You can't go wrong with this enduring sweet

While almost everyone is familiar with the classic recipe for Rice Krispies Treats, slight variations on the original abound.

We think our recipe gets them just right, with the perfect ratio of marshmallow and butter to cereal for a bar with the sticky chew that kids love and that adults remember fondly.

The basic procedure is the same as the back-of-the-box recipe: Melt butter and marshmallows, mix in cereal, and press into a pan — it couldn’t be simpler. But we like a generous portion of these cereal treats; for thick, substantial squares, we pat the mixture into an 8-inch square pan instead of the usual 13-by-9-inch pan. Adding a little salt to the mix keeps sweetness in check.

Greasing the knife used to slice the bars ensures neat, easy-to-cut squares.

These rice crispy treats are delicious as is, but their simplicity also makes them an ideal backdrop for a whole host of flavorings and mix-ins, so we developed several variations sure to please any crowd.

Any brand of toasted rice cereal will work in this recipe.

RICE CRISPY TREATS

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 16

• 3 tablespoons unsalted

butter

• 10 ounces marshmallows

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 5 cups (5 ounces) crisped rice cereal

Start with an 8-inch square baking pan, and make a foil sling by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil so each is 8 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to one another, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Spray with vegetable oil spray.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over low heat. Add the marshmallows, vanilla and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth, about 6 minutes.

Off heat, stir in the cereal until incorporated. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, and press into an even layer with a greased spatula. Let treats cool for 30 minutes.

Using foil overhang, remove treats from pan. Cut into 16 squares, and serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 108 calories; 20 calories from fat; 2 g fat (1 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 6 mg cholesterol; 96 mg sodium; 22 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 1 g protein.

Packing in flavor

Almond joy: Stir 1 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut, 1 cup toasted sliced almonds and 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips into marshmallow mixture with cereal.

Chocolate-cherry: Add 1/2 cup white chocolate chips to pot with marshmallows. Stir 1 cup chopped dried cherries into marshmallow mixture with cereal. Microwave 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips in bowl at 50% power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 30-60 seconds. Drizzle over cooled treats. Let set for 15 minutes before cutting.

Double chocolate caramel turtle: Add 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips to pot with marshmallows. Stir 41/2 ounces quartered soft caramels and 1 cup toasted and chopped pecans into marshmallow mixture with cereal. Microwave additional 1/2 cup chocolate chips in bowl at 50% power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 30-60 seconds. Drizzle over cooled treats. Let set for 15 minutes before cutting.

Loaded: Stir 1 cup pretzels, broken into 1/2-inch pieces; 1/2 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts; 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips; and 1/2 cup toffee bits into marshmallow mixture with cereal.

Peanut butter: Add 1/2 cup peanut butter chips to pot with marshmallows. Stir 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts into marshmallow mixture with cereal. Microwave additional 1/2 cup peanut butter chips in bowl at 50% power, stirring occasionally, until melted. Drizzle over cooled treats. Let set for 15 minutes before cutting.

Salty cashew-caramel: Stir 11/2 cups salted roasted cashews, chopped coarse, and 41/2 ounces quartered soft caramels into marshmallow mixture with cereal.