I swear that I had no intention of being such a tease! A few weeks ago, I posted a photo up on Facebook of some bars that I had just made. They were adapted from my Easter crispy treat recipe, but I had no idea how popular they would be. Since I’ve been out of town quite a bit this month, it took me a little time to get the rice crispy bars recipe and photos up for you, but it’s finally here!
Admittedly, I may be stretching the healthy claim just a wee bit, but these crispy bars are made with natural sweetener, coconut (the latest superfood, right?), gluten-free brown rice crispies, and chocolate (well-established as a superfood – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!). Still dessert-like, but with wonderful whole food ingredients … dare I say this could be the perfect rice crispy bars recipe.
Also, most marshmallow-free crispy treats or bars are made with peanut butter or a similar nut butter. These are made purely with unsweetened shredded coconut and are a nutritious dessert or sweet snack! Here’s how the coconut works …
Coconut butter can be made in 60 seconds or less, just like nut butter, in a spice grinder or mini-food processor. For this rice crispy bars recipe, I place most of the shredded coconut (I use this brand) into my handy-dandy personal-sized blender ($20 on sale at JCP! Mine is Cooks brand, but it’s identical to this Bella Cucina personal blender sold elsewhere), slap on the grinder blade, and whiz away. It works like a dream. If you prefer, you can use store bought coconut butter for convenience. However, I would melt it a little before adding the other ingredients as it can solidify quite a bit if stored in cooler temperatures.
Important: Since this recipe makes a relatively small amount of coconut butter, I do not recommend using a large food processor! This is meant to be a simple recipe for everyone. The coconut needs to be completely ground so that you are left with a paste and oil. In a large food processor, it will likely spin into a ball and will not be processed enough. Stick with the little stuff!
If you aren’t a big coconut fan, but still want to give this rice crispy bars recipe a go, you can skip the additional 1/4 cup of shredded coconut and the extra coconut sprinkled on top. That way you still get the buttery goodness of the coconut, but without the coconut-texture.
Either way, I highly recommend this gluten-free and dairy-free rice crispy bars recipe. The coconut is still rich, but has a lighter flavor than nut or seed butters, giving ordinary crispy treats a fresh spring-like vibe.
- Lightly grease an 8 x 8 baking pan (I use glass)
- Place the 1-1/2 cups of coconut in a small food processor or spice grinder (see my notes above), and whiz until it clumps and turns into a paste with a fair bit of residual oil (about 1 to 3 minutes). DO NOT stop short. This must be butter and oil!
- Place the coconut paste/oil in a small saucepan, add the honey and vanilla, whisking over medium-low heat (do not be tempted to turn the heat up!) until it is smooth, and all of the residual oil is incorporated (about 3 to 5 minutes). The mixture will be thick and sticky (kind of like melted marshmallows), but smooth and spreadable.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the crispy rice cereal and the remaining ¼ cup of shredded coconut. It will be thick, like rice crispy treats, but should combine with gentle stirring.
- Press the crispy mix evenly into the baking pan. If needed, you can use plastic wrap or parchment paper between your hands and the mix as you press it in to avoid sticking.
- Chill the treats in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes (no longer).
- While those are chilling, melt ½ cup of the chocolate chips in a bowl (I microwave them on high for 1 minute, and then stir vigorously until smooth). You might need more depending on how zealous you get with the dipping.
- Cut the crispies into squares or bars, big or small. Whatever shape you desire! I usually do 8 longer bars, or 12 smaller treats.
- Dip the bars/treats in the chocolate, then turn them chocolate side up and place them on a plate while the chocolate dries.
- If desired, sprinkle the treats with coconut while the chocolate is still wet.
- I like to store these in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them crisp, but they will keep at room temperature, too. Just don’t expect them to last too long … these get eaten quickly in my house!