Healthy Star Crunch made with brown rice cereal, dairy-free chocolate, and date caramel. Your favorite classic treat with better ingredients! Gluten-free, vegan.
Little Debbie star crunch had quite the moment when I was in 6th grade. If there was a snack that everyone was eating, you bet those individually wrapped star crunch were it.
What is a Star Crunch?
If your 6th grade experience did not include star crunch mania, let me explain the appeal. The original store-bought version of a star crunch was a chewy cookie made of caramel, crispy rice, and milk chocolate.
A closer look at those ingredients and you’ve got corn syrup, wheat flour, palm kernel oil, sugar, whey, and malt barley flour. Not as desirable or gluten-free in that light.
Healthy Star Crunch Ingredients
So, in playing with the important elements that give this old school snack its magic—caramel, crispy rice, and chocolate—I found some alternative ingredients that are equally delicious. Here’s what you’ll need:
- gluten-free brown rice cereal
- dairy-free chocolate chips
- Medjool dates
- unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- maple syrup
- pure vanilla extract
For this healthier version, I swapped butter and sugar-laden caramel for date caramel. By blending Medjool dates, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract, you get a sweet golden sauce.
It’s likely you’ll never go back to regular caramel.
By folding the date caramel and melted dairy-free chocolate in with the brown rice cereal, all that’s left to do is drop and mold your cookies and set them in the fridge to chill.
The outcome is a chewy, crispy, chocolate cookie. And you’ll be reaching for more.
In speaking about nostalgic snacks and treats, this gluten-free candy list from a Dash of Megnut gives you a helpful breakdown as Halloween approaches!
More Gluten-Free Chocolate Snacks
Healthy Star Crunch
- 1 cup (195g) dairy-free chocolate chips
- 2 1/2 cups (88g) gluten-free brown rice cereal
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 cup Medjool dates, halved and pitted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Slice your dates and cover them in a small bowl with hot water. Allow to soak for at least 5 minutes. Once soaked, drain and transfer dates to a high powered blender. Add salt, coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Blend on high until smooth.
- Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate chips are almost entirely melted. Add coconut oil to chocolate. Stir until remaining chocolate chips and coconut oil have melted. Allow chocolate to cool for 2 minutes.
- Place brown rice cereal in a large bowl. Add a 1/2 cup of the date caramel followed by the melted chocolate to the rice cereal. Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold mixture until rice cereal is completely coated.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop rice mixture and place onto prepared baking sheet. Use your fingers to help form a tight disc. Press down on top of each disc slightly (using a small piece of parchment helps here). Mixture might seem crumbly, but once chilled it will set. Continue in even rows until all of rice mixture has been used.
- Place baking sheets in the refrigerator for star crunch to chill and set for at least 2 hours.
- Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.