cap’n Crunch! This sounds like such a fun little snack.

    Reply

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    Heather (Where's the Beach) — April 3, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Oh wow – yum yum. I didn’t like Capn’ Crunch as much as a kid – now my sister and mom were all over it. But in my teens I decided I loved it. Gotta have just the right soggyness though LOL. And I bought some Puffins on clearance (PB perhaps) and those are just flat out addicting.

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 7:38 am

      Puffins are pretty much AMAZING little addictive things, aren’t they!

      Reply

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    Claire @ Live and Love to Eat — April 3, 2012 at 5:35 am

    My husband would go crazy over this recipe!

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 7:38 am

      You should make it for him and then ask him for a shopping trip :)

      Reply

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    katie @ KatieDid — April 3, 2012 at 5:35 am

    I’m definitely on board with adding butter to an already great thing! Fun recipe!

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    Blog is the New Black — April 3, 2012 at 5:40 am

    SPEECHLESS!

    Reply

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    Nicole — April 3, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Growing up we didn’t get to eat sugary cereals so I never really developed a taste for them…as an adult, I did go through a phase of I can buy whatever I want!, but got past that.
    I used Uncle Sam in a recent granola recipe http://wp.me/p263ht-6A

    Reply

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    Bev Weidner — April 3, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Check. Those. OUT.

    Reply

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    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen — April 3, 2012 at 7:26 am

    My brother would lose his sh%& for this, Cap’n Crunch was his favorite cereal as a kid. I was a lucky charms kinda kid though ;)

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 7:37 am

      You could always make the same thing using Lucky Charms. In her book, she uses Fruity Pebbles!

      Reply

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    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite — April 3, 2012 at 7:40 am

    How fun…this totally reminds me of puppy chow (don’t you just hate that name?!)…I so miss eating kids cereal like Cap ‘n Crunch, Fruit Loops, Trix, and Cookie Crisp! Now you’ve got me craving them all in addition to this amazing creation…

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 8:02 am

      the author makes them with Corn Flakes and Fruity Pebbles and I bet Trix would be fun…forgot about those!

      Reply

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    Kelli@kellird.com — April 3, 2012 at 7:52 am

    How amazing does that look?!! Sugar, butter and captain crunch, what an amazing combination! I think I am going to have to surprise my hubby with these! He ate a lot of plain captain crunch as a newlywed ;)

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 8:01 am

      I bet he (or your kids) would love them! You could probably make them with Cheerios or just about any crunchy cereal (the author makes them with Corn Flakes and Fruity Pebbles) so I had to try them like this!

      Reply

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    Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables — April 3, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I’m addicted to cereal, I can’t wait to try this with some of my favorite kinds!

    Reply

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    sally @ sally's baking addiction — April 3, 2012 at 8:32 am

    what a delicious and creative snack-y treat, Averie! Captain Crunch was one of my favorite childhood cereals… i also LOVED lucky charms. i always saved the marshmallows for last. :) your white chocolate peanut butter vanilla puppy chow looks out of this world! the only thing i’ve made with cereal recently (or ever) are rice krispie treats. I made cake batter ones last week!

    http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/03/25/cake-batter-rice-krispie-treats/

    Reply

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    This is fun! I love cereal-inspired recipes!

    Reply

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    Deirdre — April 3, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Those snacks, they’re just so crazy, they just might work…and be delicious.
    What i remember about the capt’n was the kind of cut up in the inside of my mouth. Does the addition of butter help with that?

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 11:39 am

      I thought I was the only person that got the tore-up roof of mouth feeling..I thought maybe my mouth was just sensitive! It still does that, but not nearly as much with the butter and milk powder coating.

      Reply

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    Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather — April 3, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Butter and cereal… My heart just skipped a beat!

    Reply

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    Amber K — April 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I needed that reminder for your white chocolate puppy chow, soooo good! That’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever made with cereal.

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 11:38 am

      That puppy chow is crazy good and so addictive, isn’t it!

      Reply

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    Katie — April 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I used to eat an entire box of peanut butter capn crunch daily. I ate it for every meal. At first, they tore up my mouth, but they tasted so good, I soldiered on and eventually built up my tolerance. The only way to make this recipe any better would be to use pb capn crunch. And maybe sprinkle in some chocolate chips. You know, since we’re already talking about a rich and sugary dessert. ;)

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 11:45 am

      It’s not even that sweet. You’d think, oh yeah that’s a sugar bomb but really it’s not. Something about the butter..it sort of neutralizes the sweet, as well as the milk powder.

      C.C. tears up my mouth, too! I just wrote back to a woman above you in the comments the same thing! We are twins, again.

      Reply

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    Cassie — April 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I love this Averie! I bet it’s like cereal candy. Love, love, love!

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    jojo — April 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    yes.. butter does make everything taste good~
    sinful and irresistible.. :P

    Reply

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    Katherine Martinelli — April 3, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    So simple, but such a great idea! I love Momofuko Milk Bar and it looks like I really need to get my hands on that cookbook.

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks for your email; responding soon.

      And you’ve been to The Milk Bar? Oh what I wouldn’t give to go!

      Reply

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    Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic — April 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I do love cereal but have actually never baked with them. My favorites are Cheerios and Peanut Butter Puffins :)

    Reply

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    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts — April 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    These are just over the top! I have never tried using Milk Powder in a recipe before. I have kind of shied away from it for some reason. But not any more!

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      It adds a wonderful depth and richness to cooking and baking I’ve learned…sort of like some women toss in a packet of pudding mix into cakes, or cookies, or Ovaltine…this kind of does that, too, but in a more neutral/vanilla way, if that makes sense.

