I have tried making the treats with candy-covered peanut butter pieces (1-2 cups stirred in after the cereal), white chocolate chips (1 cup stirred in after the cereal) and crushed pretzels (2 cups stirred in with the cereal), and even browned butter (increase butter to 6 Tbsp, brown over medium heat, and allow to cool slightly prior to adding the marshmallows). All of these are yummy iterations but I think that my latest, the dulce de leche variety, may be my favorite. These have a more complex sweetness, owing to the dulce de leche, and a salty note that could be your downfall, too, if you like salty-sweet flavors.
Dulce de Leche Rice Crispy Treats
6 cups rice crispy cereal
1/4 cup butter
1 10 oz package marshmallows
1/3 cup dulce de leche
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Place the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and dulce de leche when it begins to melt. Stir frequently until all of the elements homogenize, but do not allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the cereal. Add the salt when the cereal is evenly distributed in the marshmallow mixture. Spread the cereal mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Allow the treats to set before cutting.
GLUTEN NOTES: Pay attention to your crispy rice cereal. If it contains malt than it is not technically wheat free. Apparently Kellogs now makes a gluten free cereal with brown rice. There are also probably other brands.
VEGAN NOTES: Dulce de leche is not vegan, nor are marshmallows, but do not fear. I have not ever done this, but I have read that one can substitute sugar syrup for the marshmallows. Here is the recipe for vegan rice crispy treats that I will try sometime soon: 1 cup sugar syrup (rice, corn, perhaps even golden syrup--maple syrup might be too runny and honey too prominent in flavor), 1/2 cup sugar, vegan margarine, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract for the marshmallows. Heat the syrup and vegan margarine to simmer over medium heat, simmer for approximately five minutes, stir in the vanilla and pour over the rice cereal. I have read of making vegan dulce de leche with coconut milk and brown sugar, but that may be a bit beyond the characteristic symplicity of rice crispy treats. The general idea is to simmer the cream from a can of coconut milk (not light) and 1/3 cup brown sugar until it becomes thick and caramelized. This takes a long time, apparently.
© Katherine C. Otterstrom, June 2012