chocolate_cherry_crispy_treats
Healthy Chocolate Cherry Almond Crispy Treats


Monica's favorite gear for
making Chocolate Cherry Treats
This has the taste and texture of Rice Krispies but is made with healthier brown rice. Click below for more brands I recommend.
Also available: Erewhon, Nature's Path
These high-quality dark chocolate chips taste smooth and rich and are gluten free.
These "super fruits" are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients.
A handy tool for scooping easy, uniform portions of these crispy treats. Also good for cookies, meatballs, and scooping tidy, uniform portions into muffin tins, ramekins, and more. (Click below for small scoop for making mini treats.)
Also available: small scoop
These economy priced mats are an Amazon best seller. They are a reusable substitute for parchment paper and fit perfectly inside my 13x18 baking sheets. These are like Silpat mats, but at a fraction of the cost.
This is my go-to mixing bowl. It's has a handle to hold onto as you stir, and a convenient lid for recipes that require some fridge time. (Click below for 2-cup version I use for melting the chocolate chips in this recipe.)
Also available: 2-cup
A few sprinkles of this gives these treats a yummy sweet/salty flavor combo.
Insert bite size treats in these liners for party platters.

Healthy Chocolate Cherry Almond Crispy Treats

High in antioxidants & nutrients, low in sugar & calories, gluten free, easy no-bake, 15-min prep.


Healthy Chocolate Cherry Almond Crispy Treats

By Monica              makes 30 treats
Healthy Chocolate Cherry Almond Crispy Treats. Move over Rice Krispie treats. These use brown crispy rice cereal; they taste amazing and are better for you. High in antioxidants, low in sugar, gluten free, easy no-bake, and 15-min prep.

Move over Rice Krispie treats. These use brown crispy rice cereal; they taste amazing and are better for you. High in antioxidants, low in sugar, gluten free, easy no-bake, and 15-min prep.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups crispy brown rice cereal (may substitute Rice Krispies)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds*, coarsely chopped
  • 10 oz bag (1 3/4 cups) bittersweet chocolate chips; or bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped
  • coarse sea salt (optional)

Directions
To large bowl, add rice cereal, cherries, and almonds. Toss to combine.

In microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate chips in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until just a few unmelted chips are left; stop cooking and stir until all chips melt in and chocolate is completely smooth. (It's important not to overcook the chocolate.)

Pour melted chips into cereal mixture. Stir until cereal mixture is completely coated. Drop 2 tablespoon mounds of mixture onto parchment paper or silicone mats. A medium cookie scoop makes it easy to portion evenly and neatly. (For mini bite-size treats measure in 1 tablespoon mounds using a small scoop.)

Optional: Before chocolate hardens, sprinkle each cluster with sea salt (if a sweet/salty flavor is desired).

Leave at room temperature until chocolate hardens completely (20-30 minutes). Store in airtight container at room temperature.

VARIATIONS. You can customize this recipe to suit your particular tastes.
--Substitute semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips if you don't like darker bittersweet chocolate. (NOTE: This may increase the sugar and calorie count and reduce the antioxidants in the recipe.)
--Omit the nuts or dried cherries. If you don't like either of these, you can leave them out. Increase the volume of the remaining ingredients to make up for the omission. For example, if you omit the dried cherries, increase the rice cereal or nuts by 1/2 cup. This will maintain the the correct ratio of melted chocolate to other ingredients.
--Substitute the almonds with other nuts. Try peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, or hazel nuts.
--Substitute the dried cherries with other dried fruit. Dried blueberries are another tasty choice that are high in antioxidants. Chopped dried apricots are also highly nutritious.
--Add a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseed for a nutrition boost.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for one cluster: 68 calories, 3.7g fat, 29mg sodium, 7.8g carbs, .7g fiber, 5.2g sugars, 1.2g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 2 (NOTE: for the mini bite-size treats, half all of these numbers.)

*If you buy almonds that aren't already toasted, it's fastest and easiest to toast them in the microwave.  Spread them out on a plate and zap them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes; stir after each minute. Times vary with different microwaves, so do a taste test after 2 minutes to see if they have a toasted flavor; if not, they need more time. (NOTE: Nuts toasted in the microwave don't brown as they would in an oven, but they do get the same toasted flavor. So, go by taste rather than color in testing them for doneness.)
If you prefer, you can toast the almonds in the oven. To preserve the almonds' healthy oils, don't use high oven heat. Instead, toast them at low heat at 170°F for 15-20 minutes until fragrant and lightly toasted.

  

These tasty treats have it all. Sweet, salty, crispy, crunchy, chocolaty, and chewy. Plus, they are low in calories and sugar, high in antioxidants, gluten free, and super fast and easy to make--no baking required. All of that in just 4 ingredients. What more can you ask in one recipe?

