PB&J Cereal Bars
PB&J Cereal Bars- Crispy cereal is coated in a peanut butter marshmallow mixture then finished with freeze dried strawberries.
March 21, 2023 by Nicole Collins
Today’s recipe has been on the roster for a HOT minute.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted and re-texted today’s recipe to myself so that I didn’t forget about it.
It’s been YEARS.
I haven’t skipped over it because I thought it would be a loser. I honestly just think I took it for granted.
I almost always have all the ingredients on hand to make these. I knew they wouldn’t be a big time commitment to make. I knew they’d be so easy, so I kept pushing them off for a day when I needed an easy recipe to fill out my testing schedule.
And then I’d push them out so much that I’d forget about them. And the cycle continued and continued.
Well today, we break that cycle!
Today, we’re making PB&J Cereal Bars!
These sweet treats are like the second cousin once removed from a classic rice Krispie treat. We’re using toasty O’s cereal, coating it in a marshmallowy mixture enhanced with peanut butter, then finishing them off with little bits of crushed freeze dried strawberries. Yes, they’re as delicious as they sound!
Let’s work backwards and talk about the “J” element of these PB&J bars. To add some fruity essence to these bars, we’re going to crush up some freeze dried strawberries. Now, it’s important to note that dried and freeze dried fruit are not the same. Freeze dried berries are essentially fresh fruit that have had the water content removed. They’re nice and crunchy and easy to crush up into small pieces. We don’t want to pulverize the berries to dust, but we don’t want huge chunks either. Just pop them in a baggie, give them a squeeze in your hands, and they’ll be just the texture we want for these bars.
For the cereal element of our bars, we’re breaking out the Cheerios. I love the extra crunch the O’s cereal adds to these bars, and they also make them just a little heartier. We’ll coat the cereal in a melty mix of butter, marshmallows, and peanut butter. And, the recipe is practically done!
Once the cereal is mixed with the marshmallows and peanut butter, we’re going to mix in some of our crushed strawberries. This will give us a little bit of berry essence all throughout the bars. Then we’ll press them into a pan, top them with the rest of our crushed berries, and let them rest for about an hour. That’s all there is to it!
I love that these bars hit all of the flavor notes. The marshmallows add all the sweetness to make these a dessert. The peanut adds the savory notes to balance out the sweet. Then, you get these little moments of subtle tartness from the scattered pieces of strawberry throughout the bars. And when you close your eyes, the peanut butter and jelly memories combined with the nostalgia of Cheerios cereal transports you to a place a pure bliss.
That’s some dessert bar to have that kind of power if you ask me!
You know, I’ve made more marshmallow cereal bars in the past year than I have in my whole life. And, I have no intentions of stopping anytime soon.
I hope you guys enjoy, and let’s eat!
PB&J Cereal Bars
Serves: 16 Print
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 bag (10 oz) marshmallows
½ cup peanut butter
5 cups Cheerios
½ cup freeze dried strawberries, crushed and divided
Line an 9x9 baking pan with aluminum foil. Lightly spray it with cooking spray. Set aside.
Melt butter and peanut butter in a dutch oven or large pot over medium low heat. Add marshmallows, and stir until the marshmallows are completely melted and incorporated with the butter mix. Remove from heat.
Stir the cereal and ¼ cup crushed berries into the marshmallow mix until completely coated. Spritz the back of your spatula with cooking spray, and gently press the cereal mix evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of the bars with remaining dried strawberries. Allow the cereal bars to sit for at least 1 hour to cool and set.
Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil out of the dish. Cut into 16 squares. Serve!
*Freeze dried strawberries are easy to crush. I like the put them in a plastic baggie and crumble between my fingers. We don’t want them ground into a powder, but we don’t want large chunks either.
*Mise en place, or gathering/prepping your ingredients, is important to the success of this recipe. These cereal bars treats move fast, so getting all of your ingredients measured and ready helps you act fast while assembling.
*You could use regular sized or mini marshmallows for this recipe.
*Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.