Every spring from when I was 5 to 14, Mom signed me up for our city’s recreational soccer league. Practices started towards the end of summer, so for the first few weeks of August, my teammates and I tried to ignore the sun still beating down on our backs during our early evening practices as we dribbled balls between cones, practiced pull-backs and other fake-out moves, and sprinted the length of the field for scrimmages.
The real games began in late September. Although always on a Saturday, their start times varied. One week, I’d bound out of bed at 6 am to eat, dress, and show up on the field by 7:30, but the following week, I’d watch TV and color for most of the day until we drove to the sports park across town at 5:30 pm.
Just like the start times, the parents assigned to snack duty changed each week too. Coaches requested that they bring fresh fruit for halftime—usually orange slices but occasionally my favorite, green grapes—yet they could hand out whatever sweet treat they preferred after the final whistle blew.
Once or twice a season, a baking-obsessed mom would send us off with homemade warm chocolate chip cookies, but almost all of the other parents gave us store-bought rice krispie treats instead. One time, a girl’s parents handed out special rice krispie treats, ones topped with a chocolate drizzle, and our entire team practically danced off the field. Even then, I was a huge sucker for chocolate!
But it wasn’t until high school that I thought to add chocolate directly inside the rice krispie treats to create a purely chocolate marshmallow cereal square. That was a chocoholic’s heaven in a little sweet treat! And then last weekend, I thought of something that would make them even better…
I hide caramel inside!
That’s right, these Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Cereal Treats are sweet, gooey, and an a-million-times-better version of the originals. With their light cocoa taste and buttery golden centers, these no-bake squares will disappear from your kitchen counter in the blink of an eye. But with only 4 ingredients, it’s incredibly easy to make more!
To start, I switched out the cereal and used Post Cocoa Pebbles instead. Although cocoa-flavored crisp rice cereal is another option, those aren’t actually gluten-free like Cocoa Pebbles, and because I grew up slurping up bowls of Fruity Pebbles for breakfast, any sort of Flinstones Pebbles cereal holds a soft spot in my heart.
My marshmallow treats differ from the recipe on the sides of cereal boxes in one main way… I always add extra marshmallows! My guy actually figured out that if I dumped in an additional handful or two, it made the cereal treats much gooier—just the way he likes them. (And if you’ve been around for a while, you know my guy hates almost all desserts, so it’s truly a miracle that he loves these!) The extra marshmallows also help the cereal treats stay softer for longer too, so they don’t stale in 24 hours like the regular recipes!
To stuff the centers, we’ll use caramel squares (like Kraft) that we slice in half. The caramels won’t actually be perfect squares—usually slightly lopsided with one slightly shorter edge—so cut through that squatter side, if you can. (This makes the caramel pieces as long and wide as possible!)
Then we’ll arrange them in horizontal lines in the pan where the center of each row of cereal treats would be. Start about ½” below the top edge, then add the second row about 1” below that, the third row another 1” below, and the final fourth row about ½” above the bottom edge.
Sweet and satisfying, these Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Cereal Treats are almost too easy to make… I was sorely tempted to mix up multiple batches in the same day when I went through the first pan much too quickly! They’re the perfect quick-and-easy no-bake treat for when the summer winds down and the back-to-school craziness begins too…
Which always happens much too soon, if you ask me!
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