Healthier than your typical sweet treat. Compared to traditional Rice Krispie Treats, these have a similar airy texture but with nutritious ingredients and fewer calories and sugar. The melted sugary marshmallows that bind everything together in traditional Rice Krispie Treats are replaced with melted dark chocolate in this recipe. 4 simple ingredients create a delicious flavor and texture combination, but that's not all. Every ingredient is high in antioxidants and other nutrients. At only 68 calories each, these are a yummy indulgence for a healthy diet.

  • Brown rice crispy cereal tastes like Rice Krispies but is made with healthier brown rice. It has the same light, airy, crispy texture that adds lots of volume without many calories. So, these treats are big enough to psych you into feeling like you're eating a satisfying big portion, even though much of it is air. Brown rice is a healthier choice than the white rice that is used to make Rice Krispies. Brown rice is high in selenium, manganese, fiber, and antioxidants. (source)
  • Bittersweet chocolate is relatively low in sugar and calories yet rich in antioxidants. It's a great way to add a chocolate fix to this recipe along with health boosting benefits. (source)
  • Dried tart cherries have been called "the new super fruit" because they are significantly higher in antioxidants than other fruits as well as having other nutrients like beta-carotene, folic acid and fiber. (source)
  • Almonds are crazy good for you. In addition to being high in antioxidants, they have nutrients that may promote heart health and stabilize blood sugars. They are high in vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium. (source)

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for one crispy treat: 68 calories, 3.7g fat, 29mg sodium, 7.8g carbs, .7g fiber, 5.2g sugars, 1.2g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 2  (NOTE: for the mini size treats, half all of these numbers.)

 

Step-by-step photos for making
Chocolate Cherry Almond Crispy Treats 

Step 1. Assemble the ingredients

  • crispy brown rice cereal (you may substitute Rice Krispies, although the brown rice variety is recommended for better nutrition); find it in the healthy cereal aisle of grocery stores, at Whole Foods, and on Amazon.
  • dried tart cherries (I purchase these at Trader Joe's.)
  • toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • bittersweet chocolate chips; or bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped. (Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips are gluten free.)
  • coarse sea salt (optional); sprinkle the treats with this if you like a sweet/salty flavor combo

view on Amazon:  organic crispy brown rice cerealGhirardelli bittersweet chips, dried tart cherries, coarse sea salt (an Amazon best seller)

Chocolate_Cherry_Clusters_2.jpg

VARIATIONS. You can customize this recipe to suit you.

  • Substitute semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips if you don't like darker bittersweet chocolate. (NOTE: This may increase the sugar and calorie count and reduce the antioxidants in the recipe.) If you're willing to sacrifice the nutritional benefits of chocolate, you can also use other flavored baking chips like peanut butter, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.
  • Omit the nuts or dried cherries. If you don't like either of these, you can leave them out. Increase the volume of the remaining ingredients to make up for the omission. For example, if you omit the dried cherries, increase the rice cereal or nuts by 1/2 cup. This will maintain the correct ratio of melted chocolate to other ingredients.
  • Substitute the almonds with other nuts. Try peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, or hazel nuts. 
  • Substitute the dried cherries with other dried fruit. Dried blueberries are another tasty choice that are high in antioxidants. Chopped dried apricots are also highly nutritious.
  • Add a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseed for a nutrition boost.

Step 2. If you buy almonds that are already roasted, skip this step. If your almonds are raw, it's fastest and easiest to toast them in the microwave. Spread them out on a plate (I use a pie plate) and zap them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes; stir after each minute. Times vary with different microwaves, so do a taste test after 2 minutes to see if they have a toasted flavor; if not, they need more time. Mine take 2 minutes 30 seconds. Coarsely chop the toasted almonds (each almond in 2-3 pieces).

  • NOTE: Nuts toasted in the microwave don't brown as they would in an oven, but they do get the same toasted flavor. So, go by taste rather than color in testing them for doneness.

If you prefer, you can toast the almonds in the oven. To preserve the almonds' healthy oils, don't use high oven heat. Instead, toast them at low heat at 170°F for 15-20 minutes until fragrant and lightly toasted.

Chocolate_Cherry_Clusters7.jpg

Step 3. Add the brown rice cereal, dried cherries, and almonds to a medium size bowl (I use an 8 cup Pyrex); stir to combine.

  • view on Amazon:  8-cup measuring/mixing bowl (My go-to mixing bowl. I love having a handle to hold onto as I stir. It comes with a convenient lid for recipes that require some fridge time.)

Chocolate_Cherry_Clusters1.jpg

Step 4. Put the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup (I use a 2-cup Pyrex). Microwave in 30 second intervals, stopping and stirring each time, just until there are a few unmelted chunks left. Stop cooking and stir until all of the chunks melt in. It took 2 minutes total time in my microwave, but microwaves can vary. (It's important not to overcook the chocolate; this method of stirring in the last chunks works great.)

view on Amazon:  2-cup glass measuring cup (an Amazon best seller)

Chocolate_Cherry_Clusters2.jpg

Step 5. Add the melted chocolate to the rice/fruit/nut mixture. Stir until ingredients are evenly and completed coated with chocolate.

