Dear Misery Loves Cookery,
I’m looking for a good no-bake dessert to make for Christmas, something I can hand out that isn’t too messy.
Background: I don’t like baking, and really don’t need to for Christmas. Both of my sisters love to bake, and they make huge plates of Christmas cookies which they share with my family every year. I give them lots of compliments and everyone is happy.
I occasionally make a cheesecake for holidays, but I’d like have something to hand out as a Christmas treat that isn’t so messy. Maybe something I could add to these cookie trays?
Wow, what a great set-up you have, with plates of homemade cookies arriving at your home for the holidays. Good for you for keeping the compliments flowing—there is nothing a baker loves more than knowing people love what they’ve made.
It’s a wonderful idea to add a no-bake specialty to your repertoire. When those cookie plates arrive, a small box of your own homemade treat will surely be a thoughtful thank you. You are in luck: do I ever have the recipe for you!
Our family loves to bake—I come from a long line of baking ladies—but I think the dessert we made most throughout my childhood is a no-bake peanut butter rice-kripie treat coated in chocolate and butterscotch. I have no clue where this recipe originally was found by my mom. I’ve modified it slightly over the years, but I’ve seen versions of it all over the place. I don’t know what it was originally called, either—I’ve seen lots of versions of the name, too.
In our family, this dessert is called Granddad Surprise. The first time my mom made this dish—I was probably 5 or 6 at the time—my Grammy and Granddaddy were visiting from Denver. Even though Granddad was a big supporter of an “all things in moderation” diet, he had a sweet tooth, and was excited to try it.
He took a piece, ate it, complimented my mom, then went to our living room to relax. A few minutes later, he was back in the kitchen, cutting another piece, saying “Surprise!” This happened again, and again, and again, and “Granddad Surprise” became a cornerstone dessert in our family. Granddad had a great sense of humor and a wonderful smile, and I clearly can picture him coming to sneak piece after piece in my mind, which makes me chuckle.
Sometimes food isn’t just food, you know?
I’m not saying we had to make Granddad Surprise for every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, I’m just saying my cousins would imply that we really shouldn’t come to family dinner without it, no matter what else we were bringing. By the time I was a teenager, making the Granddad Surprise was usually my job for holidays, as it is so easy, and my parents could then focus on the other (more complicated) dishes.
And as you can see from this photo collage, Granddad Surprise is still living up to its name: after making some last night, we surprised our neighbors with a box of them, and they were very pleased.
(Side note, I can’t believe that little baby Granddady was holding is now big enough to make and deliver Granddad Surprise, herself. Gulp, time does fly.)
This recipe is pretty fool-proof, but here are a few tips to make it easier:
- Have the peanut butter right next to you at the stove, so when the sugar mixture is bubbling, you can add it right away.
- Do not press the Rice Krispie mixture too firmly into the pan, as it will make the candy too hard.
- You can use the same bowl to mix the cereal and sugar mixture and melt the chocolate and butterscotch, just be sure it is microwave-safe, and any remaining cereal is off the sides of the bowl—the sugar/peanut butter mixture is just fine to combine with the topping, though.
- Microwave in very small increments, stirring frequently. Chips can burn in their morsel-shape, and you won’t realize it until you taste the burnt flavor. Use the heat of the bowl to help you gently melt the chocolate and butterscotch. You may also use a double boiler for this step (I just like less mess.)
- Cut the treats immediately after pouring on the chocolate/butterscotch topping. Trust me on this. Cutting it while warm is easy. Cutting it once set is not.
- Serve them at room temperature—cold treats are hard on teeth, but room temperature treats are delightful.
I hope you enjoy this quick, delicious, easy recipe. Happy Holidays!
- 6 cups Rice Krispies
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1¾ cup peanut butter
- 1 11-oz. package semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (do not use milk chocolate)
- 1 11-oz. package butterscotch morsels
- In a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl, add six cups of Rice Krispie cereal.
- In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, heat sugar and corn syrup until sugar is totally dissolved and mixture is bubbling.
- Add peanut butter to the sugar mixture, and combine until lumps are gone.
- Working quickly (but safely—hot sugar burns are very dangerous), pour peanut butter sugar mixture over the Rice Krispies, and stir to thoroughly combine.
- Press lightly into a 13x9 inch pan. DO NOT press too hard.
- Remove any remaining Krispies from the sides of the mixing bowl, but don't worry about any additional peanut butter/sugar mixture.
- Pour chocolate chips and butterscotch bits into the mixing bowl.
- Microwave for 45 seconds-1 minute, then stir to combine.
- Microwave an additional 30 seconds, and stir again. Use the heat of the bowl to melt the chocolate and butterscotch.
- If any remaining bits are still unmelted, microwave on 15-20 second increments, stirring between each, to melt without burning.
- Pour melted mixture over the Rice Krispies, and cut immediately into small pieces.
- Allow chocolate and butterscotch to set, then serve at room temperature.