April 2, 2012

Chocolate rice crispy treats

Do you like "rice krispies"?  Since I didn't arrive in the States until the age of eight, I came into rice crispy treats a little later in life.  I think I've been relatively ambivalent about them.  They're good but I thought they were a bit too sweet straight out of the packet.  But in the last year or so, I feel like I've been re-introduced to the simplicity and tastiness of simple American ingredients like peanut butter and crisp rice cereal
So I recently asked my six-year old if he thinks he'd like rice crispy treats with chocolate (he hasn't really been a fan of the plain version).  I told him I was thinking of making some and he said to me:  "I don't know but I think I'll like it since I like everything chocolate."  Well, that's true for both of us and it was my thought exactly.  This recipe comes from Martha Stewart  and it basically takes a cocoa-bittersweet chocolate spin on the classic.  You've still got that lovely gooey, chewy crispiness we know and love, but on top of that is the bonus chocolate flavor from unsweetened cocoa powder stirred into the mix and melted bittersweet chocolate poured over the top. 
This is a nice little treat to make with and for little ones.  But frankly, adults (like my husband and I) couldn't stop eating them.  They are goood.  I love the classic crisp/chewy texture and the cocoa-chocolate flavor in these.  I threw in a pinch of salt to liven things up just a little, and the result is not too sweet.  Should you want to make things even easier and skip the chocolate drizzle over the top, you could stir in some mini chocolate chips with the cereal instead, but I like how these looked and tasted.   
I recommend making up a batch and sharing with both young and old(er).

Rice crispy treats are a quick mix - a great little cooking project to do with children since they can help with their hands and the treats are ready to eat in short order.  

I started by buttering an 8-inch square baking pan.  You could use a 9-inch and I'd probably go that route but it depends on whether you want a taller or shorter rice crispy treat.  Line the pan with a piece of parchment with about a 2-inch overhang on two sides, and grease the paper.

Into a big, heavy-bottomed pot, add 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, one 10.5 ounce bag of mini marshmallows, and 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.  I also threw in a nice pinch of salt (about 1/4 teaspoon). 
On medium-heat, cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth.  This takes about 6-8 minutes.
Turn off the heat and immediately add 6 cups of crisp rice cereal (I used the "snap, crackle, and pop").   
Stir to combine thoroughly.  It looks like a lot but it does all fit into the pan.  (Alternatively, if you want to skip the chocolate coating on top, here's where you could stir in about 3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips instead.) 
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  (I stole a taste of the bits and pieces left in the pan and knew I was in trouble.)  Wet a clean hand with cold water and press the mixture down to spread evenly throughout the pan.  You could also spray a spatula with some cooking spray and use that to press the mixture down.  For the finale, drizzle/pour 2 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate all over the top of the mixture. 
Let the pan sit until the mixture cools down to room temperature and the chocolate on top sets.  The cooling down process takes a bit longer because the chocolate needs to set.  Depending on the temperature in the house, an hour is more than enough.  
Then, pull the rice crispy treat out of the pan using the overhang and slice to any size/shape you desire.
I asked the little one if he liked these or the peanut butter crispy bars more.  He said he liked both but these more!  Well now...that's a compliment.  I guess you just can't mess with a classic - unless it's to add a little chocolate to it! 


Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats
Adapted from Martha Stewart

- Yields 9 large or 16 small treats, depending on your preference -

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 bag (10.5 oz.) mini marshmallows
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 cups crisp rice cereal
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted*

* For another alternative, you could substitute the bittersweet chocolate drizzle on top with about 3/4 cups mini chocolate chips stirred in with the rice cereal. 

Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan.  Line with a piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides.  Grease the paper, and set aside. 

Place butter, marshmallows, cocoa powder, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth.  This takes about 6-8 minutes.

Turn off the heat and immediately add the rice cereal.  Stir well to combine.  Gently press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan using wet hands or a greased spatula (avoid pressing down too hard or the treats could be too dense and hard).  Drizzle the melted chocolate all over the top.  Let the mixture sit until it's room temperature and the chocolate has set.  Lift out of the pan and slice to desired number.

The treats can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 5 days.  (If it's very warm, I would store them in the refrigerator.)

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