Why This Recipe Works
- Toasting the cereal and browning the butter brings out the corn flakes’ naturally sweet, earthy flavor.
- Generously seasoning the bars with salt results in a balanced treat that’s just the right amount of salty and sweet.
Rice Krispies Treats get all the love, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: cornflake crispies are better. Corn’s* naturally sweet and earthy flavor profile lends itself well to desserts, making it a fun, versatile ingredient to use in puddings, ice cream, cookies, and more. I didn’t grow up eating cornflake crispies, nor do I remember the first time I had them, but somewhere along the way, I swapped in Corn Flakes for Rice Krispies and they just became my go-to.
* Yes, corn, because cornflakes are made from corn, something that is remarkably easy to never think about while sleepily munching through one's morning bowl of cold cereal.
This recipe is based on my method for Rice Krispies Treats, which relies on the Maillard reaction—a chemical reaction that occurs when heat transforms proteins and sugars to create complex aromas and flavors—to do the hard work for us. Toasting the cereal until golden brings out the corn’s buttery, honeyed notes, while browning the butter adds nuttiness and a deeply roasted flavor flavor. Generously seasoning the bars with salt prevents it from becoming cloying, and results in a satisfying bite that’s just sweet and salty enough.
Cornflake Marshmallow Treats
The naturally sweet and earthy flavor of Corn Flakes shines in this riff on classic Rice Krispies treats.
- 7 heaping cups (252g) corn flakes
- 4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
- One 12-ounce bag of marshmallows, any size
- Flaky salt, to garnish
Preheat oven to 325ºF (160ºC). Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment and divide cereal evenly between the two sheets. Using your hands, gently crumble the cornflakes to break them up into smaller pieces. (They should not be as small as breadcrumbs; aim for the size slightly larger than that of Rice Krispies.) Toast in the oven, using a spatula to stir the grains occasionally, until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. When cool, lift both sides of the parchment to form a “sleeve” and transfer corn flakes to a large bowl. Set aside.
While the corn flakes toast, line a 9- by 9-inch baking dish with parchment and coat evenly with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
In a large pot, melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat, stirring and swirling, until solids turn golden brown and the butter smells nutty, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add salt, followed by marshmallows. Using a rubber spatula, stir until the marshmallows have just melted, about 4 minutes. Stir in toasted corn flakes, folding well to incorporate.
Transfer to prepared baking dish, using a rubber spatula greased with nonstick baking spray to coax the mixture into the pan. Garnish with flaky salt. Allow bars to cool for 30 minutes before portioning.
To portion, remove bars from the baking dish and place on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut bars into squares, rectangles, or your desired shape.
2 rimmed baking sheets, parchment paper, 9- by 9-inch baking dish, nonstick baking spray
To make these treats vegetarian, substitute the regular marshmallows with a vegetarian-friendly alternative.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The bars can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 week, but are best enjoyed within 5 days. Store in an airtight container.