‘Tis the season for gatherings, food, and panic about what to bring to a holiday potluck. If any of you are scrambling to figure out what to bring to a party, look no further than these pumpkin spice rice krispies treats. They are easy to make and will be a crowd pleaser! I’ve packed a lot of spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves) in this recipe so that you can taste all those lovely warm flavors with every bite.
COOKING NOTES FOR PUMPKIN SPICE RICE KRISPIES TREATS
USING MORE CEREAL
This pumpkin spice rice krispies treats recipe is loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s salted brown butter crispy treats. I made a batch of them a while ago and accidentally doubled the amount of Rice Krispies (I used an entire 12-ounce box instead of 6 ounces). I was so worried that I would have to throw out the batch, but I quickly discovered that I actually preferred the treats with more cereal. As many of you know, I like desserts that are not too sweet. By using more cereal in the batch, the treats weren’t as coated in gooey melted marshmallows and had a nice light crunch. They reminded me a lot of the ginger cereal treats that Mama Lin used to make when I was younger.
PUMPKIN SPICE BLEND
The star of these rice krispies treats are the spices, so I like to use good spices when making these treats. Of course, use whatever spices you can access easily, but here are some of my favorite brands for each spice I used:
- Cinnamon & Ginger: My favorite ground cinnamon and ginger comes from a spice shop in Marysville, California called Local Spicery. Their baker’s blend cinnamon is sweet and very fragrant, while their ground ginger is bright and spicy.
- Nutmeg & Cardamom: I love using Diaspora Co.’s Anamalai nutmeg and Baraka cardamom. They sell their whole nutmeg with the outer pods still intact to keep the nutmeg fresh. When I’m ready to use it, I gently hit the pod with my kitchen mallet and it breaks very easily. Their incredibly popular Baraka cardamom is the most fragrant cardamom I have ever used!
- Cloves: For convenience, I generally use Morton & Bassett’s ground cloves, which you can find in many grocery stores. Diaspora Co. also sells lovely whole Kandyan cloves.
Substitution: If gathering up all these separate spices is too much hassle, feel free to substitute the spices with 2 1/2 tablespoons of your favorite pumpkin spice blend!
In Deb’s crispy treats recipe on Smitten Kitchen, she browns the butter first to add a layer of rich malty flavor to the treats. I loved her use of browned butter, so I’ve done the same in this recipe too.
To brown butter, melt a stick of butter in a pot. Once it has completely melted, keep heating the butter for a few more minutes, until the milk solids at the bottom and sides of the saucepan start turning golden. Reduce the heat slightly and continue stirring constantly to prevent the butter from burning. Once the milk solids start turning into the color of milk chocolate, turn off the heat.
Be very careful because the butter can go from brown to burnt very quickly. If you want to err on the side of caution, you can turn off the heat when a lot of the milk solids look golden. Leave the butter in the pot and let the residual heat brown the butter further, at a slower pace.
DO NOT ADD PUMPKIN PUREE
I suspected that adding pumpkin purée into the rice krispies treats wouldn’t work, but I had to try a batch to satisfy my curiosity. In one of my test batches, I added 1/4 cup of pumpkin purée. The purée added no noticeable flavor and caused the treats to turn soggy in an hour.
USING BLACK SESAME SEEDS
The black sesame seeds serve two functions: they add visual appeal and a nutty, slightly bitter flavor that balances nicely against the sweetness of the marshmallows. You can use white sesame seeds or leave out the black sesame seeds if you don’t have any on hand.
HOW TO STORE PUMPKIN SPICE RICE KRISPIES TREATS
The texture of the treats are the best the day they are made. If you are making them a day ahead for a party, transfer them to an airtight container. If you want to store the treats in the same pan that you used to shape them, wipe off the oil inside the pan before transferring the treats into them. Wrap the entire pan tightly (I use 2 layers of aluminum foil). The treats will keep for up to 3 days. By the third day, you can tell the cereal is about to go stale.
Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispies Treats
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground from about 7 cardamom pods
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons (30g) black sesame seeds, (see note 1)
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
- 10 ounces (283g) mini marshmallows, (see note 2)
- 12 ounces (340g) crispy rice cereal
- Grease a 9×13-inch pan lightly with oil. Line a piece of parchment paper along the long side of the pan. Set it aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and salt. Set it aside.
- Pour the sesame seeds into a skillet. Toast the sesame seeds over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. You should be able to smell the toasty aroma of the seeds towards the end of toasting. Turn off the heat. Use a spatula to carefully guide the toasted seeds to a bowl.
- In a large pot (I used a 7 1/4-quart Dutch Oven), melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter melts completely, reduce the heat slightly and continue heating the butter for about 2 to 3 more minutes. Once you start noticing tiny golden specks appear at the bottom of the pot, stir the butter with a silicone spatula frequently (see note 3). Keep your eye on the pot because the butter can burn easily at this stage. Continue heating the butter until more golden specks of milk solids form and then turn brown, like the color of milk chocolate. Turn off the heat. Leave the pot on the burner.
- Immediately pour the marshmallows into the pot and start stirring. Keep stirring until the marshmallows are completely melted. Add the dried spices and sesame seeds and stir to combine.
- Add the rice cereal into the pot at once. Use your silicone spatula to mix the cereal and marshmallow mixture together. It may seem like a daunting task at the beginning because there’s so much cereal. Be patient and continue folding the marshmallow mixture from the bottom of the pot over any dry cereal.
- Transfer the mixed cereal into the lined baking pan.
- Place a small sheet of parchment paper over the cereal mixture and press down to pack down the mixture. Try to make sure the cereal mixture is evenly spread throughout the pan.
- Let the rice krispies cool and set in the pan for 20 minutes. Cooling the treats will allow you to cut it into neater squares. Hold on to the parchment paper to remove the entire block of treats from the pan.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the treats into squares. I like to slice the block of rice krispies treats into 8 short strips (about 1 1/2 inches wide), along the length of the block. Then, I cut each strip into 5 smaller squares for a total of 40 treats. Feel free to cut the treats into smaller or bigger pieces.
- The texture of the treats are the best the day they are made. Store the treats in an airtight container. They will keep for up to 3 days.
- Using Black Sesame Seeds: If you want a light hint of black sesame flavor in the treats, use 3 tablespoons. If you want a little more bitter flavor, use 4 tablespoons of black sesame seeds. You can use white sesame seeds or leave out the black sesame seeds if you don’t have any on hand.
- Gelatin in Marshmallows: Most marshmallows that you see in grocery stores contain gelatin, which is derived from animals. If you are preparing this dish for vegetarians (who eat dairy), try to find vegan marshmallows. I have not tested this recipe with vegan marshmallows before, but they should be a decent substitute.
- Using a Silicone Spatula: If possible, use a silicone spatula to make the treats because the marshmallow mixture won’t get stuck to the spatula. It stuck to every other type of utensil I tried to use.
- Using Pumpkin Spice Blends: If gathering up all the individual spices is too much hassle, feel free to substitute the spices with 2 1/2 tablespoons of your favorite pumpkin spice blend!