Hippie Crispy Bars

Hippe Crispy Bars | A Sweet Spoonful

It’s Friday morning and I’ve been up since 6 am. I may have had one of these rice krispy bars at that time and perhaps another on my way out the door three hours later. Basically I’ve successfully convinced myself that since they’re made with brown crisped rice cereal and are sweetened with unrefined sugars that we’re basically in breakfast territory here. But in reality, these are quite decadent: as if Rice Krispy treats weren’t delightful enough on their own, this recipe takes them up a notch in all the right ways, adding bittersweet chocolate, almonds, toasted coconut, and a little sea salt. They’re just the thing to close out this busy, whirlwind late spring week.

Hippie Crispy Bars | A Sweet Spoonful

I’ve been trying to get a new post up for the past week and a half, but we’ve been deep in the everyday upkeep that is life with a baby. My wonderful baker at Marge Granola is going on maternity leave and after an extensive search, I’ve hired someone we’re all excited about to temporarily replace her. The day to day operations of a small business are a delicate balance at best, and when everyone and everything is in place, things run smoothly and I hold my breath and look around, marveling that ingredients get ordered, shipments go out, and deliveries are made without me having to intervene too terribly much. And then when we’re faced with hiring or any internal changes, really, I hold my breath in a different way, realizing that the delicate balance is about to shift.

The day before I started interviewing for the baking position, I realized I was sorely underprepared. Oliver had started waking up twice in the middle of the night again (babies! You think you’ve got them figured out and then they change!) and I hadn’t even had a chance to look over resumes or prepare questions. The first woman showed up on time, I grabbed a clipboard to look official-ish and started asking her the questions I was always asked in interviews: what’s your greatest strength in the workplace? What’s your biggest weakness? I saw this intelligent, articulate woman pausing and stumbling and grasping for an answer and recalled being in the same position so many times before, thinking what a stupid trick question that is. Here: try to find a way, on the spot, to turn a supposed personal weakness into a strength so as to sell yourself to this person who doesn’t know you at all! I looked at her and apologized, telling her not to bother answering that question. That it was a dumb question. I asked her about what she does in her free time instead, and why she was excited about the job.

Hippie Crispy Bars | A Sweet Spoonful

After she left, I made another cup of coffee and texted my friend Brandon to ask him some advice on hiring questions. His text back was brief: ask them about their story. Because we were hiring for a temporary position, this seemed especially appropriate: these candidates all surely had other things going on — other lives outside of Marge Granola that would make them an interesting addition to the team. So I ditched the official-ish looking clipboard, turned on a little music and started asking the trickle of people that came in that afternoon about their bigger plan, about what they were excited about. And the typical stress of hiring and interviewing melted away as we had conversations about grilled cheese sandwiches, woodworking, handcrafting gardening benches and an RV trip along the Pacific coast. At first, you may wonder what any of this has to do with kitchen experience and ability to step smoothly into the position and I did a little, too. But really, I can train almost anyone to make granola. It’s a lot harder to train personality, readiness and enthusiasm to learn, or dynamics within a team. And the woman we ended up hiring is, frankly, someone with kitchen experience but someone we’re also excited to keep chatting with for the remainder of the summer. A new addition to our growing and evolving story.

Hippie Crispy Bars
These super deluxe rice crispy bars are like a grown-up version of the beloved classic: the marshmallows are traded in for almond butter and chocolate. I made some tweaks to the original recipe, using brown rice crispies, and adding in chopped almonds and toasted coconut to the cereal mixture. The Food 52 editors mention that if you love chocolate, you could even double the ganache to make them even more decadent. If you don’t love almonds, I think chopped pistachios would be really delicious in these, or salted peanuts could be nostalgic and delightful. Cacao nibs would feel fancy. The options to customize and adapt these feel endless. Take it away.

A quick note on toasting coconut and nuts: It’s really easy to burn coconut, so keep an eye on it in the oven. I generally toast the coconut flakes at 300 F for about 5 minutes or so, or until golden brown and fragrant. Sliced almonds take about the same amount of time and the whole almonds will take longer, closer to 8-10 minutes. I chop them after toasting them. For this recipe, I toasted the coconut and sliced almonds on the same tray first, and then toasted the whole almonds separately, second. 

Adapted from: Food 52 Baking

For the Bars:
1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup
1/2 cup (120 ml) brown rice syrup
1/2 cup (130g) almond butter
3 1/3 ounces (95g) bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups (110g) crisp brown rice cereal
1 1/2 cups (60g) unsweetened toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup (68g) whole toasted almonds, chopped

For the Topping:
3 1/3 ounces (95g) bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup (25g) toasted sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, to top

Line an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over the edges.

To make the bars, combine the maple syrup and rice syrups in a large pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the almond butter, chocolate, coconut oil, and salt and stir until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Fold in the cereal, coconut and chopped almonds.

Transfer the mixture to the lined pan and pack it firmly and evenly using a spatula or your fingers (you may want to damped your fingers to prevent sticking).

To make the topping: combine the chocolate and oil in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally, just until the chocolate has melted, then cool for 5 minutes.

To assemble the treats, pour the topping evenly over the rice mixture and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the sliced almonds and flaky salt on top. Let set at cool room temperature for about 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, until firm. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan and cut into 16 squares. These are best the day they’re made but they’ll keep at room temperature for several days (the cereal will just soften slightly).

 

Comments

  1. Sam Schick

    I can testify that these were absolutely irresistible, and just about as satisfying as a dessert could be that still leaves you needing many more. I just had another, in fact. I'm Sam, and I can swear by the truth of the above statement.

  2. Katrina

    Hippie sounds just the way I like it! I made some Krispie bars with date caramel recently and they were SO GOOD!! Definitely need to try these!

  3. Mary

    I look forward to every new post....I can't wait to make these.

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Mary. I hope you enjoy them! ~Megan

  4. Liesel

    Hi, Megan. I would really like to make these and have all of the ingredients on hand except for the brown rice syrup. What is a good substitute?

    1. megang

      Hi, Liesel- I'd use honey. I think that should work great - they may end up just a touch sweeter, but they'll be fantastic. Enjoy! ~Megan

  5. Gemma

    These sound so good, and I love where Brandon's advice took you for your interviews. How nice it must have been to be asked questions you could be excited about answering rather than those ones that we all have our stock responses to!

    1. megang

      Totally, Gemma! And to look forward to the conversation versus feeling stuck in this really rote routine. And yes, the bars are so, so good. They didn't last long in our house. Hope you and C are doing well! xox ~Megan

  6. Ashley

    I love that advice. I'm sure that relieved so much pressure on both sides of the interview. So glad you found someone! Balance restored.

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