This reminds me of the Gorp (Good Ole Peanuts and Raisin) I used to eat by the handful at summer camp. Almonds stand in for the peanuts and cherries for the raisins with the whole thing encased in buttery toffee. Sweet, salty, crunchy and chewy. —Laurie
packed light brown sugar
whole natural unsalted almonds
flaked sea salt
semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips (optional)
Spread Cheerios, then cherries over the bottom of a sheet pan to create a platform for the toffee (you don't need to butter or spray because the cereal will keep it from sticking).
Put butter, sugar and corn syrup into a heavy saucepan. Put over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until butter melts and it begins to boil gently (bubbles at sides and a few in the middle but not roiling). Add almonds and stir slowly and continuously at a low boil for 7-10 minutes or until caramel is dark brown and almonds are fragrant (they toast as they cook).
Immediately remove from heat, add vanilla and stir vigorously (it might sputter). Pour gently and evenly over Cheerios and cherries and smooth as best you can with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with salt and let harden in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Break into chunks with your hands or a a heavy knife.
Note: You can also add a layer of chocolate by sprinkling 3 ounces of chopped chocolate bar or chips onto the toffee before the salt. Just sprinkle the chocolate, wait a minute for it to melt and spread with a spatula or back of spoon, then add the salt.