I grew up in a house with a lot of food. My family all likes to eat and I have two younger brothers, one of whom grew to be 6’4″ and the other grew to 6’1″. (I’m 5’3″. But I got the small nose gene.) My mom is a good cook and she made virtually all of our meals. Breakfast was usually cereal but she packed our lunches and made us dinner every night. She often baked so we had homemade treats for after dinner. But she never made snack food. My mother is not a snacker. Like, she never snacks. Ever. It is admirable really because I recently read that the average American consumes over 500 calories a day in mindless snacking. Ahem.
In the two months since I last made Chex Mix, I have found myself discussing the stuff more than you would expect. It turns out that I am not the only one who loves it. Many people have memories of taking Chex Mix on camping trips or having it around during the holidays. Why don’t I have those memories? Oh yes, the no snacking thing. It’s not that we didn’t snack – my brothers had (and have) huge appetites. Alex, my middle brother, once ate 98 shrimp skewers each with three shrimp. I can’t count that high but that’s a lot of shrimp. The boys ate a lot. So there were snacks. But not homemade.
In my conversations with people about Chex Mix (what? is that weird?), I found that people are partial to certain things being in there. Katie, the woman who waxes my eyebrows (what? is this weird too?) says that her mom not only puts all the different kinds of Chex cereal in (not just the rice), but also Cheerios and Cheerios soak up all the butter and taste the best. On the list for next time. But overall, I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out.
Here we find salty from soy sauce, rich from butter, sweet from maple syrup, and spicy from Thai curry paste. The spice is very background although you could certainly add more paste to make it spicier. I like all the crunch additions here – almonds, cashews, rice crackers, pretzels, and, of course, the Chex cereal. This recipe makes approximately one ton of mix but it keeps well and you will win friends with it as you bring it over for playdates, to accompany cocktails, or to accompany cocktails at playdates. :)
12 cups Rice Chex cereal (12 ounces)
1½ pounds roasted mixed salted nuts (I used cashews and almonds), 6 cups
3 cups Asian rice cracker mix (7 ounces)
3 cups sesame sticks (8 ounces)
3 cups pretzel nuggets or mini pretzels (8 ounces)
2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste or sambal oelek
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 275ºF. In a large bowl, combine the cereal with the nuts, rice cracker mix, sesame sticks, and pretzels.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, maple syrup, soy sauce, and curry paste and bring to a simmer, whisking to dissolve the curry paste. Pour the mixture over the snack mix and toss to coat completely. Season generously with salt and pepper and spread on 3 large rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times and shifting the sheets, until nearly dry and toasted. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally. (The snack mix can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Recrisp if necessary.)