When I was growing up in Singapore, my idea of the “typical American breakfast” was a grand affair.
I had visions of buttermilk pancakes stacked high and drizzled with maple syrup that were oozing down with melted butter into a golden pool on a giant platter, served alongside with griddled sausage links, creamy scrambled eggs and fresh-squeezed orange juice. I honestly thought that was what most Americans ate for breakfast, because that’s what I read in books.
I never grew up eating pancakes. Pancakes were an occasional treat for me. When I was in pre-school, my mom used to make Japanese pre-mix pancakes (called hotcakes) once in a while with my siblings and me, but it was never eaten as a meal, but as a dessert or a snack.
The only time I got to eat “real” pancakes was during our annual trip to Malaysia, where we would load up on the “all-American” breakfast buffet in nice hotels. I would eat until I felt sick, drenching the cakes and sausages in lots an lots of syrup, then burn it all off at the pool.
Thus when I moved to America, I was surprised to find out that many of my American friends didn’t eat pancakes for breakfast. Some of them had cereal, or a granola bar. Most of them skipped breakfast entirely. Growing up in a culture where rice and fish or noodles in soup were traditional breakfast fare, skipping breakfast was kind of a foreign concept to me.
And now, I’m just as “American” as my peers. I have to admit, I rarely eat a formal breakfast unless you count coffee and a big handful of nuts and chocolate “breakfast.” Um, I can feel my parents tsk-ing with disapproval right now.
When Canada Maple Syrup contacted me about trying their maple syrup, I said yes. I said yes because I once again had that ideal vision of griddling fresh pancakes in the morning, dousing them with real maple syrup and butter with a glass of OJ before hopping off to school.
Yeah. That never happened. What happened is I’m a college student with a full semester load and two internships. When the alarm clock blares, I hit snooze about 7 times before I finally drag myself up from bed. When I come back home at 11 pm, I’m too cranky and hungry to even contemplate pancakes.
I decided to make a more practical, pre-prepared, grab-and-go snack that still reminisced of “breakfast.” I researched on maple scones, maple oatmeal cookies, maple bread. Which was a stupid idea because if I don’t have the time and energy to make pancakes, why would I have the time to make time-intensive scones and yeast bread?
It just so happened that I was free with little to do one Sunday morning because I decided to go to a later church service. Enter inspiration. And welcome this:
I don’t know how to shorten it. If only I had bacon available, it could easily be shortened to “Elvis Presley Breakfast Bars.” But alas, I polished off my last bacon on kimchi fried rice.
This “inspired” recipe is really a no-brainer. I simply followed a basic recipe for Rice Krispie treats, but instead of Rice Krispies, I used Peanut Butter Cheerios and I also added a whole bunch of other ingredients that are self-explanatory.
So. I sense your anticipation. Here’s the recipe.
Canadian Maple Peanut Butter Banana Cheerio Breakfast Bars
- about 6 cups Peanut Butter Cheerios (but honestly, you can just used regular Cheerios or heck, Rice Krispies)
- 5 cups marshmallows
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 large banana
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- tiny pinch of coarse salt
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
First combine and melt the marshmallows, butter, banana and peanut butter together in a big pot.
Make sure you cook it over low heat. You don’t want to scorch the marshmallows and end up having burnt-flavored bars! (well, unless you’re into that kind of thing…).
Sorry, the banana looks kind of hairy, doesn’t it? It was a frozen one, so it had freeze burns. But once cooked down, it’s still perfectly usable!
Once the stuff is melted and gooey, add a sprinkle of salt (just to keep down the sweetness, I suppose. I dunno, it’s just a conjecture) and the maple syrup.
I chose the Grade B maple syrup for its intense aroma and distinct flavor. I tasted each one of the maple syrups from Canada Maple Syrup, and I really liked the Grade B the most.
Here’s a chart on how to decide when to use which grade of maple syrup:
(Source: Canada Maple Syrup)
So Grade A syrup, basically, is meant for everyday tableside use. It’s the kind of syrup you’d serve over pancakes and waffles. The darker a Grade A syrup is, the stronger the aroma and taste. Grade B syrup, however, is used mostly for cooking or agri-food processing purposes.
Did you know that Canada produces 80 percent of all maple production worldwide, 91% of which comes from Quebec? And to think I always thought Vermont was the capitol of maple syrup. I don’t need to harp on the nutritional qualities of maple syrup; I think my readers probably know better than I do on the high antioxidant compounds found in maple syrup and its superior values compared to other sweeteners like sugar and HFCS.
But I really enjoyed learning about the cultural aspect of Canadian maple syrup. Apparently maple syrup is one of the main ingredients used in Quebec cuisine!
(Picture source from Bonjour Quebec)
Maple taffy, a Quebec traditional treat, is made by pouring hot maple syrup into clean snow and then twirling the malleable candy around a stick. Children just grab it by the stick and start chewing on that sticky maple taffy. I missed this wonderful affair because I visited Quebec in the summer.
Ah, Quebec. Such a beautiful, charming city. I would return in a heartbeat.
Wait. Back to the recipe. I think Grade A probably would work in this particular recipe, but I chose Grade B because I was only going to use a couple drops and a little goes a long way with Grade B’s bold aroma and flavor.
To be honest, I didn’t really measure my Cheerios. I just kind of dumped a whole lot in, and then added more as necessary so that the marshmallow “glue” balances out with the dry cereal. Just use common sense.
After the good mixing workout, spread the mixture into a large baking pan.
Then let it cool. Forget about it for an hour or so. Or if you’re impatient like me, stick it in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
It’s tough, I know, to have to wait. But at least there’s no baking time! My friend Joanna was with me when I was making this, and she kept asking impatiently, “Is it done yet?”
I really loved the touch of maple in there. It’s the kind of background note that you can’t exactly put your finger on, but it infuses a certain depth and quality of flavor into an otherwise straight-up classic peanut butter and banana flavor profile.
I know what you’re thinking. How is this any faster and easier than whipping up a batch of pancakes and pouring maple syrup on top? Well, it’s not that much faster, but it definitely is more portable and convenient. It keeps really well, whether at room temperature or in the fridge, and I can take it with me to class.
Except that never happened, because I brought most of it to church with me and shared it with the young adults group. The few pieces left? Joanna and I devoured them as dessert after a fiery Thai take-out dinner.
But that’s okay. This took all of 20 minutes to make, and I wouldn’t mind making another batch. Except maybe this time, no less sharing.
Question of the Day: What is your favorite way of using maple syrup? Do you eat pancakes for breakfast?