Before I dove into clean eating instead of just “here and there/ almost never,” I was big into baking. Since my focus has shifted towards more wholesome foods, baking has taken a spot in the back of the oven, and all of my cabinets, along with my pretty-pie dishes. And with good reason: cooking nearly every night is hard enough! But when I do have the time, I’ve been dabbling with clean desserts. Some have not earned the stamp of approval by The Stud, but c’est la vie, I will keep trying and let you know.
In the meantime, I have a secret. I’m making a really unhealthy treat this weekend for the Virginia Gold Cup Races—something I’ve doubly named, “Race Track Crack.” This “crack” is an International Gold Cup Fall-favorite. I guess I started a serious tradition because people ask for it. (You can read about my recent fall Gold Cup experience and [winning!] tailgate here.) I have adapted the recipe to be gluten free, but I have not yet adapted it to be refined-sugar free. You can make it ahead of time and it’s relatively inexpensive, oh, and easy. It’s a serious grade-F on the “good for you scale,” but an A+ crowd-pleaser. So please, no judging here, okay?
Food is, after all, the essence of life. Nourishing our bodies in the right way, keeps them humming along. So while I do indulge, every once and again, whether it’s a handful of race track crack, Ketel One, or a gluten free cookie, I remember the kale the next day. Some traditions you have modify, and keep.
Recipe Report Card:
Difficulty: A+ (SUPER easy)
Amount of Pantry Staples Used: D
Stud approved: A
Taste profile: A+
Final grade: B+
Race Track Crack
adapted from Southern Living’s Graham Nut Clusters
1 box honey nut Chex*
1 ½ boxes Cinnamon Chex*
1×16 oz. canister of honey roasted peanuts
2 oz. of honey roasted pecans (or you can use normal pecans, the original recipe calls for 1 cup, if you do, coarsely chop the pecans)
½ cup almonds (I added these because I had them. The original recipe does not call for them...plus Omega3s HELLOOO)
1 bag of gluten free pretzel sticks
2 bags M&Ms
The good stuff caramel sauce:
I tripled this recipe to ensure I covered the cereal mixture, the original recipe didn’t yield enough of the good stuff.
½ c. butter (I always use unsalted)
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ c. light corn syrup
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a sheet pan or cover sheet pan in foil and then spray with pam.
Combine cereal, peanuts, pecans, almonds (if using) in a LARGE bowl. (you may want to divide over two bowls to make less of a mess)
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in sugar and corn syrup. Boil 2 minutes. Pour this mixture over the cereal mixture. Stir quickly to coat. Spread on greased/foiled sheet pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.
Transfer to wax paper (you can sometimes skip the wax paper step, I did this time and it turned out okay). LET COOL fully.
Break into pieces. Add the pretzels and M&Ms.
Make ahead options:
This mixture holds really, really well and can be made up to two days in advance.
1. I like using a mix of peanut and regular M&Ms. If you have a theme, use M&Ms in that color to add extra flair.
2. You can really use any type of cereal. The original calls for Golden Grahams. I chose Chex because they are gluten-free.