When it comes to Christmas baking, there are generally two categories of goodies I make. There are the new recipes I try, either because I saw the recipe and just needed to try it, or because I’ve tried it somewhere and loved it. These treats may or may not make the cut for next year. This year I tried three new goody recipes, probably only one of which will survive to next year. Not that the others were bad, just not good enough to make the Christmas cut.
The other category of treats I make are the tried and true recipes. These ones might have been around for the past couple of years, or they may have held strong for many years, passed down through the generations.
Cornflake Squares is that kind of recipe. Just like my favorite dinner buns, I have been eating cornflake squares pretty much as long as I can remember. They generally only get made at Christmas time, usually by my Granny. They are – and have been for many, many years – my absolute favorite Christmas treat. And there’s certainly no shortage of treats to choose from – many much more exotic and complex than these. I don’t know where the recipe originally came from, but I do know that “winging” the recipe and trying to remember the correct ratios of butter/marshmallow/cereal does not work. The recipe needs to be made as written to turn out so delicious. Believe me, I’ve tried and failed several times. In this case, more marshmallow does not equal better.
The process to make these is just as simple as for any marshmallow based cereal bar. Melt butter. I usually do this in the microwave. Add marshmallows. Melt marshmallows – again, the microwave is your friend.
When the marshmallows are melted, stir them into the butter so they’re completely mixed. Stir in the vanilla. Don’t forget this step. It’s important.
Stir in the cereal and almonds. It’s a good arm workout. When it’s completely mixed, spread it into a greased baking pan and press firmly. If you don’t press the mixture in, the bars will likely fall apart. Try not to pick at the clusters of marshmallowy cereal goodness while you’re waiting. But if you do, make sure you do it evenly so no one notices.
When they’re nice and firm, cut them up into squares. Keep them in an airtight container or bag. They will keep in the freezer for several weeks. But if your family is anything like mine, these will be the first things to go on the Christmas goody tray.
- 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), see note below
- 1 pound mini marshmallows (regular marshmallows will work but take longer to melt), 16oz
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 8 cups cornflakes
- 10 ounces sliced almonds (200 grams)
Grease a 9x13" baking dish, set aside.
Melt butter in a large bowl on high heat in the microwave. Melt in 30 second increments, checking the butter and swirling the bowl after each 30 seconds. Depending on the starting temperature of your butter, it may only take 30 seconds.
Stir the marshmallows into the melted butter to coat. Return the bowl to the microwave to melt the marshmallows, again in 30 second increments at high heat. Stir after each 30 seconds. When marshmallows are melted, stir well until butter is completely incorporated into the marshmallow. Stir in vanilla.
Fold cornflakes and almonds into the marshmallow mixture. Stir well until uniform. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Press firmly into the dish, but not so firmly as to crush the cornflakes (this will be very sticky! Use the back of a large, oiled spoon or oil the palms of your hands). Let set at room temperature. Once the mixture has set, cut into squares. Store in an airtight container or bag at room temperature or in the freezer.
Either salted or unsalted butter can be used. Salted butter gives a sweet and salty element but has a higher sodium content.
Recipe can easily be halved to fit into a 9x9" pan.