super quick sweet treats

Awhile back, I helped a friend out who was in need of some sweet treats for a picnic her son was going to. Pressed for time, she offered to pay me an outrageous sum of money to produce the goods so she wouldn't have to. Since I love baking I jumped at the chance. My general rule is never try out a new recipe if it is for a party or event. If it doesn't turn out you're kind of stuck running to the nearest grocery store to find some kind of substitute. Well, this time I took a risk and tried not one but two new recipes.

The first is the classic Rocky Road Crunch Bars. It's a mix of marshmallows, cookies and lots of chocolate.

The second is called Lunch Box Treats. It's a mix of malt, oats, rice and corn cereal, sesame seeds and a wee bit of chocolate (only two ounces). Both recipes I took from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express cookbook. (Have you noticed I love Nigella - especially for her desserts!)

The reason I chose both of these recipes is because they are super fast to make and perfect for events like picnics or school fairs or birthday parties. These are recipes you can whip up in about fifteen minutes or less on a school night or a Saturday morning. The general technique is exactly the same. Melt some chocolate, butter and sweetener in a saucepan and then fold in your dry ingredients like cereal or cookies. It honestly doesn't get easier than this.

The difference between the two recipes I tried is that the Lunch Box Treats is packed with a lot more nutritional goodness for your kids than the Rocky Road square. I used organic, gluten free corn flakes, organic brown rice cereal, rice malt syrup, sesame seeds and oats. You could really add anything you want to the recipe. I can imagine any variety of seeds from pumpkin to flax to sunflower being a welcome addition or even coconut and raisins. They were so good I am actually going to make them for Henry's coop daycare this week.

The Rocky Road squares on the other hand are a decadent treat that children love mainly because of the marshmallows and chocolate. While they don't offer much in the way of nutritional goodness at least you know that they are eating a homemade dessert of quality ingredients. Forced to choose, I would swing in the favor of the Lunch Box Treats. I love their crunchy, crackly texture and malty taste.

Do you have any easy to make dessert recipes you call upon again and again for these kind of events? Any tricks for sneaking in wholesome ingredients?

Oh and the outrageous sum of money - I happily declined it. Sometimes, it's just nice to to do something for someone else. Plus I hate taking money for something I truly enjoying doing. I'm sure the favor will come back to me sometime.

Lunch Box Treats

Adapted from Nigella Express - Good Food, Fast - Nigella Lawson

Makes 25 treats or 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup rice malt syrup

1/4 cup butter

2 oz milk chocolate

2 cups crispy rice cereal

1 cup cornflakes

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1.Melt the syrup, butter, and chocolate gently in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

2. Add all the other ingredients, turning to coat well.

3. Using your hands, shape the mixture into walnut sized balls. You should get about 25; you could also make this using a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners to get 12 cupcakes.

4.Let them sit in a fridge for an hour or so, and they will keep quite happily in there for a week of treats.

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

Adapted from Nigella Express - Good Food, Fast - Nigella Lawson

Makes 24

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp soft butter

10 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces

1/4 light corn syrup

8 oz plain hard and crunchy cookies like Social Tea's

2 cups mini marshmallows

1. Melt the butter, chocolate, and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Scoop out about half cup of this mixture and set aside.

2. Put the cookies into a freezer bag and then bash them with a rolling pin. You are looking for both crumbs and pieces of cookies.

3. Fold the cookie pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture, and then add the marshmallows.

4. Tip into a 9-inch square aluminum pan and flatten as best you can with a spatula. Pour over the reserved half cup of melted chocolate mixture and smooth the top.

5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

6. Cut into 24 fingers .