I think many people are probably familiar with rice crispy squares, but I don’t know how many people are familiar with it’s chewy and indulgent cousin, the puffed wheat square.
Puffed wheat squares are a very Canadian treat. They are most popular in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, although they occasionally appear in other parts of Canada as well. I’m not sure when they became part of Canadian cuisine; they don’t appear in my tattered old Five Roses cookbook from the 1930s, but by 1981 they appear in 150 Delicious Squares by Jean Pare of the Company’s Coming books. If anyone has found an earlier reference to them in a cookbook, can you please tell me which book it is in?
To make these, you’ll need puffed wheat.
Just look at how wholesome puffed wheat is. This might be the healthiest cereal on the market. And like all healthy things, they are simply crying to be drenched in chocolate, so let’s get on that, eh?
To make my squares, I referred to the blog Mennonite Girls Can Cook. They tripled the recipe to serve to a bunch of kids. Meanwhile, I halved the recipe for just my partner and I. It’s a very easy recipe to do that to. Here is my halved version:
Puffed Wheat Squares
1/4 cup of hard vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup of dark corn syrup
1/2 cup of white sugar
2 tbsp of brown sugar
3 heaping tsp of cocoa powder
1 tsp of vanilla
5 cups of puffed wheat
Prepare an 8 x 8 inch pan by greasing it. For easy removal, you can line the pan with parchment or waxed paper before greasing.
Combine the margarine, corn syrup, sugars, and cocoa in a large heavy pot. Stir occasionally. Bring to a full boil. This is important! It will start to bubble a bit as it approaches the boiling point, but don’t make the mistake of taking it off too soon. You want a full rolling boil. Let it boil for a few seconds, then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour over the puffed wheat, mix well, and press into the pan. The Mennonite Girls blog suggests using wet hands to press the cereal in; I used greased hands with no problem. Just be sure to press firmly so that the bars are as condensed as you can get them, that way they won’t fall apart when you go to slice them.
Allow to harden at room temperature before slicing into squares. They’ll be easiest to cut the next day, but if you simply can’t help yourself and cut them before they’re set, you can use your hands to smoosh them back into a square shape. Don’t ask me how I know this ;)