Rice Crispy Treats hold specific childhood sensory memories for me, and probably for a lot of adults as well. This sticky, sweet, crunchy, crispy, gooey, on-the-go, lick-your-fingers-afterwards, all at the same time experience is what childhood was all about. I got this recipe for a similar treat from my friend Marjorie awhile ago, and hadn’t had quite the right reason to make it till now. Brown rice syrup is much easier for your body to process than the cane sugar and additives that are in most baked goods. Since these rice crispies are stuck together and sweetened with the sweet syrup, they are a much healthier version than the traditional marshmallow dessert. However, these bars definitely don’t taste exactly like the marshmallow version; they aren’t as sickeningly sweet and they have the added tart flavors of dried fruit and the crunch of seeds, as well as the salty nutty taste of tahini. They are not kid-friendly in this sense, unless you have a particularly adventurous child.
This was lucky for me, as Marjorie used to make these and her kids wouldn’t want to eat them, so there were always some left for me to snack on! I would want to devour the whole container while I was at her house, but I’d hold myself back and enjoy these simple flavors and textures slowly. It’s very simple and nutritious – it’s one of those treats that is actually pretty healthy, although you do have to remember it’s a treat still, so you shouldn’t eat too much at a time…It was a perfect treat to take on a hike; it was a bit like an energy bar because it had all the necessary proteins and carbs to give us strength and energy to keep going, it was light and easy to pack and carry, and it satisfied all our sweet and salty cravings. And it was quite filling too!
You can make it with whatever dried fruits you like best (I think that currants, apricots, raisins, or dried apples would taste delicious) and whatever seeds or chopped nuts you want to add would work too. While I just used crispy brown rice cereal as my base, you could throw in a combination of puffed rice, puffed millet, and puffed rice as well, as long as it equaled the same total amount. It’s a very adaptable recipe.
This recipe makes 2 dozen squares.
2 tsp. cold-pressed sesame oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 Tblsp. sesame tahini (or other nut butter of choice)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 cups plain unsweetened crispy brown rice cereal
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
In a large pot, heat oil, rice syrup, and tahini; stir until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Add remaining ingredients, mixing well with a wooden spoon.
Spoon mixture into a 13×9 inch pan and press flat. Allow to sit at room temperature until set.
Then, cut into squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature.