A family snack that's easy to make and store

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Here is a nifty low-sugar candy that's great for hungry hikers, families on car trips, and children after school. It's easy to make, keeps well if refrigerated, and is capable of many variations. This particular recipe comes from southern India and is called Halva. The basic version can be varied by adding almonds, walnuts, or other nuts. Halva 3 cups instant Cream of Wheat cereal 2 teaspoons ground cardamom 1/2 cup dried coconut, optional 1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional 1 can sweetened condensed milk 3/4 cup water, to rinse out can 4 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 teaspoons vanilla

Measure first 4 ingredients into large bowl and stir together. In medium sized saucepan, combine can of condensed milk with water used to rinse out can. Add butter. Stir well and bring to boil. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from stove. Add vanilla. Pour hot mixture into dry cereal, stirring briskly until all cereal is dampened and mixture is a thick batter.

Spread evenly into lightly buttered 9-by-11-inch pan. Cut immediately into diamond or square pieces and refrigerate until cool. Makes 60 to 70 pieces. Flavor improves with refrigeration overnight.

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This version adds chocolate and peanut butter to the basic halva recipe. The 3/4 cup water is increased to 1 cup. Choco-peanut Balls

Mix 1/3 cup cocoa with butter, 1 cup water, and milk in saucepan and bring to boil, stirring. Boil 3 minutes, then add vanilla and 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter. Stir quickly until peanut butter is dissolved.

Remove from range and combine with cereal mixture. Stir vigorously until all cereal is dampened. Cool mixture, then spread on wax paper. Shape candy into balls. These may be rolled in powdered sugar, chopped peanuts, or coconut for a more festive appearance.

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