I could call these everything but the kitchen sink bars.
I had all kinds of little bits and pieces of candies, cereals, white and dark chocolate chips, marshmallows, caramel corn, you name it, I had somehow accumulated it in two weeks time in Aruba.
All the nearly empty bags and boxes were cluttering up my cupboards. Storage space is a foreign concept in this foreign land and I needed to clear the decks.
And clear out the cupboards. Declutter so I could make room for more was my theory.
Necessity is the mother of invention and I’m grateful for the ‘necessity’ when it comes in the form of one of these.
I am big on texture and these are crunchy and chewy.
And of course, sweet. Marshmallows, M & M’s candy, white and dark chocolate chips, a slab of peanut butter, a dollop of cookie butter, and some butter thrown in for good measure.
This is not a precise recipe. Simply melt marshmallows, or use ‘Fluff or marshmallow creme if you have that open, add a little butter and some nut butter if you want, too. Or don’t if you don’t. It’s a flexible and forgiving recipe; the way cooking should be in my book.
Add the dry ingredients you have on hand like chocolate chips (white, dark, butterscotch), random candy from M & M’s to a chopped up Butterfinger bar you chop up to a handful of raisins to a handful of Crunch ‘n Munch. Dice up Grandma Ethel’s aging sugar cookies that everyone is sick of but no one has the heart to toss. Toss them into these.
Or deconstruct that gingerbread house your kids made a few days and put it in these bars. Or just throw away old gingerbread houses but make sure your kids don’t see you; tears tend to ensue when they do.
Just throw it all into the melted marshmallow-butter-peanut butter gooey hot mess, stir, and in under a half hour these babies will be ready for consumption.
I told you necessity was a good thing.
Double Chocolate Caramel Corn & Cocoa Rice Krispies Candy Bars – with Dark & White Chocolate Chips, M & Ms and a Dark Chocolate Drizzle (recipe adapted from my own recipe, with gluten free and vegan options; )
3 c marshmallows (most of a 10.5-oz bag of marshmallows)
2 tbsp butter or margarine, softened to room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 to 6 c dry ingredients: For me this was 1 c caramel corn (Crunch ‘n Munch), 1. 5 c Crispix Cereal, and 3.5 c Cocoa Krispies Cereal (the exact quantity of dry ingredients will depend on the types used. You could use graham crackers, cereals of any kind, popcorn, diced up Christmas cookies, etc Note: you will likely not need less than 5 c of cereal but you could need more than 6 depending on what you choose; your batter should be sticky but not soaking wet; use common sense)
1/2 c chocolate chips (white or dark) for final drizzle over the top of the finished bars, optional
Optional Add Ins:
1/4 c + white chocolate chips
1/4 c + dark chocolate chips
1/2 c + M & M’s (or other candy, Reese’s Pieces, chopped up Butterfinger bars, Snickers, Milky Way bars, etc.)
1/2 c + marshmallows
1/4 c + peanuts, seeds, nuts, raisins, yogurt covered raisins, toffee bits, sprinkles, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, etc.
any odds and ends in your cupboard you have and want to use up (a handful of this or that, throw it in)
Line a 9 x 9 or similar sized pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat the marshmallows until the puff up considerably and are almost melted, which is probably about 60-75 seconds, but watch them. To the hot marshmallows add the softened butter and nut butter (if using) and stir. Then add the vanilla extract and stir.
Add in all dry ingredients and cereals, adding by a half cup at a time nearing the end. (If you like gooey-ier/chewier bars, use about 5 c of cereal and if you like drier/denser bars use more towards 6 c of cereal). Stir to combine.
Fold in the optional add-in ingredients, chips and candies, and press into the prepared pan. Press very firmly. Pack it down. It’s okay if the cereal “breaks”. Push it in and down, very well. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes and allow the bars to set up.
If desired, melt 1/2 c chocolate chips (white or dark) in the microwave for approximately 45 seconds or until melted and then drizzle chocolate over the top of the bars. Or make chocolate frosting. Or drizzle with Nutella, Speculoos, Biscoff Spread, peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, etc.
Store bars on countertop, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer and pull one or two squares out 15 minutes before you want to eat them. I freeze all my desserts and keep a stash on hand in my freezer.
For vegan option: use margarine or Earth Balance, use vegan marshmallows, use vegan white chocolate chips or another suitable chip, i.e. dark chocolate chips, peanut butter chips; use vegan cereal and take care that any optional candies that you add in are vegan. Read the labels for all products you incorporate based on your needs and preferences.
For gluten free option: Rice Krispies Gluten Free cereal are GF or use another suitable GF cereal; use popcorn popped at home not storebought; take care any add-in’s are gluten free and suitable for your needs such as the candies, chips, etc. Read the labels for all products you incorporate based on your needs and preferences.
And just like the Chocolate Saltine Toffee that I made here…
…the Cocoa Krispies Candy Bars were melting before my very eyes while I was trying to take pictures but I am getting faster and know what kind of meltfest I’m up against.
If after the holiday baking season, you don’t find yourself sweating to death but you do find your cupboards being taken oven by a plethora of nearly-empty bags of baking chips and sprinkles and things that you just can’t bear the thought of tossing, now you know what to do with them.
Marshmallows, butter, and nut butter are beautiful because they will soften anything and help make just about anything taste pretty darn amazing.
Add chocolate for good measure. Of course.
That puffy thing by the green M & M in the photo below is not a marshmallow. It’s a piece of Crunch ‘n Munch caramel corn that had gone sort of stale in the humidity here, which tends to happen about 4 seconds after you open a box or bag of anything. But it was sure tasty in the bars.
I would also recommend these bars post-Halloween candy season, post Valentine’s candy season, post Easter Bunny season.
Or any time you feel your kitchen, or life, has been taken over with bits and pieces of candy and various odds and ends.
If you’re like me, there’s never a shortage of one-third of a cup of something in a baggie because my grandmother taught me to never throw food away.
I think my Grandma would be proud of my re-purposing efforts.
Necessity is the mother of invention after all.
1. Do you have lots of baggies of odds and ends in your cupboards (especially during/after holiday baking season)?
I think anyone who’s a cook or a baker has more than her fair share of bits and pieces of ingredients laying around.
A quarter cup of Heath Bar bits, a half cup of marshmallows, a handful of chocolate chips at the bottom of a bag because some recipe you made called for an uneven amount rather than one full bag.
2. Do you throw food away? Or do you save it for a rainy day?
My cupboards are filled with Ziplock baggies full of nearly empty bags but I can’t bring myself to throw away perfectly good unused items. You never know when you may need that half cup of corn starch in the bottom of a bag that’s worth about 37 cents. God forbid I pitched it.
To say I am a saver for a rainy day is an understatement. An eighth of a cup of slivered almonds? Sure, save them. Never know when you may need them despite them taking up valuable space and going stale before I go to use them in the year 2017 and find they’re rancid anyway.
I grew up with a Grandmother who lived through the Depression and taught us never to throw away perfectly good baking supplies. Or any food for that matter!
Same with food and recipe flops. It may not make the blog, but if it has peanut butter, sugar, or chocolate in it, somehow some way, I usually find a way to save it. It may not be photo-worthy at that point but that’s usually the stuff tastes the best.
P.S. If you’re a Rice Krispies fan, check out Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough & Marshmallow Stuffed Rice Krispie Bars (No Bake)
Have a great week!