Rice Krispies Treats are a forever favorite treat, particularly for those of us that remember making them for —and buying them from — elementary school bake sales. In short, the nostalgic factor is big when it comes to this easy kid-friendly recipe. However, as old-school comforting (and tasty) as they may be, sometimes they end up a little bit crispier, and less soft and chewy, than we want them to be. And that is where the magic that is sweetened condensed milk comes into play. Adding this slightly nutty, caramel-y and very creamy ingredient into the mix when making Rice Krispies Treats is an absolute game changer.
After the butter is melted, sweetened condensed milk is added (along with some vanilla and salt) and then the marshmallows (use minis if you know what is good for you — they melt faster and more consistently than their larger brethren). Cereal is then added and the whole shebang is lightly pressed into the prepared pan. Now this might sound just like the way you’ve always assembled your Rice Krispies Treats and you would not be wrong. But the simple act of adding the sweetened condensed milk really brings a chewiness and softness to the treats that cannot be beat. These treats firm up over a few days, like any treat worth its weight in marshmallows, but the chewiness remains intact. Moreover, the milky flavor that the SCM imparts is exactly what you didn’t know you needed in your Rice Krispies Treats — but you do. To zhush this old-fashioned treat up for the holidays, red and green nonpareils and some Christmas M&Ms are exactly what Santa ordered.
Technique Tip: Melt the butter and marshmallows slowly over low heat so as not to scorch the bottom of your pan and burn the marshmallows.
Gently press the rice cereal mixture into the prepared pan. If you compact them too much, they will lose their soft chewiness.
Swap Option: Consider substituting a different cereal for the Rice Krispies. Cocoa Pebbles are great for a chocolate treat and Fruity Pebbles make for the most colorful (and fruity!) of treats.
Grease an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray. Line with a long piece of parchment paper that extends up and over two opposite sides of the pan.2.
In a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt with a flexible spatula until combined. Add the marshmallows and stir until melted.
3. Off the heat, stir in the cereal, M&Ms and sprinkles until combined. Transfer to the prepared pan. Drape a sheet of plastic wrap over the treats and press lightly with your hands. Decoratively press additional M&Ms onto the top of the treats and sprinkle with additional nonpareils.
4. Let the treats set up on the counter for at least one hour. Using the parchment overhang, lift the bars out of the pan, slice and serve.