Kacang puteh, translated as “white nuts,” refers to the once-prevalent practice in Singapore of street vendors

Salted ‘Kacang Puteh’ Crisped Rice Treats

Kacang puteh, translated as “white nuts,” refers to the once-prevalent practice in Singapore of street vendors hawking boiled and roasted nuts and legumes as well as assorted fried snacks.

Today, there is only one such vendor left: Amirthaalangaram Moorthy. His little yellow cart tempts passersby with plastic tubs containing all kinds of crispy and crunchy gold rubble. For a dollar, you can get a paper cone filled with plain, steamed chickpeas; seasoned, roasted nuts and beans; and astral sprays of murukku, freshly fried vadai, tapioca crisps and shrimp crackers.


For the bars

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons (65 grams) virgin or refined coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters/93 grams) agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream (not cream of coconut) or other plant-based cream
  • One (10-ounce/285-gram) bag vegan marshmallows (see Where to Buy)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 grams) natural peanut butter, well-stirred and at room temperature
  • 2 cups (50 grams) puffed rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies (see notes, above)
  • 2 cups (170 grams) savory snacks, such as Bombay mix, chevda mix or murukku, larger noodles broken up into pieces no larger than 2 inches, plus more for optional garnish
  • 1 cup (45 grams) vegetable chips of choice, such as potato or tapioca, crushed, plus more for optional garnish
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) roasted nuts, chickpeas or other legumes, or a mix, plus more for optional garnish

For the glaze

  • 1/2 cup (63 grams) confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon thick nondairy yogurt, such as coconut, cashew or oat (may substitute with more lemon juice, if desired), plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed

Step 1

Make the bars: Spray an 8-inch square baking dish or pan with nonstick spray, then line it with two crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper long enough to have a generous overhang on all sides. Have ready a piece of 8-inch square of parchment paper or plastic wrap.

Step 2

In a medium pot over medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil with the garam masala, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula just until the spices are fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. (You should be able to smell the spices toasting as the oil melts.) Add the agave and coconut cream, stirring to combine. Once the mixture is emulsified, stir in the marshmallows until completely coated and reduce the heat to low. Patiently stir until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is smooth, 5 to 7 minutes; remove from the heat.

Step 3

Stir in the vanilla and salt. Gently fold in the peanut butter, 4 to 5 strokes, leaving streaks of marshmallow visible. (It’s important to add the peanut butter at this point and not earlier — direct heat will make it seize and separate.) The mixture will start to stiffen, but do not panic: The goal is to incorporate some of the peanut butter, while having the mixture still workable. Less stirring is better than too much.

Step 4

Add the rice cereal, snacks, chips and nuts, chickpeas or legumes and mix vigorously until everything is well-coated and incorporated, making sure to scrape around the sides and bottom of the pot. Working quickly, scoop all of the mixture into the prepared pan. Using the prepared sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, lightly and deftly flatten the gooey mixture all around the pan, evenly patting to smooth the surface and fill all the corners. Be gentle, yet firm. Avoid forcefully compressing the mixture, which will result in stiff, brick-hard bars instead of chewy, soft-set ones.

Step 5

Transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely (uncovered is okay), at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Step 6

Make the glaze: When ready to glaze the slab, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, yogurt and lemon juice until combined. Adjust the consistency using more sugar, yogurt and/or lemon juice until you achieve a fairly thin glaze that will create an even but translucent layer on top of the treats. If you prefer something thicker and sweeter, add more sugar.

Step 7

Pour the glaze over the slab in the pan. Use an offset spatula or small butter knife to spread the coating into an even layer, reaching the edges. If desired, top with additional cereal, snacks, chips and/or roasted nuts.

Step 8

Return to the refrigerator to let the glaze set, 10 to 15 minutes. (If you made a thicker glaze, it may take more time to set).

Step 9
(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing into 16 squares with a sharp knife.

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)


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