Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Healthy Pistachio Cherry Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cereal Treats

I am in love with ChocZero's amazing new keto-friendly marshmallows. As soon as I received my first order, I knew I wanted to pair them with Magic Spoon cereal to make a healthier version of my husband's favorite marshmallow cereal treats. However, I didn't want to make just a plain, garden-variety, healthified version of the traditional treats. Instead, I came up with this fabulous, extra-delicious recipe where the vanilla flavored marshmallow and frosted cereal is studded with bursts of extra flavor from chopped salted pistachios, unsweetened dried cherries and sugar-free dark chocolate chips.

In today's review, I'm delighted to share my brand new, original recipe that is gluten-free, grain-free and has no added sugars. Enjoy!

Low carb, keto-friendly pistachio cherry chocolate chip marshmallow ceral treats <5 net carbs per serving
My photos don't do justice to these firm yet ooey-gooey, healthy marshmallow cereal treats studded with chopped pistachios, dried cherries and dark chocolate chips. They're insanely good!

Healthy Marshmallow Cereal Treats That Taste Even Better Than the Original!

One of my favorite things about these treats is that they are firm and non-sticky when cooled while also having a fun, ooey-gooey, chewy consistency when you bite into them. This recipe truly exceeded even my high expectations for developing it. More importantly, it also earned the ultimate compliment from my husband, a dyed-in-the-wool Rice Krispie treats lover who said these are even better than the ones made from the sugar-laden original recipe!

I do want to give credit to two recipes that influenced the development of mine. The first is Scott Loitsch's Rice Krispie Treats recipe (account required) from The New York Times' "NYT Cooking" section, which gave me the idea to brown the butter before stirring in the marshmallows. The second is Maya Krampf's Healthy Rice Krispie Treats recipe from the Wholesome Yum website, which recommended coarsely chopping the cereal (I decided to coarsely crush mine instead).

The idea of adding chopped pistachios, cherries and sugar-free dark chocolate chips was entirely my own.

Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Ingredients Are Just Healthy Options. Make These Treats Your Way!

If you aren't concerned about healthy eating, feel free to substitute conventional marshmallows, chocolate chips and your favorite plain or frosted cereal (including Rice Krispies, if you like) to make these scrumptious sweet treats. 

You definitely don't want to miss out on this fabulous, extra-special version of the beloved, traditional Rice Krispie treats recipe. Your family is sure to love my new variation!

Healthy Pistachio Cherry Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cereal Treats Recipe

Platter of healthy pistachio cherry chocolate chip marshmallow cereal treats
I wish you could taste these incredibly yummy treats that no one would believe are actually healthy!

Author: Margaret Schindel

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

Cooling Time: 60 minutes

Servings: 16



  1. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan. Line it with baking parchment, leaving enough overhang to serve as handles. Generously butter both the parchment-lined pan and an additional small sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Use your hands to mix the coarsely crushed cereal with the chopped pistachios and dried cherries. Gently rub the cherry pieces between your fingers to coat with cereal crumb "dust" so they don't stick together. Set the mixture aside.
  3. In a 5-quart, nonstick stock pot, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat until it starts to foam. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for another two to three minutes, stirring constantly with a silicone spoon or spoonula (spoon spatula), until the milk solids turn a deep golden brown. (Note: It took about five minutes on my glass top electric stove.) 
  4.  Use the back of the silicone spoon to smear some of the melted, browned butter halfway up the sides of the pot and add the marshmallows, salt and vanilla. Take the pot off the heat and immediately start stirring the marshmallows into the hot butter until they are mostly melted.
  5. Quickly stir in the cereal, pistachio and dried cherries mixture.
  6. Pour/scrape half of the mixture into the prepared baking pan, then sprinkle with half of the dark chocolate baking chips. Use the extra sheet of buttered parchment to press down gently to level the surface. Quickly repeat with the other half of the marshmallow mixture and the remaining chocolate chips.
  7. Allow to cool at room temperature for 60 minutes.
  8. Use the overhanging parchment paper "handles" to life the cooled slab out of the pan and invert it onto a cutting board. Peel off the parchment and use a long, sharp chef's knife to cut the slab into 16 squares.
  9. Turn the squares right side up, then serve. Wrap any leftover pieces individually in either wax paper or parchment paper and place inside an airtight storage container. Store at room temperature (do not refrigerate, which will cause them to harden too much) or freeze.

