These dessert bars take rice crispy treats to a whole new level. They are coated with a luscious caramel sauce and topped with chocolate. These chocolate-caramel rice crispy bars are absolutely delicious. They are rich, so keep this in mind when you bite into one. Smaller sizes are recommended, but boy is it worth the caloric splurge. These bars are perfect for most occasions, including BBQs, potlucks, kid’s parties, girl’s nights, birthday parties, game nights, and tailgating events.
What you’ll need:
Crisped rice cereal, mini marshmallows, butter, chocolate chips, condensed milk, and caramel candies.
Chocolate: This is an individual choice for most people. I recommend either using milk chocolate or semi-sweet; however, you can use dark chocolate as well. Feel free to add flavor components to suit your tastes. Raspberry extract works perfectly with semi-sweet and dark chocolate.
Caramel: Growing up, we used Brach’s caramels for recipes like these chocolate-caramel rice crispy bars. Find something similar; individually wrapped squares, soft and easy to melt, but sets up nicely once it cools. You can also flavor the caramel with a touch of bourbon (for adult gatherings, of course).
Nuts: This recipe calls for chopped pecans, but please feel free to substitute with almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio, or omit the nuts entirely. You can use dried fruit, seeds, or chopped bacon as well.
Condensed Milk: Keep in mind that condensed milk is a thick, very sweet type of canned milk. Think of it as the halfway point to a caramel sauce. Condensed milk is not to be confused with evaporated milk, which is thinner and not sweet.
Dietary: For a vegan option, I recommend using coconut condensed milk, along with coconut-based caramels for this recipe. Use vegan-approved dark chocolate chips and crispy rice cereal. For gluten free diets, look for a gluten free rice cereal. Luckily, it is easier to find chocolate products, caramels, and condensed milk that are gluten free.
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Chocolate-Caramel Rice Crispy Bars
- for bar layer:
- 7-8 cups crisped rice cereal
- 1 1/4 bags mini marshmallows
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- for caramel layer:
- 45 soft caramel candies, unwrapped
- 1 14 - ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- for chocolate layer:
- 2 cups chocolate chips (use either milk or semi-sweet)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds)
- For bars: Melt unsalted butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add mini marshmallows and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir until they have melted through. Watch for burning and turn to low if needed. Remove pan from heat and add cereal. Gently fold to combine.
- Apply cooking spray to a parchment lined glass dish (13X9X2). Make sure the parchment is large enough to cover the sides. You might need two overlapping pieces to achieve this. Scoop bar mixture into the pan and using hands or spatula, press into a even rectangular shape. Set aside.
- For caramel: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add condensed milk and caramels. Stir often and keep an eye out for scalding. Reduce heat to low if this happens. Remove pan from heat, add salt and pour mixture over crisped bar layer. Even out with a spatula. Place into refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- For chocolate layer: Add chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Add a butter and microwave for 15 seconds, stir and repeat process 4-5 more times until chocolate has melted through. Don't go beyond this point as the chocolate will become too stiff to work with. Pour chocolate layer over caramel and spread out evenly with a clean spatula. Do this in sections to make it easier.
- 5. Preheat oven for 350 degrees F. Place nuts of choice on a lightly greased pan. Toast for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Chop nuts into desired size. Sprinkle on top of chocolate layer.
- 6. Place pan back into refrigerator for 1-2 hours. To cut, work excess parchment away from the pan. If everything goes well, it should lift right out. If not, work a spatula around the sides and cut the pieces inside the pan. Remove one by one and place into a large air tight container. Serve immediately. If going to an outdoor event, keep the bars cool as they are prone to melting in the sun.