Rocky Road Tingalings

tingaling trio

We play cards at church occasionally and tonight is the night. The game is 500, and Ken and I aren’t very good at it. Truthfully, we almost always lose, but somehow I still consider it all good. Each couple brings a snack to share, so that’s fun, right? And we change tables now and then so that other people have a chance to beat us. We’re equal opportunity losers!

So what am I bringing? Rocky Road Tingalings! You already read that, didn’t you? Well, they’re finger food, which is important. And the chocolate keeps my seratonin up so I don’t feel the pain of losing over and over, hand after hand.

1 lonely tingaling

tray of treats

3 tingalings

mix until coated

plop, drop and set up

a tingaling

Tingalings translated means “random food mixed into melted chocolate.” Today people sometimes call them “Haystacks.” But one important difference is that haystacks often use Fiber 1 cereal instead of the traditional chow mein noodles.
I toyed with using the Fiber 1 cereal, but then I thought it would slow down the card playing, with people running back and forth to the bathroom all night. And someone might say I was being “passive-agressive” putting high fiber into the treats as punishment for always beating us. So, I stuck with the chow mein noodles left over from all those lenten tuna-rice casseroles and used the traditional name Tingalings.

Note: if you need gluten-free treats, skip the noodles and toss in some GF chex cereal. You GF folks will figure that out, right?
2 cups (12 oz) chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 cups chow mein noodles
1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts (or whatever nuts you like)
2 cups mini marshmallows

Melt the chocolate in the microwave 30 seconds at a time.
After about a minute, you can start to stir the chocolate. Continue heating until it’s all melted.
Add the other ingredients and hand mix well until all is coated with chocolate.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
Let it set up or pop into the fridge if you need a chocolate fix.

Experiment with peanut butter in addition to the chocolate.
Use butterscotch chips instead of or in addition to the chocolate chips.
Add dried fruits and/or other nuts.
Add quick oats or coconut.

Tingalings are a versatile and easy snack to make. Search your cupboards to see what’s available and have fun with combinations. But if you see me playing cards with chocolate on my face, be gentle.

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Crispy Caramel Haystacks

I like caramel, but I LOVE it when it’s in the arms of dark chocolate. An admission: I think not liking chocolate is a character flaw. There – I’ve said it out loud. Gasp.

almost like turtles

Yes, I’m prejudiced – and judgemental. How does a person pass up a chocolate dessert? Or an offer to bake something with chocolate in it? It’s a mystery to my chocolate-coated brain. Perhaps these people were dropped on their heads as infants. (No wait, I never dropped my middle child and he prefers vanilla.) OK, I’ll show tolerance, even if I cannot embrace understanding…for the sake of world peace.
This leads me to explain why I made another baked item that contained no chocolate.
In January, I pledged to bake six times as part of a fund raiser for my church. It was a fun auction and the winners paid $275, so I try to do my best work, which is play for me. I lent them a book of cookie recipes I rarely use to encourage my brain to try new items. I dreamed of being up to my elbows in dark chocolate chips, dreamy double chocolate dough, or fudgy frostings. But they chose no chocolate! Can you imagine? They seem like nice, normal people, so I’ll let the “no chocolate” quirk slide – this time. Crispy Caramel Haystacks were their fifth pick. The others have all been chocolate free.

a pan of marshmallows

Crispy Caramel Haystacks are very gooey, sticky little treats that are similar to a Ting-a-ling. Make them in two steps and work quickly.
They are from “500 Best Cookies, Bars and Squares,” by Esther Brody. (Don’t you wonder how many cookies she tried and tasted to find the 500 best? And she has several other cookbooks out. This is a lady who loves to bake!)

add chow mein noodles

drop by spoonfuls

drizzle caramel on top

caramel haystacks

Ingredients for about 24 haystacks
2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
3 TBS butter
2 cups chow mein noodles
12 caramels – unwrapped (Duh Clare!)
1 TBS water
2 TBS peanut butter

Line a baking sheet with wax paper – or use butter to grease a baking sheet.
In a large saucepan, over very low heat, melt the marshmallows and butter. Stir constantly until smooth. Remove from heat.
Add chow mein noodles and mix until evenly coated.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the wax paper. (If the mixture sets up too quickly, put it back on a very low burner for a minute.)
Melt the caramels, water and peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until smooth.
Drizzle caramel mixture over the haystacks. Actually, it’s more like plop the caramels on the top of the stacks.
Refrigerate until firm.

This sticky-sweet treat will be one caramel lovers will adore. The crunchy chow mein noodle base makes for a very satisfying chewy treat. As for me, next time I’ll dip them in chocolate.

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