Nutrition Facts

Here are the nutrition facts for one serving of this recipe as calculated by the Carb Manager premium app, using the My Recipes feature to create a custom recipe and entering the ingredients and quantities listed in this recipe post. My photo of all the ingredients to shows the exact brands and products I used for each ingredient (the butter is Vital Farms unsalted grass-fed butter).

Nutrition facts for this recipe calculated in Carb Manager premium app
I used the Carb Manager premium app's custom recipe feature to calculate the nutrition facts for this recipe, using the exact brands shown in my ingredients photo.

Tips for Making My Extra-Special Healthy Marshmallow Cereal Treats

Here are my tips for getting great results.

Choose the Ingredients That Fit Your Dietary Requirements and Taste Preferences

Ingredients for recipe
These are the exact ingredients and brands I used, and the ones on which the nutrition facts are based.

I chose ChocZero marshmallows with no added sugar and ChocZero dark chocolate sugar-free baking chips, which are sweetened with low-glycemic sweeteners that don't upset my tummy, unlike some other brands that give my husband and me gastric distress. (Note: I bought my baking chips last year, before the packaging was updated.)

Similarly, I chose Magic Spoon grain-free, gluten-free frosted cereal with no added sugars, one of the few such cereals that doesn't cause us digestive issues. (I initially bought a variety pack to try several flavors after reading my fellow Review This Reviews contributor Barbara's Magic Spoon keto cereal product review and both my husband and I really like all the flavors we have tried so far.) 

If you want to make these treats low carb and keto-friendly, be sure to choose unsweetened dried cherries with no added sugars and minimal other ingredients. I chose unsweetened Sunrise Dried Cherries that contain only one ingredient: sweet cherries. They are surprisingly sweet, moist and delicious, and since the 1/3 cup used in this recipe is divided among 16 servings, the net carbs can fit within all but the most strict keto diet regimens. They also add a nice bit of dietary fiber and healthy polyphenols.

Crush the Cereal While It's Still Inside the Bag

Magic Spoon frosted grain-free cereal crushed with rolling pin
I used a rolling pin to coarsely crush the cereal inside the bag before opening it.

The first time I made these I tried coarsely chopping the cereal, but found it made a mess that was hard to corral. Pressing on the cereal with a rolling pin while it's still inside the sealed bag is a much neater and, for me, easier way to accomplish the same end.

Line Your Baking Pan With Parchment and Butter Generously

"Mise en place" of prepared and measured ingredients with parchment paper lined and buttered baking pan
After crushing my cereal and chopping my pistachios and dried cherries, I measure and set out all my ingredients ("mise en place") so I can move quickly during this recipe, when time is of the essence.

Keto marshmallows with no added sugar do not behave exactly the same way as conventional marshmallows made with sugar, especially when they are melted.

Trust me when I tell you that butter alone, no matter how generously applied, is not enough to prevent this marshmallow mixture from gluing itself to your baking pan!

Make sure to butter your 9x9-inch square baking pan (to help prevent the parchment paper from sliding around), paying special attention to the corners, line the buttered pan with two sheets of parchment paper and then generously butter the parchment. Make sure to cut the parchment paper long enough so that the overhang can serve as handles to let you lift the cooled marshmallow cereal treats out easily. 

Mix the Crushed Cereal, Chopped Pistachios and Dried Cherries

Coarsely crushed cereal mixed with chopped pistachios and dried cherries
Mixing the cereal, chopped pistachios and dried cherries ahea of time helps to ensure that they are evely distributed into the browned butter-marshmallow mixture quickly.

As soon as the marshmallows are added to the browned butter, the mixture will be very thick and can harden if stirred too long or reheated. Combining the pistachios and dried cherries into the cereal ahead of time lets you incorporate these dry ingredients into the thick, melted marshmallow and butter mixture quickly and still get a fairly even distribution.

