After a few months with limited sweets due to a stricter diet at home, I decided to try a couple of desserts from Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Families. My family needed a few healthy treats.
We tried her Fudgesicles, Chocolate Chia Pudding, and Oatmeal Banana Bites.
But the “Nicer” Krispie Squares, with modifications based on ingredients I had on hand, was the biggest hit with my son.
Note: I used sunflower seed butter instead of the macadamia nut butter for a nut-free version. I used maple syrup instead of brown rice syrup, which made the squares a little more brittle but still delicious. I did not use the spices she suggested and I used chocolate brown rice crisp cereal, instead of the plain.
Dreena’s “Nicer” Krispie Squares
Makes 16 squares
This recipe first appeared in my cookbook Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, and it is such a well-loved, kid-friendly recipe that I had to share a nut-free version here! These squares taste phenomenal, with the buttery richness of the macadamia nut butter and the sweetness of brown rice syrup. They aren’t sticky or gooey like traditional Rice Krispie squares, but the flavor is remarkably similar!
1/2 cup macadamia nut butter (see note for nut free options)
1–2 tablespoons coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar (see note)
1/4 teaspoon agar powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1–11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups natural brown rice crisp cereal (see note)
Line an 8″ × 8″ pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the macadamia nut butter, coconut sugar, agar powder, sea salt, brown rice syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir continually as the mixture heats, until the agar powder is fully dissolved (reduce heat if mixture starts bubbling).
Remove from the heat and stir in the cereal, making sure to fully incorporate with the nut butter mixture. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press in evenly (use a nonstick spatula or a piece of parchment to press the mixture without sticking). Refrigerate to cool completely, then cut into squares.
- With coconut butter: This is my suggested nut-free option; it may even rival the macadamia nut version, simply because it has a similar mellow flavor but holds together even better— and agar is not needed! Simply replace the macadamia nut butter with 1/3 packed cup coconut butter (not oil). Omit the agar. The remaining ingredients stay the same.
- With sunflower seed butter: Sunflower seed butter has a stronger nutty taste, almost peanut-y. With this substitution the squares taste different than a traditional Rice Krispie square, but it’s still a nice option. Use 1/2 cup of sunflower seed butter, 3–4 tablespoons of coconut sugar, and add 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom to balance the seed butter flavor. Use the full 11/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and retain the sea salt and agar. A sprinkle of mini chocolate chips just before transferring to the pan is also good!
Sugar Note: I don’t always add the coconut sugar to these squares. For me, the brown rice syrup adds sufficient sweetness. If you think you’d like them a little sweeter, use the added touch of sugar.
Brown Rice Crisp Cereal Note: These squares use the crisp rice cereal similar to Rice Krispies. There are a few organic and brown rice brands available; one of my favorites is by Erewhon.
Chocolate Version: To make a chocolaty version, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder while melting the ingredients. Whisk through to get out any small lumps. You may want the additional sweetener if using cocoa powder, since it will introduce some bitterness.
Dreena’s book is full of other healthy choices besides desserts: breakfast, lunch, salad, dinner recipes, as well as solutions for picky eaters, lunchbox options, and plant-powered family support. Interested in getting your own book? Let me know in the comments below WHY you would be interested in winning Dreena’s book and please LIKE my Facebook page. US/Canada residents get a physical copy, while International readers will get an e-book. The winner will be announced on the 30th of June 2015 at 9am EST.