Chocolate_Cherry_Clusters3.jpg

Step 6. Drop 2 tablespoon mounds of the mixture onto parchment paper or a silicone mats. I use a medium scoop for easy, even portions.

Step 7. If a sweet/salty flavor combo is desired, sprinkle each mound with a few granules of coarse sea salt while the chocolate is still wet.

view on Amazon:  medium scoop,  silicone mat (economy priced and an Amazon best seller)

Chocolate_Cherry_Clusters4.jpg

Now wait a bit for the chocolate to harden. It will take approx 30 minutes, depending on the temperature of your room. One of the nice things about this recipe is that the chocolate doesn't harden so quickly that you have to rush to scoop it into portions. Yet, the chocolate hardens quickly enough that these are ready to eat/serve in well under an hour.

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Store these in an airtight container at room temperature. They'll be good for at least a week, although they don't last that long around here.

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Make them mini bite-size by simply measuring 1 tablespoon portions instead of 2 tablespoons. I use a small scoop for these little mini treats. They're better portion control--one of these mini bites is just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth at half the calories of the bigger versions. Put them in mini paper muffin liners, and they look pretty on a party platter. No one will guess that they are a no-guilt treat, because they taste so chocolaty and decadent.

view on Amazon:  small scoop, mini paper muffin liners

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Amazing taste and texture. They've got that sweet and salty thing going, plus crispiness from the rice cereal, crunch from the almonds, and chewiness from the cherries. And, chocolate. All that taste, and they're nutrient rich and low in sugar and calories. It's hard to find a better treat than that.

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Make it a Yummy day!

Monica

 

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Link directly to this recipe
Healthy Chocolate Cherry Almond Crispy Treats
By Monica              Servings: makes 30 treats
Ingredients
  • 2 cups crispy brown rice cereal (may substitute Rice Krispies)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds*, coarsely chopped
  • 10 oz bag (1 3/4 cups) bittersweet chocolate chips; or bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped
  • coarse sea salt (optional)
Directions
To large bowl, add rice cereal, cherries, and almonds. Toss to combine.

In microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate chips in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until just a few unmelted chips are left; stop cooking and stir until all chips melt in and chocolate is completely smooth. (It's important not to overcook the chocolate.)

Pour melted chips into cereal mixture. Stir until cereal mixture is completely coated. Drop 2 tablespoon mounds of mixture onto parchment paper or silicone mats. A medium cookie scoop makes it easy to portion evenly and neatly. (For mini bite-size treats measure in 1 tablespoon mounds using a small scoop.)

Optional: Before chocolate hardens, sprinkle each cluster with sea salt (if a sweet/salty flavor is desired).

Leave at room temperature until chocolate hardens completely (20-30 minutes). Store in airtight container at room temperature.

VARIATIONS. You can customize this recipe to suit your particular tastes.
--Substitute semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips if you don't like darker bittersweet chocolate. (NOTE: This may increase the sugar and calorie count and reduce the antioxidants in the recipe.)
--Omit the nuts or dried cherries. If you don't like either of these, you can leave them out. Increase the volume of the remaining ingredients to make up for the omission. For example, if you omit the dried cherries, increase the rice cereal or nuts by 1/2 cup. This will maintain the the correct ratio of melted chocolate to other ingredients.
--Substitute the almonds with other nuts. Try peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, or hazel nuts.
--Substitute the dried cherries with other dried fruit. Dried blueberries are another tasty choice that are high in antioxidants. Chopped dried apricots are also highly nutritious.
--Add a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseed for a nutrition boost.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for one cluster: 68 calories, 3.7g fat, 29mg sodium, 7.8g carbs, .7g fiber, 5.2g sugars, 1.2g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 2 (NOTE: for the mini bite-size treats, half all of these numbers.)

*If you buy almonds that aren't already toasted, it's fastest and easiest to toast them in the microwave.  Spread them out on a plate and zap them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes; stir after each minute. Times vary with different microwaves, so do a taste test after 2 minutes to see if they have a toasted flavor; if not, they need more time. (NOTE: Nuts toasted in the microwave don't brown as they would in an oven, but they do get the same toasted flavor. So, go by taste rather than color in testing them for doneness.)
If you prefer, you can toast the almonds in the oven. To preserve the almonds' healthy oils, don't use high oven heat. Instead, toast them at low heat at 170°F for 15-20 minutes until fragrant and lightly toasted.

Here's my recipe for traditional Rice Krispie Treats made healthier with brown rice cereal:

Crispy Brown Rice Treats
thumbIMG_2847_1.jpg
 



Posted on Saturday, January 17th, 2015
Tags: Desserts








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