This past week has brought a doozy of a heat wave to Southern California. And while, admittedly, I do still turn on the oven from time to time even in the most blistering of heat. I really do try to save creating an extra warm kitchen only for the most important of baking occasions (ie. these cookies). So, the solution to maintaining a good supply of sweet treats, whilst avoiding having to standing near a hot oven (as much as possible), is to bust out those “no-bake” recipes! Plus, who doesn’t love a good no-bake treat?! A good bake-free dessert is usually quick, easy, and delicious in it’s simplicity. And in my opinion, Rice Krispies Treats, are the perfect embodiment of that sentiment. So, for today’s recipe, I’m taking inspiration from that classic dessert, but giving it a major upgrade and a healthier twist. I wanted to make my version of the classic Rice Krispies Treat, (typically made with crispy rice cereal, butter, and melted marshmallows) equally as simple and tasty, but just a wee bit grown up. Instead of the marshmallow binding, I use tahini and maple syrup to create some gooey goodness to keep the crispy rice cereal together. And then I top it off with a layer of dark chocolate and a smattering of sea salt. The outcome is a deliciously satisfying bar that hits all the good snacky spots – a dose of sweet (but not too much), crunchy (from the crispy cereal), chewy (that maple tahini binding), and just a touch of salty. Yep, these Tahini Rice Crispy Treats might just be the most perfect no-bake treat I’ve had in recent memory.
These rice crispy treats are made healthier by using a brown rice crispy cereal that contains just a few simple ingredients. The classic Kellogg’s version, contains malt flavor and a variety of other additives (mostly vitamins and minerals). I always prefer to buy products that contain as minimal ingredients as possible. I tested this recipe with two different types of comparable crispy rice cereals. One from Whole Food’s 365 brand called Brown Rice Crisps and another by One Degree Organics called Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps. Both of these cereals were organic, made with whole grain brown rice, contained only three/four total ingredients, and had less sugar than the conventional version. Both resulted in delicious rice crispy bars, but I preferred the Whole Food’s version. It was almost exactly like the classic blue box kind I ate, almost daily, as a kid and maintained it’s crunch just a little better in this recipe. Here’s a comparison of the ingredients:
Rice Krispies (by Kellogg’s): Rice, sugar, contains 2% or less of salt, malt flavor. Vitamins and Minerals: Iron (ferric phosphate), niacinamide, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), folic acid, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.
Brown Rice Crisps (365 by Whole Foods): Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice, Organic Cane Sugar, Sea Salt.
Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps (by One Degree Organics): Organic Brown Rice, Coconut Palm Sugar, Unrefined Salt, Tocopherols (vitamin E),
Instead of the original butter and marshmallow concoction, I use tahini to create a delicious sticky filling that keeps the cereal together in bar form. The tahini mixutre is sweetened with only maple syrup and finished with vanilla and a touch of salt that creates an almost caramely like taste and creaminess. To complement the tahini, I add 1/4 cup of sesame seeds to the rice cereal to add another dimension of texture. This is completely optional (but highly recommended). When selecting a tahini try to use one that is thin and not too paste-like. My favorite tahini for baking is the 365 brand by Whole Foods. If tahini isn’t your thing you can substitute with another thinner nut/seed butter you like, such as Sunbutter, almond butter, or even peanut butter. And feel free to use your favorite liquid sweetener instead of maple! Honey, agave, or coconut syrup are all good options.
And of course, the bars are finished off with a great layer of chocolate and sea salt. The chocolate layer is so simple to make, just melt your favorite chocolate chips, chunks, or bars, add some coconut oil and viola spreadable chocolate awaits! These bars are incredibly easy to make and whip up quick! If you are in a hurry to get these bars into hungry hands, just skip the chocolate layer and these can be done in under 15 minutes! And even though I believe adding chocolate is always a good idea, these rice crispy bars are equally as delicious even without the chocolate. And if that’s not a testament to how truly delicious these Tahini Rice Crispy Treats are, well I just don’t know what is.
naturally sweetened, vegan, oil free, nut free
If you make this recipe, please feel free to leave a review or rating down below. And I’d LOVE to see your creation! Please tag me on Instagram @freshlydafna and use #freshlydafna.
Tahini Rice Crispy Bars
Rice Crispy Treats with a major upgrade and a healthy twist! These are made with brown rice crispy cereal and bound together with a caramel-like tahini and maple syrup mixture. They are super easy to make and made with ingredients you can feel good about eating!
vegan, refined sugar free, oil free, nut free
- 4 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds optional
- 1 1/4 cup tahini, well stirred before measuring see notes for subs
- 1/2 cup maple syrup see notes for subs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- flakey sea salt
Prepare an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish by lining with parchment paper and leaving a short overhang over the edges.
Add the tahini and maple syrup to a small pot and heat over medium low heat. Stir often and cook until it starts to bubble slightly, about 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be smooth, slightly thick, and turn a slight golden brown. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and sea salt, set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the rice cereal and sesame seeds, if using. Carefully pour the tahini mixture over the rice cereal and, using a rubber stapula, stir gently to coat.
Once thoroughly mixed, pour the cereal mixture into the prepare dish and spread out into an even layer.
Press the mixture down firmly into the dish by either using the heel of your palm or by placing another piece of parchment paper over the top and pressing down firmly all over. The more packed down, the better.
If not adding the chocolate layer, set aside to harden for a few minutes. This can be eaten right away, but it will be easier to cut once it has time to set.
If adding the chocolate, melt the chocolate by heating in short 5 second bursts in the microwave or over a double boiler. Once chocolate has completely melted, stir in the coconut oil until chocolate is shiny and smooth.
Carefully pour the chocolate over the rice crispy mixture and spread into an even layer. Let set by keeping at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes or hasten this step by placing in the freezer for a few minutes.
Once chocolate is set, sprinkle with flakey sea salt, slice, and enjoy!
Tahini - Be sure to use a tahini that is thin and not too paste-like. Some alternatives to tahini are sunflower seed butter, almond butter, or peanut butter. Ideally use one with a thinner texture and only 1 ingredient.
Maple Syrup - Any liquid sweetener will do. Honey, agave, or coconut syrup are all good options.
These will keep at room temperature for about a day or so, store in an airtight container. Afterwards, they can be moved to the freezer for longer storage. Unfortunately, they will lose just a little bit of their crunch once frozen. Although they will still be very good.
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