In elementary school, I learned that leprechauns are mischievous and elusive beings. Tasked with devising a leprechaun trap, however, I was unable to come up with anything more elaborate than a shoebox with some (chocolate) gold coins inside—in retrospect, this probably should have been an early indication that I was not cut out to be an engineer, which is what most of my family members are! Not surprisingly, my shoebox and chocolate coins contraption was unsuccessful, but perhaps if I had used some of this Baileys leprechaun chow as bait…
Since leprechauns are tricky little creatures, it’s fitting, in a way, that the recipe for this Baileys leprechaun chow was a bit tricky to develop. For starters, it’s problematic to incorporate liquid into a recipe for leprechaun chow (aka puppy chow, aka muddy buddies) because the cereal will inevitably absorb that liquid over time, so I cannot emphasize enough that you should plan on serving it soon after making it. I left some overnight and tried a handful the next day, and trust me, you won’t be attracting any leprechauns with that sad, stale snack.
Mixing Baileys and chocolate can also be complicated. I’ve had success in the past with adding Baileys to chocolate melted with butter, but not with adding it to pure melted chocolate. But…I usually forget this—after all, I only bring out the Baileys roughly once a year!—so of course my first attempt led to the chocolate seizing up as I watched in horror. I salvaged it by whisking in some cream, but I decided to try again with a different method to find out whether it’s possible to omit the cream. This time, I heated the Baileys and poured it over the chocolate chips; the chocolate didn’t seize, but it also didn’t have the silky, smooth texture I knew would be necessary to coat the cereal pieces. I tried again with equal parts Baileys and cream, using the same heat-and-pour method, and this time, the consistency was much better.
But let’s put aside the difficulties that using Baileys in this recipe introduces (and I hope that my trials and tribulations will help you avoid the same pitfalls!) and talk for a second about the leprechaun chow itself! The smooth flavor of Baileys subtly permeates the chocolate coating, balancing its sweetness, and you have your choice of candy additions—mint chocolate complements Baileys extremely well, and the same is true of coffee. You could also forgo the candy and add something for crunch, like roasted hazelnuts! I included rainbow-colored sprinkles for aesthetic reasons (plus, you know, leprechauns and rainbows…), but they don’t really add anything taste-wise, so feel free to skip them if you prefer. You do you!
What St. Patrick’s Day activities did you do in school as a kid? Have you ever designed a leprechaun trap? And in all seriousness, I wish I knew more about the science behind combining chocolate with liquids/fats/alcohol, so if you have any insight or can point me in the direction of a good article, please let me know!
- 4 1/2 cups corn or rice squares cereal
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sprinkles (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup chocolate candies (see note)
- Place the cereal in a large mixing bowl.
- Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Place the Baileys and heavy cream in another microwave-safe bowl and heat until it bubbles. Pour the liquid over the chocolate chips and stir to combine. Microwave the mixture for a few more seconds if the chocolate is not fully melted. Once smooth, add the mixture to the cereal and stir until the cereal is coated.
- Transfer the cereal to a large, sturdy plastic bag (or if your mixing bowl has a lid, use the lid). Add the sprinkles (if using), seal the bag, and shake until the sprinkles have stuck to the cereal. Add the powdered sugar and shake until the cereal is coated.
- Stir in the chocolate candies. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet to dry for 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately (see note).
- For the chocolate candies, I used a mixture of mint and coffee candies. Feel free to use either, both, or just plain chocolate!
- The cereal will absorb the moisture from the Baileys and the heavy cream over time, so it’s best if eaten within 3 hours. I tried omitting the cream to reduce the total volume of liquid, but without it, the chocolate and Baileys had a frosting-like consistency and did not lend itself to coating the cereal very well.