Easter is just a week away, but don’t panic just yet. You still have plenty of time to make delicious treats to fill your family members’ Easter baskets.
One of the easiest things to make are cereal treats. Depending on the ingredients you choose, you can make these snacks as healthy or as decadent as you want. This recipe is good because it gives you a lot of freedom to play with the ingredients in several ways, but before you start tossing everything in the pantry into your bowl of cereal treats mix, (also known as Rice Krispies Treats) understand the components of the recipe and what each one does.
Butter is what greases the entire machine and helps to add flavor to the treats. Most recipes call for between 3 tablespoons and 1/4 cup of butter, which you melt down in a pan. The butter also prevents the melted marshmallows from sticking to the inside of the pan and creating a sticky mess. If you want to make your treats healthier, reduce the butter to 3 tablespoons, but do not eliminate it or substitute tub margarine for the butter. The recipe requires the fat in real butter to provide the flavor and softer texture expected. For more flavor, use the stovetop method and continue to heat the butter until it browns slightly and releases a slightly nutty aroma. Doing so will automatically elevate your treats from a kid’s snack to an adult indulgence.
This binding ingredient holds everything together while giving the treats their flavor. Most recipes only require four or five cups of miniature marshmallows, which is usually just less than one full 10-oz bag. With the plethora of marshmallow flavors available, you can change up this component in many ways. Opt for fruit-flavored miniature marshmallows for a different flavor, but be sure to choose a cereal that will complement the taste. Look for the seasonal Jet-Puffed marshmallow flavors in Houston-area grocery stores such as HEB and Kroger for more options in this category. Of course, with Easter just around the corner, you can always try your hand at melting down Peeps for this recipe, too, but many people have had varying levels of success with that.
This is where you can really have fun with the recipe. You can use almost any ready-to-eat breakfast cereal on the shelf for this. If you want to stay traditional, choose Rice Krispies and use 6 cups, but you could also substitute Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles, Cheerios, Lucky Charms or even Honeycomb. Most traditional recipes use some type of puffed cereal, which adds lightness to the recipe, but feel free to use flaked cereals, too, such as bran flakes, Special K or Frosted Flakes. The treats will be denser when make with a flaked cereal, but they might also be healthier since many flaked cereals have less sugar than their puffy counterparts.
If you opt to stray from the original recipe, replace one cup of cereal with an add-in of your choice. These could be chocolate chips, extra miniature marshmallows, raisins, dried cranberries, M&M chocolate candies or other bit-sized candies. If you choose to use chocolate candies or chips, refrigerate them before mixing them into the melted marshmallow and cereal mix. This will help them to remain intact and not turn into a gooey, chocolately spread that is evenly distributed throughout the treats – unless you want that. One tablespoon of cocoa powder or peanut butter added to the melted marshmallows also boosts the flavor of the treats.
Everything Comes Together
Bringing all of this together into the treats recipe, you have just a few short steps to your own Easter snack goodness.
Cereal Treats Recipe
3-4 tablespoons butter
4-5 cups miniature marshmallows (about a 10-oz. bag)
6 cups cereal (or 5 cups cereal and 1 cup add-ins of your choice)
1) Line a baking pan with parchment or wax paper.
2) Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish in the microwave on high power for up to one minute. Alternatively, you could melt the butter on the stove.
3) Add the marshmallows and melt in one-minute increments in the microwave on high power, stirring after each time until the marshmallows and butter are completely melted and smooth.
4) Stir the cereal and add-ins of your choice into the bowl until everything is coated.
5) Spread the cereal treat mixture onto the paper-lined baking pan. Cover it with a second sheet of wax or parchment paper and use a second baking pan on top to press the treats mixture flat.
6) Allow the treats to cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.