Even though I'm the only trained chef in my family, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my brothers and their culinary abilities.

The three of us were brought up to be independent and learned how to cook and bake our favourite dishes from a young age.

It has been a while since I've seen any members of my family and I miss them terribly.

That said, we have been so fortunate to have remained safe and healthy throughout the pandemic.

This week is my brother's birthday and I always think of him when I make Sweet Marie bars.

Crunchy, sweet, salty and moreish, these no-bake squares are a huge upgrade from your standard Rice Krispie treat.

Sweet Marie Bars are made with golden syrup, peanut butter and cereal. \ Janine Kennedy

Growing up, they were my brother's favourite - and since they're so easy to make, we'd often find a tray in the fridge (he'd whip up a batch after school).

I love the combination of salty, rich peanut butter and golden syrup. It results in a very sweet treat (a little goes a long way), but also one with real depth of flavour.

You don't need to use Rice Krispies, as I did here. You can use corn flakes, Cheerios or any other cereal mix you have on hand.

I like using locally made peanut butter, such as Nutshed or Harry's Nut Butter.

My top tip for this recipe is to really press the cereal mixture firmly into the tray - the firmer you press, the crunchier the end result will be.

Top with milk or dark chocolate, sprinkle with chopped, salted peanuts or a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. With a cup of hot coffee, these squares are heaven.

Sweet Marie bars

These no-bake treats are delicious with a cup of hot coffee. \ Janine Kennedy

Makes 12 large or 24 small squares


200g golden syrup

200g peanut butter

125g light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp sea salt

60g butter

500g Rice Krispies

200g melted chocolate (any kind)


  • 1 Line a rectangular baking tray with parchment and set aside.
  • 2 In a saucepan, combine the golden syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, butter and peanut butter.
  • 3 Heat the mixture over medium-low until melted together and gently bubbling. Let it bubble for one or two minutes, but not longer than that or it will turn into fudge.
  • 4 Add the sea salt to the mixture, mix and remove from the heat.
  • 5 Place the Rice Krispies (or whichever cereal you're using) and immediately pour over the hot peanut butter mixture. Gently mix with a spatula until the cereal is evenly coated.
  • 6 Pour the cereal mixture into the prepared tin. Using the bottom of a measuring cup (or something with an equally flat bottom); press the cereal mixture firmly into the base of the baking tray.
  • 7 Once the mixture is evenly pressed in, drizzle the melted chocolate over the top and gently smooth it out. Chill in the fridge or at room temperature until the chocolate has set.
  • 8 Portion into bars and either serve straight away or keep in an airtight container for up to a week.