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These crispy-topped brown sugar bars are at once familiar and surprising.
The ingredient list is short and grocery store and pantry-friendly.
The combination of Rice Krispies (or whatever puffed rice cereal you choose) and chocolate is reminiscent of a Nestle Crunch bar.
But this particular arrangement—a layer of crisp and buttery brown sugar cookie covered with a thin layer a semisweet or bittersweet chocolate topped with a layer caramel coated Rice Krispies—feels novel.
(Even if it reminds me, ever so slightly, in its layering approach of these almond shortbread brownies.)
They’re adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi. And in her description she recounts a friend telling her “This is what Rice Krispies Treats would have been had they been born in France.”
And that sounds about right to me. (Despite having only visited France and not splitting my time between Paris and the States like Dorie does.)
There are no marshmallows to be found here.
The rice cereal instead gets tossed in a simple stove-top caramel coating and spread on a baking sheet to cool while the cookie base gets made.
(And the caramelized crispy bits are tempting to eat on their own.)
The cookie base is a simple one that leans heavily on brown sugar for toasty flavor.
Butter gets creamed with light brown sugar and a bit of plain old granulated sugar and then gets hit with a splash of vanilla and salt to amp up the flavor.
Then the flour gets mixed in until it just disappears into a thick sticky dough.
Then the dough gets turned out into a parchment lined pan and patted into an even layer.
It’s a dense dough that takes a bit of work to squish across the bottom of a pan your fingers, but it’s the sort of work that takes about two minutes to get right.
And you don’t have to worry about leaving fingerprints in the dough (you washed your hands first, right?). They disappear in the baking process.
While the cookie base is in the oven is a good time to chop your chocolate into small pieces.
You can use either semisweet or bittersweet here. I prefer something on the bittersweet side here because I like the way the bitterness balances the sweetness of the brown sugar, but anything on the darker side of the chocolate spectrum will work.
The dough puffs and turns a deep golden brown in the oven.
Then immediately you sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the hot cookie base fresh from the oven.
Then you pop the whole thing back into your oven (that’s just been turned off) for a minute or two until the chocolate gets melty enough to spread.
Then you pull it out of the oven and spread it so that it covers all of that lovely cookie base with a layer of melty chocolate.
While the chocolate is warm, you sprinkle the caramelized Rice Krispies over the top (stealing a few bites, probably, as you go) until the whole thing is covered.
And you press those cereal bits gently into the chocolate.
And then you stick the pan of crispy-topped brown sugar bars in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill the chocolate and anchor the crispy bits.
When the bars are chilled you can hoist the whole thing out of the pan by holding onto the parchment paper.
From there you place them on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut them into individual bars.
I like to cut them smallish, about 1 1/2″ square, which feels bite sized and shareable, but still big enough to enjoy.
Some bits of the crispy topping will inevitably fall off in the process of cutting the bars, don’t worry. You can snack on that later. Or, like, right now.
For the Caramelized Rice Krispies
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup (25 grams) Rice Krispies (or similar puffed rice cereal)
- a pinch of flaky sea salt (optional)
For the brown sugar cookie base
- 1/2 cup (113 grams, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour
For the chocolate layer
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- Make the caramelized Rice Krispies. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and keep in nearby. Add the sugar and water to a wide skillet and heat over medium high heat.
- Bring the sugar to a boil and swirl the pan gently to distribute melted sugar. When the sugar turns light amber, add the Rice Krispies and remove from the heat. Toss with a spatula to coat the cereal until no syrup remain. Transfer to the parchment lined baking sheet and spread in an even layer to cool. There will be some clumping, don't worry. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if using.
- Make the brown sugar cookie base. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on two sides to lift out the cookies.
- Add the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the salt and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the flour and mix on low speed until the flour disappears and forms a thick, sticky dough, about 1 minute.
- Transfer the dough to the parchment lined pan and press into an even layer. Bake until puffed and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a cooling rack or heat safe surface and turn off the oven. Immediately sprinkle with chopped chocolate to cover the surface. Return the pan to the (turned off) oven to melt the chocolate, about 1-2 minutes.
- Spread the melted chocolate with a spatula or the back of a spoon so that it covers the cookie base in an even layer.
- Sprinkle the caramelized Rice Krispies over the chocolate layer. Gently press the cereal into the chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the bars from the pan with the parchment paper, transfer to a cutting board, and slice with a sharp knife into 1 1/2-inch squares, making about 20 bars.
These keep, refrigerated, for about 5 days.
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Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, 8.5 ounce Box
Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, 4 ounce
L'Etoile du Nord 64% Cacao 16 oz by Guittard
Baking Parchment Paper - Set of 100 Half-Sheets
USA Pan Bakeware Square Cake Pan, 8 inch, Nonstick & Quick Release Coating, Made in the USA from Aluminized Steel
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 52Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 63mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g