Gluten-Free Cookies & Cream Rice Crispy Squares
Buttercream:
1 1/4 cups Granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup Water
5 Large egg whites, at room temperature
2 1/2 sticks Unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Crispy Rice Treats:
6 tablespoons Unsalted butter
12 ounce Gluten-free marshmallows, large bag, plus 1 cup halved marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
5 cups Crisped rice cereal, gluten-free
1 cup Chocolate cream cookies, chopped, gluten-free, plus more for garnish

Buttercream

Place a candy thermometer on the edge of a small pan and add 1 cup of sugar. Pour the water on top to moisten. Do not stir.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and start cooking – but don’t stir! While the sugar is cooking, pour the egg whites into the bowl you plan to whip the icing in, then wait for the syrup to come to about 230 degrees F to 235 degrees F.

When the syrup is in this temperature range, begin whipping your egg whites. Start on low speed until they get frothy, then increase the speed to medium-high. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a slow, steady stream just after the eggs begin to stiffen and continue whipping until the meringue no longer slides in the bowl. Do not overbeat the egg whites.

When the sugar syrup comes to 245 degrees F, or the firm ball stage, it is ready to pour into the egg whites. Turn the mixer on high speed and immediately begin to pour the syrup – at a very SLOW and STEADY speed – into the whipping egg whites. Aim for the spot just between the wall of the bowl and the edge of the whip. Once all the sugar has been added, just beat the icing for 10 to 15 minutes until it is sufficiently cooled.

Now add in 2 sticks of the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time, with the mixer on medium. After all of the butter is added, turn the speed up to high. The whole process will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the entire bowl in the fridge overnight.

The next day, when you are ready, place the bowl over a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to melt about 1/4 of the buttercream. Whip on high speed—this might take a while. It will separate, then it is time to add the final 1/2 stick of softened butter, tablespoon by tablespoon. Continue whipping until it gets fluffy and light. Add in the vanilla extract.

Crispy Rice Treats

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Melt the butter over medium heat in a very large pot, browning the butter slightly. Once melted and brown, add the whole marshmallows. Stir the mixture until the marshmallows are completely melted.

Remove from heat, then immediately stir in the vanilla extract. Fold in the rice cereal. Make sure each piece of cereal is coated with the marshmallow mixture. Mix in the halved marshmallows and chopped oreos; mix well. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Using a rubber spatula, gently spread the mixture into the pan. Use another piece of parchment to press the mixture down into the pan. Do not pack it down with force, just press down lightly.

Allow the crispy treats to set for at least 1 hour at room temperature or 20 minutes in the fridge, and cool down enough to top with the buttercream and the rest of the chopped cookies. Place the treats in the fridge to firm up the buttercream before cutting into squares.

The winner of our Great American Dish Off Crispy Rice Treat Competition is Colleen Salterelli and her gluten-free, cookies and cream crispy rice treats. The judges couldn't believe they were gluten-free! Plus, as an added bonus, Colleen's recipe uses parchment paper for the pan instead of butter to save calories.