Caramel krispy treats (gluten-free, vegan, date-sweetened)
I am continually both marveling at and startled by how powerfully intertwined food, like music, can be. So many memories layered in so many meals, dishes, and bites-- whether tasted, encountered or merely observed. The way the scents of apples and pumpkin transport us back to long past autumns, every year. The punch of hot and sour soup, or a bountiful glory of assorted, intricately wrapped dim sum immediately fills my ears with echoes of cacophonous waterfalls of Cantonese I regretfully never learned. Or, sometimes the thought of one snug little siu mai dumpling will somehow feel like the coolness of a dampened, tenderly folded cloth held to my forehead by my mother late at night when, as a child, I suffered from frightening migraines. It's bemusing at times which foods find their way into our individual tapestries of recollection. It doesn't necessarily matter if we ever relished them in the first place. They can still bring us back the way a lilting melody or pounding bass can. My grandmother's daffodil cake, for instance, offered every Easter. I happened to like it a lot, but I've been told I'm in the minority. Yet I have no doubt that mere mention of daffodil cake enfolds all of us gathered cake-eaters of old with warm reminders of my grandmother. Her softness and unwavering loyalty; the unconditional way she loved her grandchildren, enough to hold our every little accomplishment in awe while also well aware of our flaws so as to better protect us.
And then there are those iconic treats and tastes that climb their way into representing a whole era without even needing to be eaten, let alone enjoyed. Take, for example, the rice krispy treat. Most people would agree the sticky, marshmallowy bake sale staples are delish. I never liked them all that much. Yet, can you get much better in the way of an edible symbol for childhood?
I'm not a rice krispy treat fan, but I do LOVE these. Naturally sweetened with a gloriously gooey date paste, gluten and dairy free, and what's more, requiring just 5 minutes and change prep. And, it can be done entirely in tandem with a toddler.
Little Monkey and I used One Degree Organics' Veganic Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps for these delectable no-bake morsels. I can't begin to do justice to how much I love and admire this company, whose tagline is, "every ingredient has a story". Not only is this family-run company personally committed to sourcing quality ingredients, they truly know who is behind each one. Moreover, you, the consumer are invited to share in the conversation, too, through bar codes on packages tracing the source of each ingredient. Products are certified organic, veganic (cultivated without animal-based fertilizers), non-GMO, and selected with everything sustainable and healthful in mind from bioavailability of nutrients to concern for the plight of bees.
To make these together, we measured and dumped into the food processor, blended, scraped and stirred. It took less than five minutes, not counting the finger and bowl licking accompanied by my little big boys lip-smacking approval. Pat down the square sheet of sweet crispness under a layer of parchment paper, pop into the freezer, and wait. That would be the hardest part, if it weren't good the "batter" tastes.
Without doubt, in years to come I'll only have to think "those caramel rice krispy treats" to be engulfed in Little Monkey beaming smiles, his independence and eagerness with measuring cups, spoons and spices, and especially the little hands wrapped around my neck with fierce hugs applauding our creations. I'll love them forever because of the way he loves them today.
No-bake caramel krispy treats Prep time: 7 minutes (plus 30 minutes in the freezer) Cook time: none Yield: 16 squares
- 1 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 10)
- ⅓ cup plus one tablespoon almond or coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup natural almond butter
- 3 cups gluten free crisp rice cereal (I used One Degree Organics Veganic Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps)
- Place dates, milk, vanilla, and almond butter in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in cereal.
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment and evenly spread the cereal mixture on top. Place an additional piece of parchment paper over the top of the cereal mix (to keep your hands from getting sticky) and press to pack the cereal tightly into a sheet.
- Place the bars into the freezer for 30 minutes or more. Remove the pan and bring the bars to room temperature to slice and serve.