Peek into most pantries, or kitchen shelves, and you'll find a box of cereal. I'm not a big cereal eater in general, but even I usually have a box of some simple kind of cereal stashed away. Cereal seems like the culinary equivalent of an umbrella: Even if you don't remember buying it, there's usually one in the closet.
Whether or not you eat a morning bowl of it, I'd like you to consider a new use for cereal. Today's recipe is a mash-up from a few sources of inspiration: The base is a riff on a killer muffin recipe from Vermont Creamery, which I've transformed into a tender, vanilla bean-flecked dessert that resembles a pound cake in its meltingly dense texture. The topping is inspired by the Ovenly blueberry cornflake muffins that my local coffee shop carries.
The idea of using cereal to make a streusel isn't strange, considering many streusels already call for a breakfast staple: rolled oats. Making a cereal streusel is faster and easier than most though. Just crunch up cereal with some sugar, flaky salt, and softened butter. Spread it over your batter and ta-da!, you've got an addictively crunchy golden topping.
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Corn Chex is my cereal of choice for streusel toppings. I love the nutty flavor the corn adds, plus the waffled texture of Chex gives extra crunch to the streusel, especially if you don't fully crush the cereal. That being said, you can certainly try this technique with anything from crisped rice cereal to any sort of flaked cereal to even Shredded Wheat.
On the left is vanilla, on the right is chocolate, everywhere is streusel.Photo by Posie Harwood
While I highly recommend trying this vanilla-crème fraîche cake recipe, you can also use this streusel recipe on top of muffins (I like it on chocolate muffins!), other simple cakes, or quick breads (a banana bread would be a good partner). You can also opt to spread the streusel on a parchment-lined baking sheet, bake it until golden, and then use it to top anything from a bowl of yogurt to vanilla ice cream.