One of the perks of my line of work is access to all kinds of new, weird, cool ingredients from suppliers all around the world. As a development chef, I’m always on the lookout for the “next big thing”, whether it’s moringa powder, algae protein or recently, cricket flour. While this recipe doesn’t have any crickets in it (but let me know if that’s of interest to you!), it does have puffed wild rice, similar to the beloved crackling cereal but so much better.
Wild rice isn’t actually related to what we call rice, Oryza sativa. It does grow in the wilderness of lakes and streams in North America. The good news is that unlike white or brown rice, wild rice is actually a good source of protein, with 15g per 100g, compared with rice’s piddly 8g. It even beats the golden child of pseudo-grains in protein content, quinoa, which only has 14g protein. Wild rice is an excellent source of fiber, with double that of brown rice.
Before I put you to sleep with all of this nutritional jibber jabber, what I’m building up to here is that I made rice crispies. With wild rice. And butter and marshmallows. And chocolate. Now that you’re awake again, might I interest you in a chocolate-covered, gooey, vanilla-scented, nutty wild rice crispy treat? So much protein. So much fiber. So much deliciousness.
I got this puffed wild rice from my friends at Goose Valley, who grow organic wild rice in northern California. After the rice is harvested, it’s dried and then heated under steam pressure, which expands inside each little kernel and causes it to explode and the starchy insides to puff into a crisp, airy foam and the outside to toast. The process is similar to popcorn, and results in nutty, almost winey, crunchy little puffed grains that couldn’t be further from the little white breakfast cereal crispies from yesteryears.
Besides the highly nutritious and complexly flavored puffed wild rice, this recipe goes exactly like you remember it. Butter and marshmallows are melted into a gooey, molten sauce that when mixed into the rice forms a lightly sweetened coating that holds everything together. Once cooled, the mass is cut into little (or large, it’s your call) squares before being dipped into warm milk chocolate.
Wait, your mom missed that step? Its ok, these aren’t the saccharin sweet bars of bake sales past; these are the grown-up, slightly less sweet version of your childhood favorite. And now that you are indeed a grown up, you can dip whatever you damn well please into melted chocolate. Another welcome pairing is a glass of Pinot Noir, which complements the earthy rice quite nicely. Your mom might have figured that one out.
Wild Rice Crispy Treats
If you can’t get your hands on puffed wild rice, you could look in the cereal section at your local natural foods co-op or Whole Foods for puffed grains, such as kamut, millet, barley or even brown rice.
Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and pour the puffed rice into a large bowl; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and marshmallows over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the marshmallows are completely melted. Pour the hot melted marshmallows over the rice and mix with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined.
Dump the rice mixture into the prepared pan and allow to cool, about 1 hour. Cut into squares whatever size you like.
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips stirring every 30 seconds until melted; be careful not to scorch. With an offset spatula, spread the top of each rice square with a generous layer of chocolate. Allow to cool completely, about 2 hours.
These are best eaten the same day, but I assure you that won’t be a problem.