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Build a better cereal treat

Rice Krispies Treats Ingredients
Rice Krispies Treats IngredientsPhoto: Crystal Hessong

Cereal treats usually take the form of Rice Krispies treats made with the eponymous cereal, but you can upgrade your treats, using that brand or another type of cereal entirely to create a fun dessert that your kids can help you make and a treat that is the perfect sweet touch for packing into a lunch box. If you make your own cereal treats for your kids, you know exactly what is going into them instead of worrying about unpronounceable preservatives sometimes found in prepared cereal bars.

Because there are only three basic ingredients that go into making cereal treats, you can pick them up at any Houston-area grocery store without concern, but if you want to add some special mix-ins, try visiting Whole Foods, Georgia's Farm to Market or Central Market's bulk bins to get only the amount you need for your recipe to save money.

Rice Krispies Treats Ingredients
Rice Krispies Treats Ingredients Photo: Crystal Hessong

Rice Krispies Treats Ingredients

The basic recipe calls for you to melt together 1/4 cup of butter with a 10-ounce package of marshmallows. Stir in 6 cups of cereal and spread the mixture onto a baking sheet to cool, and cut into squares. Just about every element of this can be altered to make more flavorful treats.

Butter
Butter Photo: Crystal Hessong

Butter

Change the butter. While you do need some butter for the recipe to firm up enough to cut when cooled, you can replace some of the butter with peanut butter or another nut butter for a nutty treat. You can warm the nut butter up while melting the marshmallows to it becomes slightly thinner and mixes in more easily. Another option is to replace some of the butter with melted chocolate. If you use margarine instead of butter, your treats will be softer.

Marshmallows
Marshmallows Photo: Crystal Hessong

Marshmallows

Toss out plain marshmallows. Instead of just using miniature or plain marshmallows, consider one of the many flavored marshmallows you can get. Jet-Puft has seasonal marshmallow flavors like chocolate and vanilla swirl, and you can get fruit-flavored marshmallows all year long to make fruity treats.

Cereal
Cereal Photo: Crystal Hessong

Cereal

The most obvious change people make to the recipe is to substitute another type of cereal for Rice Krispies, but if you do this, the treats could be difficult to cut unless you slightly crush the cereal first. This is especially important with Chex-type cereals, which may not create bars that hold together well unless you crush them a little first. If you have several boxes of cereal in your pantry with less than a bowl's worth of cereal in the bottom of each. Use these in combination to create your own mixed-up cereal treats.

Chocolate Chips
Chocolate Chips Photo: Crystal Hessong

Chocolate Chips

Add-in a cup or two of just about anything you want with the cereal. If you add more than 1/2 cup of extras, reduce the amount of cereal you use by an equal amount. Keep your add-ins close to the size of the cereal for a uniform treat. If you choose to add chocolate chips, freeze them overnight before mixing them into the recipe so they will retain their shape. The same holds true for any other types of mix-ins you want to add that may melt, like whole miniature marshmallows or chocolate candies. Try hulled sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, shelled and halved peanuts, dried fruit, butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips.

Parchment Paper
Parchment Paper Photo: Crystal Hessong

Parchment Paper

Use wax paper or parchment paper to line your pans, and grease the pan you melt the butter and marshmallows in thoroughly. This will ensure that you are not left with a sticky mess that is impossible to clean in the bottom of the pan. Spraying the stirring spoon you use also prevents the sticky cereal and marshmallow mixture from turning into a glob that is stuck at the end of the spoon as you mix.