Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Puffed wheat squares cross the great divide!

As well as cooking with Swiss chard, another cookery first for me on this side of the Atlantic was using a ‘cup’ as a measure. In the UK, we measure in weight and use ounces and pounds, or grams nowadays I suppose. However, over here, as in the US, the measure in recipes is by volume. One US cup equals 8 UK ounces (apparently, there’s also a British cup which is 10 ounces but I’ve never used a cup as a measure when cooking or baking in England.)

This conversion of US cup to UK ounces would seem pretty straightforward until you realise that the volume of an ingredient isn’t always the same as its weight. For example, a cup of brown sugar may weigh 8 oz, but a cup of plain flour may only weigh 4 oz. I worked this out when I made puffed wheat squares a few years ago. A friend gave me the recipe with the measures in cups. I converted those measures to ounces and off I set. However, when it came to the puffed wheat, the recipe called for something like 6 cups. Six cups converts to 2 lbs. There’s only around 4 oz of puffed wheat in a giant-sized packet! I realised when the puffed wheat started flowing over the sides of the saucepan that something was amiss.

Fast-forward two years and I am the proud owner of not one but two sets of measuring cups. (And I realise now why I had a bit of difficulty trying to buy a set of scales when I first moved to Canada.)

The following is my friend’s recipe for puffed wheat squares (thanks, Ann!). I don’t even know exactly how many cups of puffed wheat goes into this recipe. My advice is to pour slowly, stirring and coating the puffed wheat with the sticky cocoa mix as you go and stop when it looks as though you're out of mix.

I’ve used both sets of measurements for this recipe and they both work fine.

Puffed Wheat Squares

¾ cup (6 oz) brown sugar
½ cup (4 oz) margarine or butter
½ cup (4 oz) corn syrup
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Puffed wheat

Place the top four ingredients in a big saucepan and heat gently until the margarine has melted and the ingredients have all combined. Stir on heat for about three minutes. Take off heat, stir in the vanilla extract. Slowly pour in the puffed wheat, stirring so that all the wheat gets covered. When it looks as though there’s no cocoa mixture left to coat any more wheat, stop! Spoon into a large rectangular cake tin (or similar). Leave to cool and then cut into squares.

You can also add mini marshmallows as well as the wheat. I’ll leave it to you to work out how many of those you’ll need!

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