For the last four days, I (Helen) have been “slaving away” on welcome baskets for our SBS students! Those of you who know me will know that this isn’t exactly a chore for me – I love all things hospitality (with the exception of cleaning). I love to make things look beautiful, and giving gifts is definitely one of my “love languages!” So for me to “slave away” on these baskets for the last four days has made for the fastest four days ever! Even though I have not met our students yet (the first one arrives tomorrow morning, and Michael and I get to pick her up at the airport!), I feel like I’ve already had this incredible opportunity to serve them and love them as I’ve put together these baskets, which I hope will make them feel at home here at YWAM Turner Valley.
One of my goals in making these baskets was to incorporate an Albertan/Canadian flavour. I did this through putting in Smarties, ketchup chips, a maple-leaf mug and… puffed wheat squares! Now, for those of you in Alberta and Western Canada, you’re probably thinking, “Puffed wheat squares? What’s the big deal? Aren’t those things everywhere?” To which I reply with sadness, “No, no, they are not.” I found this out living in Ontario. I’d bring up puffed wheat squares in conversation (clearly, I have deep and meaningful conversations), and those poor Ontarians would look at me in confusion. It turns out puffed wheat squares are a Western Canadian treat! I, of course, made it my mission to introduce puffed wheat squares to as many Ontarians as possible (that, along with the Cadillac Ranch, which turns out to be a Western Canadian thing as well!), and now I have the great pleasure of introducing our students to the western delicacy which is puffed wheat squares!
I promise this is not becoming a recipe blog (though I am involved in various hospitality tasks here at YWAM Turner Valley which could give me
an excuse a valid reason to post recipes), but for those of you who have never heard of puffed wheat squares and would like to try this exotic treat, I give you…
- 16 cups puffed wheat cereal
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1 cup butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Measure puffed wheat cereal into a very large bowl. Set aside. Prepare a large baking dish (I used an 11″ x 15″ Pyrex dish) by spraying it with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine cocoa powder, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, bring mixture to a boil. Allow mixture to boil for approximately one minute. Remove from heat.
- Pour hot mixture over puffed wheat cereal. Stir until combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, and pat it down with your hands or with the back of a wooden spoon/buttered spatula. Allow to cool (if you’re impatient like me, put it in the fridge!), then cut. Store in an airtight container, or wrap squares individually.
Makes approximately 40 small-ish puffed wheat squares. Or one giant puffed wheat square if you’re very hungry. Recipe inspired by “Chocolate Puffed Wheat Squares Recipe;” alterations to recipe inspired by comments on Allrecipes.com.
Curious about what else went into the welcome baskets for the SBS students? Well, I’m glad you asked! I’m quite proud of these baskets, which I put together on a budget of $10 per basket!
Thanks for indulging me by allowing me to share a recipe with you! Do you have any classic Canadian/Albertan recipes that I could introduce to our students over the year? Or did I miss something iconically Canadian/Albertan that I should have incorporated in our gift baskets? Let me know for future reference!