Bring it back to the old school

My parents have come and gone in a whirlwind of Roger's golden syrup and jam, sightseeing and dinners out. After a week of eating well (both in terms of quality and quantity), the dust and my stomach are slowly beginning to settle. In search of a light, easy snack to begin the new week, I dug deep into the recipe archives to bring it back to the old school.

I had a tentative childhood relationship with Puffed Wheat Squares, unable to come down clearly for or against the sticky treat. Sure there was the sweet cocoa coating, but fundamentally my mother was trying to pass off grains as dessert. Then we moved away from the farm and, as a city kid, Puffed Wheat Squares disappeared from my lexicon.*

Thanks to S., my Saskatchewan housemate at university, the square and I were reintroduced. This time, I had no qualms about declaring my affection. You could chalk it up to nostalgia, but let's give taste and texture the credit they're due. Think Rice Krispie squares, but chocolate and chewy.

Puffed Wheat Squares

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups puffed wheat

Measure out puffed wheat in a heatproof bowl. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Set both aside.

Combine butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes before removing from heat. Add vanilla and stir briefly to combine.

Pour the hot mixture over the puffed wheat and quickly stir to coat evenly. Pour the coated cereal into the greased baking pan and use a damp spoon or hands to press the mixture evenly into the pan.

Cool and slice.

*Strange but true: In my experience, Puffed Wheat Squares (also called Puffed Wheat Cake) is a distinctly rural Canadian phenomenon. Nearly everyone I meet who is familiar with the square hails from Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Discuss.