Some people can't open a bag of tortilla chips without eating the whole thing. Others go nuts for gummy candy, roasted nuts, or pretzels. The treat that gets me every time ("gets me" meaning I eat a whole batch and then regret it) are Rice Krispy treats (and really any cereal bar, especially when made with marshmallows). It's a weird obsession, I admit, but I think you'll overlook that when you realize it's what led me to these awesome cereal treats, specifically as a result of a hunt to find a healthier alternative.
The inspiration came from a recipe by Angela Liddon, whose vegan website is a great resource for accessible, visually appealing recipes. She used puffed rice cereal and almond butter to make gluten free, no-bake treats. I took the basic concept, changing the brown rice syrup for honey (which I think has more flavor, but if you're vegan, you can reverse substitute), whole grain cereal for puffed rice, smooth almond butter for chunky, and adding chopped dark chocolate, dried cranberries, and, most importantly, salt. You make the balls and stick them in the freezer, where they become pleasantly chewy, but never hard, even after a week.
In short, these addictively crispy, chewy balls are full of my favorite flavor combinations: dark chocolate-cranberry and honey-salt. Don't skip that last one—the salt really makes the flavor pop. These may be inspired by a vegan recipe and they may be healthier than cereal + marshmallows, but no one who's tried them would guess.
A final note: I used Kashi® 7 Whole Grain Puffs Cereal because I like the added nutty flavor and varied texture of the whole grains. To easily make these gluten-free, use gluten-free puffed rice cereal. To make these vegan, substitute brown rice syrup for the honey and source vegan chocolate.
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios