Eliza Enstine was thinking about creating a white chocolate peanut butter snack for herself — something she had been unable to find on supermarket shelves. She was contemplating mixing the two ingredients into a bowl of popcorn and was seeking a recipe online when the answer came to her via a banner ad.
“The ad said, ‘Make Chex Mix, win money;’ I was like ‘I can do that,’” Enstine said.
She began brainstorming with her co-workers at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, where she works as cytotechnologist, and came up with three entries to submit to the Chex competition. Out of the three recipes entered, Enstine’s dream snack of white chocolate peanut butter has been named as one of five finalists nationwide. Her other entries were white chocolate-coated Chex mixed with York Peppermint pieces and almonds and peanut butter-coated Chex mixed with banana chips and chocolate-coated peanuts. She has since come up with new ideas for snack, including one reminiscent of a cinnamon roll.
“I like to bake, but I don’t usually try to come up with my own recipes for things…. In this recipe there was not a whole lot of baking involved so it is fairly easy to do,” said Enstine, of Manchester.
A certain amount of Chex had to be used in each entry, with the recipe taking no more than 15 minutes to put together in the Chex test kitchen.
“I couldn’t actually manage to do that in my kitchen, but it’s pretty close,” Enstine said. “Those people are professionals; they can do it.”
Enstine said her kitchen quickly turned into her own Chex Mix laboratory while she sought out the perfect snack combination. She still has stacks of Chex cereal boxes and ingredients in her cabinets. Since she was named a finalist, Enstine said, the company has sent her an envelope filled with coupons for the cereal.
“I’m known as the girl who buys all the Chex now,” Enstine said.
Enstine offered a Chex Mix making tip: mix the candy and nuts with the Chex while the coating is still warm.
“That way it kind of sticks together,” she said. “Otherwise the candy and nuts will fall down to the bottom of the bowl.”
Her recipe stands out from the other finalists’ entries because it is sweet, Enstine said.
“It’s chocolatey but not like a dark chocolate,” she said. “And it’s nice that this happened in the fall because it has kind of a Halloween candy feeling to it. It has all those fall colors in it.”
Should she win, Enstine already has plans for the $5,000 grand prize.
“I’m in graduate school [for biomedical laboratory operations] right now,” she said. “That will help with tuition a little bit.”
Online voting for the best Chex Mix recipe will continue until Wednesday, Dec. 15, and the winner will be announced Friday, Jan. 17.