A classic childhood indulgence all grown up!
What do you think of when I say bourbon-pecan?
Chances are, you think of the classic bourbon-pecan pie that graces many a holiday table. Maybe a few of you even think of variations on the classic, in the form of tarts or bars.
What do you think of when I say rice crispy treats?
Maybe cartoon elves on a blue cereal box? Maybe pucker sweet blocks of crunchy goodness tucked into your lunch box as a child?
These classic american treats are delicious but they do have their drawbacks. Bourbon-Pecan pie is often dense and cloying while rice crispy treats are stigmatized as a childhood treat. Both are often overly sweet. However, when you combine these two classics together, the result is a harmony of textures and flavors.
Gone is the stodgy, heaviness of crust and custard. Gone is the childhood dessert Americana. Enter whimsical, confectionary deliciousness!
Booze and nuts are a great combination. The booze adds complexity and helps refine the sweetness of the bars, while the nuts add heft and an earthy, savory quality. It’s worth noting the nuts add a bit of fiber and nutrient content but by no means am I trying to imply there is a healthful aspect to this recipe. These bourbon-pecan rice crispy treats are decidedly caloric and indulgent. These are the treats “cheat day” dreams are made of, so please enjoy but consume responsibly.
If you’re still reading this post, you’ve probably decided to make a batch of these rice crispy treats which is great but there’s an issue I should address.
We’ve stripped these two desserts of their usual place in the order of things. Bourbon-pecan pie from the holiday table and rice crispy treats from the handheld goody of yesteryear. What might be the proper occasion to enjoy a batch of these tasty bars?
There are so many places in life where bourbon-pecan rice crispy treats would be perfect. They make the most convenient, handheld desserts whilst enjoying a picnic or a bougie “glamping” trip. They’re a pleasant surprise on a cookie plate for the holidays or at a summer barbeque. It’s also totally relevant to enjoy them as a “just because” treat.
Another great thing about this recipe is it’s easily adaptable. Try swapping the bourbon for cognac and the pecans for American black walnut. So good!
Take things in an Italian direction and swap out the bourbon for Frangelico (Italian hazelnut liquor) and the pecans for hazelnuts. Whichever combination you try, be sure to toast the nuts before adding them to the mix, this really develops their flavor.
Make a vegan version by swapping out the butter for a vegan option such as Earth Balance and swapping regular marshmallows for vegan marshmallows such as Dandies. You can easily find either of these vegan ingredients online, at your local natural food store or Wholefoods.
You can make a less or non-alcoholic version by swapping out the bourbon and using a bourbon extract. Bourbon extract can be found online. The majority of the alcohol is removed during the cooking process but for those of you who have an alcohol intolerance, the safest bet is to use an extract instead of the real thing.
Another side note worth mentioning, is this recipe is extremely easy to make and comes together quickly. The bars have to set for a few hours but the effort or active time that it takes to make them is minimal.
Without further adieu, lets get cooking.
- 10 cups (one 12 oz box) rice crispy cereal
- 3 (10 oz) bags of mini marshmallows, divided
- 12 oz pecans roughly chopped and lightly toasted
- 1/4 cup of bourbon (for non-alcoholic version replace with 2-3 tablespoons of bourbon extract)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- cooking spray
- Liberally spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a small pan, over medium heat, toast the chopped pecans just until they become fragrant. This takes about two to three minutes. Set aside
- In a large pot (big enough to hold all ingredients) set over medium high heat, melt the butter. Be sure to stir constantly. Cook until the butter begins to brown and becomes fragrant. DO NOT walk away during this process. There is a thin line between browned (yum delicious) and burnt (travesty).
- When the butter is perfectly browned, remove the pot from the heat source, add the bourbon, return to the heat. Do not skip this step or you run the chance of igniting the alcohol.
- Continue to cook until the liquid has reduced by a third, approximately 2-3 minutes. Omit this part if you are not using the bourbon.
- Once the bourbon has reduced add two bags of the marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows have melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.
- Turn off the heat and add the last bag of marshmallows, vanilla extract (additional extracts if replacing the bourbon) and the sea salt. Stir until just melted.
- Working very quickly, add the rice cereal and the toasted pecans. Stir to coat in the marshmallow.
- Spray a spatula with cooking spray and use it to transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan. Using the greased spatula or clean, greased hands, gently press the mixture into an even layer.
- Let set and cool completely, approximately two hours.
- When cooled completely, spray a sharp knife with cooking spray and cut into squares and store in an airtight container.
* The bars keep in an airtight container, away from moisture, for up to five days.
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