Peanut Butter Cereal Bars


Ever since I was a kid, I've loved the ooey gooey texture of rice krispie treats. Since marshmallows aren't typically vegan, I haven't had one of these sticky squares in a while. I had puffed rice cereal leftover from when I made curry trail mix that I wanted to use up, and thinking back to my lust for rice krispie treats, these peanut butter squares were just the trick!


Plain puffed rice cereal isn't as sweet as rice krispies or as crunchy, so these treats are airier and lighter than the original. But, the melted peanut butter + maple syrup that replaces the marshmallow makes this dessert delightfully rich and sweet. Plus, a bit of semi-sweet chocolate on top adds the perfect bitter compliment to it all!


The main difference between these peanut butter squares and rice krispies is the saltiness of the peanut butter. I love a sweet & salty dessert, like pretzels in ice cream or chocolate covered almonds, so this change was my favorite part!



Ingredients
2 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp non-dairy semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional
1 Tbsp chopped salted peanuts, optional

Instructions
In a medium saucepan over low heat, stir peanut butter, maple syrup, and coconut oil until melted. Remove from heat as soon as it's melted and smooth because it can easily burn. Stir in puffed rice and mix until evenly coated with the peanut butter mixture. With the back of a wooden spoon, firmly press rice into an 8x8" pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped peanuts if desired, and press down to adhere into the bars. Return to the fridge and refrigerate for at least another hour. Cut into squares and serve cold. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 9 bars.

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