i come from a family of toast people, hole in the middle people, and leftover pizza for breakfast people. breakfast growing up was always a hot meal, save for the few bites of cold pizza that you'd eat while you waited for the rest of the slice to heat up in the microwave. the hot breakfast rule obviously extended to weekend bagels, too: if they weren't still warm from the bagel store, they got promptly toasted and served alongside whatever coffee cake or buckle that mum baked before the sun came up.
i think that for the few times when we had cereal in the house, it was probably a result of stoopie or me feeling like we *should* have it, on account of we were kids and the cookie crisp commercials during zoog disney were super catchy, and we, too, wanted to have part of that *complete breakfast*, and duh we needed the prizes that came in the box. i can remember really foaming at the mouth for peanut butter cap'n crunch, before mum got her peanut allergy, but other than that i'm pretty sure that boxes of cereal were bought on a whim, cracked into once or twice, and then left to get a little stale while we got down with scrambled eggs.
occasionally i'd have cereal in the afternoons at my friend gracie's house, which was exciting because cereal in the afternoon feels a little naughty, and her kitchen was like a cereal buffet at all times. but i always felt obligated to drink the room temperature milk at the bottom of the bowl because she did and, errrm, 😝.
since then i've used cereal in various recipes (puppy chow, rice krispies treats), but, goodness, the last time i had a bowl of cereal was probably like 20 years ago.
about a year and a half ago however, a really sweet reader emailed with the idea to make homemade cereal. "I love a bowl of homemade granola as much as the next girl but I'm thinking good old Kellogg's style breakfast cereal," she said. i loved that idea so much! partly because i'd never seen it done and partly because it'd mean i'd get to make millions of miniature baked things, and you know how i feel about miniature baked things. so for a year and a half i sat on this thought, and then around the holidays when dominique ansel had his super adorable christmas morning cereal for sale, i decided it was time to make a valentine's day cereal.
this recipe is essentially cookies. lots and lots of little crispy hazelnut cookies, hanging out with mini almond meringues that kind of turn the milk pink, and some chocolate chips and coconut. and i threw in some dried fruit for chewiness and hazelnuts to have it be something that remotely resembled a nutritious start to the day. of course, take whatever liberties you'd like with this, because you're basically making a sweet trail mix. change up the nuts, fruits, cookie shapes, and add any more goodies you'd like. the cookies take forrrever to stamp out (i used a 3/4" heart cookie cutter from michael's, but i think i need one of these cookie cutter sheets), and the meringues took kinda a while to pipe. but throw on the la la land soundtrack, hang out with your roomba daughter, and it's all very meditative and therapeutic. i recommend eating this in small quantities since it's best when it's crispy, not soggy...errr but i guess that's part of the charm in cereal? i don't know. but make a big batch, put it in cute jars, and give it as valentine's/galentine's gifts to all of your friends. and if you're a real overachiever, gift it with a bottle of homemade nut milk or fresh milk from bessy your cute pet cow.
hazelnut sugar cookie cereal
makes about 18 servings
1 batch mini sugar cookie hearts, recipe below
1 batch mini meringues, recipe below
1 c chocolate chips
1 c toasted coconut flakes
1 c toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 c dried cherries or cranberries
milk, for serving
gently combine all of the ingredients. (I ended up only using about 2/3 of the meringues because i liked that cookie:meringue ratio. the remaining meringues were kept aside for noshing and cake decorating!)
serve in a bowl with milk!
keep in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. cereal should keep for a couple of weeks.
mini sugar cookie hearts
1/2 c toasted hazelnuts
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
preheat the oven to 350ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment.
in a food processor, grind the toasted hazelnuts until they are finely ground. add the flour and salt and pulse to combine.
using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until it is pale and fluffy. add the vanilla and egg and beat well to combine. with the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating until combined.
turn the cookie dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it's 1/4" thick, use a cookie cutter to cut out tiny hearts. place the hearts on the baking sheets (they can be pretty close together), and bake until they're lightly browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes.
once all of the cookies are baked, reduce the oven to 250ºf and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes to really crisp them up. let cool on the pans.
120 grams (or about 1/2 c + 3 tb) sugar
2 large eggs whites
1/4 tsp almond extract
a tiny drop of red food coloring
preheat oven to 400ºf. distribute the sugar in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are starting to brown. while sugar is baking, crack your egg whites into a stand mixer.
once the sugar has been in the oven for a few minutes, begin beating the egg whites in a stand mixer on high until they're foamy. reduce the mixer and gradually sprinkle in the warm sugar. once all of it has been added, add the almond extract and the food coloring. beat on high for a few minutes, until the meringue is stiff, glossy, and cold.
reduce the oven to 225ºf.
prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment. fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8" or 1/4" round tip with your egg white mixture. Pipe tiny dollops onto the parchment and bake for about 20 minutes, until the mini meringues are no longer shiny and they're crispy all the way through. let cool on the pans.