      Reply

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    Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) — April 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I don’t think I have ever had Captain Crunch! I like cereal occasionally … I will crave it about once a year. I haven’t made much with cereal, but I have eaten other peoples goodies with different types of cereal and they are always great.

    Reply

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    Patricia — April 3, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    This sounds yummy! I never would have thought of making anything like this – it is a great idea.
    To make it vegan, I wonder if either soy milk powder or soy protein powder would work, instead of cashews…..probably, I think. Ground cashews have a fabulous buttery taste, though, so they’d probably add both texture and flavor.

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      I went with the cashews as my suggestion b/c of their buttery taste AND the texture. But if there’s a soy protein that would work, go for that. Or use vegan breadcrumbs, or…just omit :)

      Reply

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    Patricia — April 3, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Oh, and I meant to add that I grew up drinking powdered milk (it’s no wonder I’ve been a vegan for so long, eh?). I grew up in a big family, and one of the cost-saving measures my mom used was to make powdered skim milk instead of buying carton milk. I would get so excited when I went to friends’ houses or on fields trips and got to have ‘real’ milk!

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      A friend of mine grew up with four kids in the family, not much money, and milk powder was a way of life for her. And she’d come to my house and chug skim milk like it was the best thing ever.

      Reply

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    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — April 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    What an addicting looking snack! I used to love Capt’ Crunch with the berries. I love your pictures,! It looks retro to me, maybe because it takes me back to childhood.

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      I tried to give it a different feel than the doughy desserts or the rich bars…more stark and “harder” with the black because of the hard crunch. Clearly I overthink…everything!

      Reply

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    Suzanne B — April 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    LOVE the low profile ball canning jar – was that a thrift find – or could I find those in a store somewhere? Love the shape!

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      gift from a friend for xmas…some nut butter she made…like 3 holidays ago. Google it..I bet you can source it somewhere.

      Reply

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    Grimmie — April 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    yay! my kids will surely love this, i will try it now hahas! thanks

    Reply

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    Christine (The Raw Project) — April 3, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    This looks looks crazy, what a fun way to remix a favorite food from my childhood! My nieces would go nuts over these – too bad they get too much sugar as is! :-P Awesome job on this recipe and great pics as usual!

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — April 3rd, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      Honestly, compared to say a brownie or cookies or a “serving” of anything else that’s snacky, I really don’t think these are “that” much worse. I mean, they are not broccoli florets, but I’d venture to say they’re no worse than glazed and iced animal crackers with a thick layer of icing and sprinkles they market for kids! But who knows :)

      Reply

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    Kelly — April 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

    What a cute idea, I LOVE this! Captain Crunch was one of my favorite cereals growing up, reminds of being a kid! :)

    Reply

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    Owen Rubin — April 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Ouch! And we wonder why America is so fat! :-) As if Cap’n ‘Crunch (note, not Captain) does not have enough calories already. These look damn good though, and would probably make me eat the whole box of cereal in one sitting, so please keep them away! Wondering, how would this work with Crunch Berries?

    Reply

    • Owen Rubin replied: — April 4th, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      By the way: 109 calories, 1.6 g fat per 6 oz serving of the cereal alone. Maybe this doubles the calories, but all that butter, 3X the fat? (any idea?) So I take it back, for a reasonably sized serving, it might just be better than a Venti frap from Starbucks!

      Reply

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    Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips — April 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Cap’n Crunch plus a stick of butter – not much that could be wrong with that!

    Reply

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    Jenny — April 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Averie- wow! These look amazing. You just can’t beat real butter, it’s true.

    Reply

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    Kristen — April 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I have never seen Captain Crunch look sooooo good!

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    gloria — April 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    wow, that chex mix looks amazing!

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    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen — May 21, 2012 at 5:14 am

    And ummmm this caught my eye in a major way. Now my mind is on overload!!! :)

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — May 21st, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      This post didn’t get the attention I wished it had; seriously these things are SO good! It’s like the best possible “chex mix”…sweet AND buttery and crunchy!

      Reply

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    Margaret — April 16, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I don’t know if you see new comments on old posts but all I have to lose is a few seconds of typing. A second use for milk powder (here in the South we call it powdered milk) is to mix it according to directions and water your tomato plants with it once a week or so. Tomato plants need calcium and this is an efficient way to deliver it to them.

    As for enriching the taste, if you are making a custard based pie or a pudding that calls for regular milk, substitute half the milk with evaporated milk. It does not have that “canned milk” taste, it’s just richer and tastier than if you use all fresh milk. Evaporated milk can be substituted for half and half in any recipe and in some it’s even better.

    Reply

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    Linda — October 10, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Averie, I don’t know if you are still reading comments on this post but I had to try! I made these last night and my house smelled wonderful! I couldn’t wait for them to cool and tried them right out of the oven and OMG I love them! They are so addicting! My mom and hubby both knew I was making something with Capt Crunch so I couldn’t make them guess what was in them, but they loved them too. They are gone already. I had to do an extra workout after snarfing them for an hour! I saved about 1/2 cup in a baggie to bring to work for my boss to try and I might have eaten most of them before I got to work, lol! But I did leave her a few and she thought they were addicting too! I found you on pinterest and am a forever follower of you now on Twitter, Pinterest and by email. I don’t want to miss a thing! Your recipes are amazing! The (grown)kids are getting new treats in their Christmas boxes this year!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — October 10th, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Wow thanks for the amazing compliments and following me on all the social media outlets! I am so glad you loved this recipe! Yes, I read comments on new, old, and every post in between and it’s nice to know when someone makes an ‘oldie’ and is so happy!

      Reply

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    cyndi — November 2, 2014 at 7:59 am

    I like your site and recipes, but the site takes way too long to load. Too many large images I think.

    Reply

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