Curried Coconut Cashew Rice Krispies Treats
As a kid, Rice Krispies Treats were indeed a treat, and a rare one at that. I marveled at how something so simple–just three ingredients–and something so easy–ready in ten minutes–could make me swoon. It was my first lesson in the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts though I doubt my ten-year-old self would have described it that way. Adding to the mystique of the treats was the fact that I didn’t care much for marshmallows unless they were blistered in a camp fire with gooey, molten centers guaranteed to burn the roof of my mouth. Now that is a marshmallow. The slippery amorphous goobers buried in my aunt’s unnaturally green pistachio fluff could easily trip my gag reflex. Ditto for the ambrosia salad that found its way onto every family buffet table (Marshmallows and sour cream? Really?). Even worse was the discovery of mini marshmallows suspended like flotsam in the one food I’ve loved to hate for four decades–Jello.
…I went to college. Fell in love. Lost my dad. Got a real job. Moved to Florida. Fell in love again. Went back to college. Had my heart broken into a million pieces. Got a big girl job. Moved to South Carolina. Got another boyfriend. Moved to Chicago. Got a new job and a new boyfriend….
My beloved Rice Krispies Treats fell between the cracks somewhere between Pittsburgh and Chicago. When I had the time, occasion, or adequate kitchen space to make something sweet I gravitated towards baked goods–cookies, cakes, and brownies, the kind of sweets that could fill my tiny living spaces with the scents of chocolate and vanilla and make a 450-square-foot apartment feel like a home. The simple pleasure of my favorite simple marshmallow treat was all but forgotten.
…I fell in love for what I thought would be the last time. Bought a house. Lost my mom. Got married. Got a better job. Went back to college for the third time. Damn near got divorced. Quit my fat job….
One night in 2008, one magical night at the Violet Hour, I was reunited with my first love–Rice Krispies Treats. My eyes told me they were the sweet transcendental treats I’d loved as a child, but my mouth filed a very different report. The squares were sweet, crunchy, and slightly chewy exactly as I had remembered them, but these treats were savory with a surprising bit of heat. I immediately reached for another and then another trying to crack the code of flavors that were exploding in my mouth. Curry!
I’ve made and tweaked my version of curried Krispies treats a dozen times since the night they first blew my mind, starting with the recipe that appeared in Food and Wine Magazine shortly after my Violet Hour visit.
I know, I know, marshmallows are made from lots of the ingredients that Michael Pollan (a man I have nothing but respect for, the same man who taught me that if I’m not hungry enough to eat an apple then I’m not really hungry) and others say we should avoid. I’ve tried with limited, unsatisfying success to make these treats without marshmallows. A mix of egg whites, sugar, and a bit of flour will do the job of holding the rice and nuts together, but the squares are brittle and crumble with the first bite. Yes, I’ve considered making my own marshmallows, but that wrecks the inherent simplicity of these no-bake sweets. For now, I’m sticking with the marshmallows. Besides they’re called “treats” for a reason.
Curried Coconut Cashew Rice Krispies Treats
For road trips I make these in a 9×9-inch pan and cut them into 3-inch square monster treats. For cocktail parties I use a 9×13-inch pan to create bite-sized squares that are perfect companions for a glass of bubbly. Want to glam them up a bit? Try drizzling the squares with melted white chocolate.
3 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan (You can substitute butter.)
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder (yellow curry)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted
1/2 cup cashews, toasted and coarsely chopped
5 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
- Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan with coconut oil.
- In a large saucepan melt 3 tablespoons of coconut oil over low heat. Add curry, salt, and marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat.
- Add vanilla, coconut, cashews, and rice cereal. Stir until well coated.
- Using lightly oiled hands or waxed paper evenly press the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool at room temperature.
- Cut into 1-inch squares and serve.
Makes 9-10 dozen.