Tip: Use your hands to mix the nuts and fruit into the coarsely crushed cereal and rub the sticky chopped cherry bits between your fingers to coat them with cereal crumb "dust" and separate them.

Brown the Melted Butter for a Rich, Slightly Caramelized Flavor

Pot of melted butter, foaming
When the melted butter starts to foam, turn the heat down to low and stir constantly...

browned melted butter in pot
...until the milk solids turn a deep golden brown.

This is a trick I picked up from Scott Loitsch's Rice Krispie Treats recipe in NYT Cooking, and it's a dandy one. 

The added richness and depth of flavor is subtle but significant!

Add the Chocolate Chips in Layers (vs. Mixing Them In)

Keto marshmallow cereal treats mixture pressed into lined pan and sprinkled with chocolate chips
To avoid partially melting the chocolate chips, sprinkle them in the middle and on top of the marshmallow-cereal mixture.

I wanted the chips to stay intact and produce distinct "pops" of dark chocolate flavor rather than having it marbled throughout the vanilla marshmallow cereal base. So, I decided not to mix the chocolate chips into the coarsely crushed cereal with the chopped pistachios and dried cherries to avoid the risk of them partially melting when they were mixed into the warm marshmallow and butter mixture. 

Instead, I pressed half of the marshmallow-cereal mixture into the prepared pan, sprinkled on half the chocolate chips, then repeated before pressing gently with a piece of buttered parchment paper to level the surface and press in the baking chips.

Note: I love the paring of the dark chocolate with the pistachios and dried cherries, but you could substitute ChocZero milk chocolate chips if you prefer.

Cut With a Long, Sharp Chef's Knife

Cooled keto marshmallow cereal treats lifted out of baking pan with the help of the parchment paper overhang
Using the long parchment paper overhang as handles makes it easy to lift the cooled, uncut slab of marshmallow cereal treats out of the pan in one piece.

Inverted cereal treats slab cut into 16 squares
Invert the cooled slab onto a cutting board, peel off the buttered parchment and cut into 16 squares.

Using a long, sharp knife to cut these treats is extremely helpful. I use the chef's knife from our excellent, inexpensive Astercook 15-piece high-carbon steel knife set with steak knives and storage block (read my review). I had no trouble cutting the slab into squares with this knife, but if yours starts to stick, run it under hot water in between cuts.

As you can see, the slab was inverted after I peeled off the parchment paper. I cut them that way and then turned them right side up before serving.


Healthy Pistachio Cherry Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cereal Treats Recipe by Margaret Schindel

Posts About My Keto Diet Journey

My First Year on The Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe

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  1. Margaret, thanks for 'inventing' and sharing your healthy marshmallow cereal treat recipe. I am sure there are many with dietary restrictions who will be happy to have a tasty treat that will fit their requirements.

  2. Elf, thank you so much for your kind words. These are way too good not to share and can even be made with conventional marshmallows, cereal and chocolate chips made with sugar if that’s your preference.

  3. It is amazing how you have really taught yourself a whole new way of cooking by familiarizing yourself with non-standard ingredients. I really admire your determination and dedication. Your treats look and sound delicious! Cherry chocolate chip is quite tempting.

  4. Thanks so much for the wonderful compliment, Ms. Mouse! What’s great about this recipe is that you can easily swap regular marshmallows, cereal and chocolate chips if you prefer. The browned butter and mix-ins really do take these childhood treats to a new level!

  5. Well that looks and sounds incredible - I'm always impressed with how ambitious you are with finding and baking/cookinig keto recipes! I think I don't like cooking lately? But every single time I see one of your delicious Keto posts I get a little more motivated - You are an inspiration in the healthy eating department!

    1. Wow, Barbara, what a fabulous compliment! I, too, go through bouts when cooking seems more of an obligation than fun, but developing new recipes has always been a pleasurable activity for me. Figuring out ways to make healthy, delicious low carb alternatives to our favorite foods is a lot of fun, when the mood or inspiration strikes me. These healthy marshmallow cereal treats are quick and easy, and definitely not just for kids! I hope you decide to try them (or maybe drop a hint in Justin’s ear and see whether he’d like to whip up a quick batch for you, lol).

  6. A very interesting variation of Rice Krispy treats!


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