I confess, I have an inner hippie. I mean, I lived in Vermont for four years, what can you expect? She loves to frolic around in nature, talk to plants, and, such as in this case, likes to put a twist on certain recipes to make them a little more mind/body/soul friendly.
She surfaced recently when I wanted to make Rice Crispie Treats for a potluck dinner. I knew I had everything to make a batch at home minus the marshmallows; a pivotal ingredient in this childhood treat. But in both an effort to avoid the store and to improvise, I started thinking about how I could recreate this treat without including the highly processed white puff of an ingredient. Don't get me wrong, I love a good toasted marshmallow, s'more, or old-fashioned Crispie Treat. But if we can avoid ingesting things like, say, tetrasodium pyrophosphate when we don't have to, why not see if something else could do the trick as well?
I had been planning to make a peanut butter version of the treats anyway, so I started with that as a base of the binding ingredients to hold these bars together. To keep with the theme, I used natural peanut butter which contains only ground up peanuts and salt. Honey came in next, and some butter to pull all of the ingredients together. For the dry ingredients, I substituted part of the rice crispies with rolled oats, and added dried cranberries for a contrasting tart/sweet taste, and chocolate chips too because, well, who doesn't like the combo of chocolate and peanut butter?
I had created an almost granola-ish cousin of the Rice Crispie Treat, with all honest ingredients that we can all pronounce and recognize. My inner hippie was proud. And you will be too regardless if you have your own inner hippie or not, since at the end of it all these bars are just plain simple, delicious, and worth making no matter what.
Rice Hippie Treats
My favorite way to eat these is a little cold right from the fridge. Mmmm
4 cups rice crispie cereal
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Butter a 9x13 baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Combine rice cripsies, oats, cranberries, and chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine the peanut butter, honey, and butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until all is melted and combined.
Pour peanut butter mixture over rice crispie mixture and stir to evenly coat the dry ingredients. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and pat down evenly with a buttered or non-stick sprayed spatula (or else the treats will stick and the spreading will not be fun).
Store bars in the fridge to set. Cut into squares and enjoy. In your Birkenstocks.