I don’t know how it happened, but I was in middle school before I had a Rice Krispy Treat. I took my first sweet bite from a treat I picked up at a school bake sale, after which my taste buds commanded my brain to seek out more of this delicacy whenever possible. It’s a testament to a young boy’s willpower that I didn’t go back to steal more from those nice ladies at the bake sale table.
Having never made them myself, I was in college when I first learned how easy it is to put together Rice Krispy Treats. However, I only made a few batches before my sweet tooth took a back seat to cravings for more adult flavors, like a good hoppy beer or the exotic taste of Indian food.
Somewhere in there I also started watching Good Eats, which is when I first saw Power Trip, the episode about crafting homemade granola bars, protein bars, and brown rice crispy bars. This episode really caught my attention, mostly because I was becoming more health conscious and never thought to cook up my own granola bars. Along with that, I was really intrigued with the recipe Alton provides to make a more wholesome version of Rice Krispy Treats. I just had to try it.
His recipes were delicious. They tasted a lot healthier, with the dried fruits providing a more balanced sweetness than just marshmallow, and the puffed brown rice added a nutty depth of flavor that was very much welcomed by my taste buds. I was hooked.
Only recently did I make them again, and boy was my brain firing this time. The possible variations for both healthy(ish) and decadent versions of this classic treat were really flowing, and that’s where my elastic recipe originated.
Healthy(ish) Elastic Cereal Bars
- 3 Tbs oil (use one with low saturated fats, like canola oil)
- 3 cups miniature marshmallows
- 6 cups low sugar cereal (puffed brown rice, puffed kamut, puffed wheat, Kashi, Wheaties, Total, Special K)
- 1 Tbs honey (keeps it moist and chewy)
- 3/4 cup nuts (slivered or chopped almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds)
- 1 cup dried chopped fruit (raisins, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, apricots, apples, dates, bananas)
- 2 tsp extracts or flavorings (vanilla, almond, maple, lemon, orange, cinnamon, anise)
- 3 Tbs nut butter (soy, cashew, almond)
Decadent Elastic Cereal Bars
- 3 Tbs butter
- 6 cups miniature marshmallows (up from 3 cups in the previous version)
- 6 cups cereal (use any from other list, or something that will give you a sugar rush like Cocoa Puffs, Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams, Pops, Froot Loops)
- 1 cup candies (milk, white chocolate or butterscotch chips, M&Ms)
- 1 package pudding mix
Begin by lining a rectangular baking dish with plastic wrap. Add one tablespoon of a neutral oil (like canola) to coat the plastic wrap.
If using puffed brown rice, wheat, or kamut, I recommend toasting your cereal in a 400ºF oven for four minutes, stirring once half-way through. This will give it a nice deep flavor.
Heat your oil, marshmallows, and honey over a double boiler (any wide metal bowl over a pot of simmering water will work) on low heat. Stir until marshmallows have melted into a gooey consistency.
Add in liquids or anything that needs to melt, like chocolate or flavored chips, nut butter, pudding mix or extracts, and stir to combine with a rubber or latex spatula. Turn off heat and add in any other ingredients and your cereal, then continue stirring until well combined.
Using cooking oil, lubricate your hands and scoop out mixture, pressing it into the prepared dish. Flatten with your hands, pushing ingredients into the corners of the pan. Set aside to cool for at least an hour, then pull out hardened mixture using the plastic wrap as a handle. Cut into bars and store for up to two weeks.
- (pictured above) puffed wheat, almond slivers, dried blueberries, dried cranberries
- (pictured above) golden grahams, chocolate chips, extra layer of melted marshmallows in the middle
- Cheerios, nut butter, raisins, cashews, M&Ms, mini pretzels
- puffed kamut, toasted chopped nuts, maple flavoring
- puffed brown rice, sliced almonds, dried cherries, almond extract
- Rice Krispies, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds