Published December 27th, 2016 at 10:00 AM
For many in Kansas City, the holiday season is not about red and green. It’s about shocking pink — impossible, neon pink. The kind of pink that is hidden beneath a crunchy circle of chocolate-enrobed peanuts. We’re talking about Cherry Mash, the singular candy still made in St. Joseph, Missouri, as it has been for nearly 100 years.
The bon bon-shaped confection with a flat bottom is not just sweet, it’s fairytale sweet. The pink in the candy comes from a soft center chock full of maraschino cherries. And here at Flatland, we decided to make our own version. Rather than exactly recreating the candy — we had an unfortunate incident many Easters ago attempting to reverse engineer Cadbury Creme Eggs — we wanted to capture its essence.
And so, Cheery Mash Bars happened. These pop with color thanks to cherry chips, while getting a rounded sweetness from marshmallows and butter. For traditionalists, they are still dentist-visit sweet, but they’re also ready to bring on a platter to a party. These are easy to make and the trip to the grocery store will take as long as the actual baking. Start creating some new holiday traditions with Cheery Mash Bars.
1/4 cup Half-and-Half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cherry chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
Line a 8×8-inch glass baking dish with wax paper. Set aside.
Add the Half-and-Half, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, and salt to a medium saucepan. Melt together over high heat. Bring to a boil for five minutes and the remove the saucepan from the heat.
Stir in the cherry chips and mini marshmallows until all of the ingredients are evenly combined. Pour the mixture into the 8×8 baking pan. Use a spatula or shake it gently to ensure that it is evenly spread throughout the pan. Set the pan aside to let the mixture cool.
Add the chocolate chips and peanut butter to a small saucepan on low to medium heat. Allow the chips to melt, stirring occasionally. Once the chips are melted and thoroughly combined with the peanut butter, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the peanuts. Pour the peanut butter and chocolate chip mixture over the cherry layer in the baking pan. Let cool on the counter for 30 minutes before placing in the refrigerator to cool for an additional 3 to 4 hours.
Once the top feels firm to the touch, you can slice into bars. Enjoy.
For the diabetics in the crowd can Splenda be substituted for the sugar?
You should be able to substitute in Splenda. Happy baking. -Jonathan Bender