A vacation at the beach wouldn't be complete, at least for kids, without building a sand castle. I can remember spending the afternoon sitting in the warm sand listening to the ocean waves crash against the shore while shoveling sand in to buckets and sand molds and painstakingly constructing my own castle, trying to hurry before the tide moved in and took my creation back out into the deep blue sea.
It's been a long (oh, so very long) time since I played in the sand like that, but just recently I had the amazing opportunity to visit and sleep in a castle.
Well, actually the building we stayed in is a 19th-century castellated house, but it was an exciting experience just the same. It looks like a castle, right? Castell Deudraeth was our home for two spectacular nights while we visited the village of Portmeirion in Wales. The village is on a cliff overlooking and estuary that leads to the Irish Sea.
If we hadn't been so busy, hiking and dining during our stay, (the food was fabulous,) we could have gone down to the beach and spent a lazy afternoon building a sand castle. Instead, I decided to wait until I got home and make one in my kitchen.
I found my culinary inspiration in sand molds, once again. There are just so many clever culinary uses for those simple plastic beach toys. So far, I've used them to create Marshmallow Sea Creatures and Peanut Butter Fudge Starfish; today I'll show you how to make a caramelized cereal treat using a sand castle mold.
This crispy treat recipe, from Mouldings, Inc., has been in my recipe box since the early 90's. The company used to make plastic molds for the purpose of creating crispy treats, microwave cakes, jello and more. Sadly, I haven't seen these molds in stores in many years; I did, however, find the set, pictured here, for sale on Overstock.com, if you are interested. I have many of these molds, and love using them, but discovered the sand molds work just as well for crispy treats.
You could use any shape sand mold to make your caramel rice cereal treats. I chose to make a castle which can be used for quite a variety of occasions:
- beach or pool party (use sand and sea shells)
- Father's Day (add some flags that say, "Dad, you are the king of our castle)
- princess party (eliminate the sand and add some colorful flags or banners)
- Renaissance festival event (eliminate the sand and add a moat)
- Halloween party (use Cocoa Krispies to make a dark and sinister looking castle)
As a matter of fact, my friend is hosting a Renaissance party this weekend so I gave her the castle to display along with her other desserts. I can't wait to hear what her guests think about it.
UPDATE: I recently had a conversation with a reader who was concerned that these molds are not labeled as food safe; she suggested lining them with plastic wrap. I thought that was a really great suggestion. I also had a reader ask if the traditional rice krispies treat recipe would work for this project. So ...
I tested both, the plastic wrap and the traditional recipe, and happily both worked perfectly. Just know that it will take 3 full recipes of the marshmallow cereal treats to create this castle.
The pictures below were made using the caramel rice cereal treats in this recipe, but were molded without the use of plastic wrap.
Cereal Treat Sand Castle (serves 18-24)
19 cups (18 ounce box) crisp rice cereal (Rice Krispies Cereal)
2 sticks butter (8 ounces)
2 cups light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
optional, sandy crumbs from cereal or cookies
medium saucepan with lid
heatproof spatula or wooden spoon (it is best to butter it)
sand castle molds, washed and dried*
optional, sea shells
*I have found these plastic beach toys in discount stores, dollar stores, department stores and even drug stores. They are easy to find all summer long. The actual molds I used were purchased for $1.59 at the Christmas Tree Shop last summer.
Pour crisp rice cereal in very large heatproof bowl.
Cut butter into small pieces. Place butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring as needed, until butter melts and mixture begins to bubble around the edges. Place lid on pan for one minute. Remove lid and allow to boil for 2 more minutes, without stirring.
Remove from heat and add sweetened condensed milk, stir to combine. Return to medium heat and allow to boil for three minutes. Remove and immediately pour over crisp rice cereal. Don't scrape the bottom of the pan.
Use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir the cereal until it is well coated with the caramel. This mixture will be extremely hot, so be careful not to touch it. Allow mixture to cool, stirring it a frequently, until you can easily touch it. Just don't let it cool too much or it will get too hard and wont be easy to press into the molds.
LINE YOUR SAND MOLDS WITH PLASTIC WRAP AS PICTURED ABOVE!
Then spoon some of the cereal treat mixture into your plastic mold. Press down firmly making sure the caramelized cereal fills all the crevices. Fill each mold to the top and press down using your spatula or spoon to really compress the cereal in the mold.
Note: I started by using a sand castle mold that was about 4" long, but found the features of the castle wall were just too small to really show up well, so I decided to use a larger set of molds. I made the first piece, pictured in the upper right hand corner, and didn't make sure to really press the cereal mixture into all the crevices in the mold. As you'll see with the pictures below, I did a much better job filling the molds so all the details really showed up. I was even able to fix the first one.
To un-mold the cereal treats, just turn the mold upside down and shake. The molded piece should fall right out. If it doesn't, pull the sides of the plastic mold away from the cereal treat and shake gently and it should fall out. You can spray your molds with cooking spray, but I found it unnecessary.
Assemble your castle however you'd like. My sand mold set really didn't have much to work with; I couldn't figure out how to add any of the square pieces (see the orange sand mold in one of the pictures above,) so my castle is just a large rectangle with a lovely large courtyard. Each set of sand castle molds will be different, so you can get as creative as you'd like with your castle.
Nordic Ware Castle Bundt pans, you could use the cereal treat recipe in it as well. It will make a really great looking castle. Of course, buying this pan may cost more than sand molds, but the shape is really nice. I've included some links for castle sand molds below, but I couldn't find the exact molds that I used.
You can display your cereal treat sand castle on a large cutting board, on a cardboard cake board, or just on a table covered with edible sand (I used crushed Rice Krispies.)
Keep your crispy castle stored in an airtight container for a week or more. I used to make bunny shaped caramel crispy treats using this recipe every year at Easter and packaged them in cellophane bags and they would keep for several weeks.
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Molds that could be used for this project that are available on Amazon.com.