Crisp and crunchy with a buttery chocolate coating, these roses des sables are a quick and easy no bake chocolate dessert that you can prepare in 15 minutes and serve in less than an hour! Make them with just three ingredients: unsweetened cornflakes, your favorite dark chocolate, and a bit of salted butter. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and serve - that's it for a simple and indulgent treat!
Sometimes you just want a simple, easy dessert, one that you can make in a short amount of time without many ingredients or fuss. Breakfast cereal is a quick way to achieve this. Since cereal became a common household item in the middle of the 20th century, people around the world have fashioned it into a wide variety of desserts.
Here in the US, we have the classic marshmallow rice krispie treats, as well as scotcheroos, made with puffed rice, butterscotch, and peanut butter. We also have muddy buddies (also known as puppy chow or monkey munch), woven cereal squares coated in melted chocolate and peanut butter then tossed in powdered sugar. There are cornflake marshmallow chocolate chip cookies, made famous by Christina Tosi of Milk Bar. Australia and New Zealand have honey joys or honey crackles, a corn flake dessert made with honey and sugar.
And France has roses des sables, known in English as desert roses or sand roses. They're made with cornflakes, good quality bar chocolate, and salted butter. Some recipes call for additional sugar, but I didn't find it necessary at all. The chocolate treat is named for the unique desert crystal formations that look much like these easy no bake chocolate cornflake cookies.
These formations occur most commonly in sandy, arid areas that once contained salt water. They have been found in the Saharan desert regions of Tunisia and Algeria, as well as the dry, desert plains of Oklahoma in the United States.
- Dark chocolate - Dark chocolate bars range from 50-90% cocoa. I tested this recipe with 55% cocoa chocolate chips and both 62% and 72% cocoa chocolate bars.
- I preferred the flavor of the 62% chocolate paired with the butter and cornflakes.
- The consistency of the recipe made with melted bar chocolate was superior to the version with chocolate chips. If you have access to bar chocolate, I would avoid using chocolate chips, as they often contain fillers intended to prevent them from melting and losing shape. The texture and consistency of the final product will be better using a good quality bar chocolate.
- Salted butter - Butter adds additional flavor, and helps thin the chocolate so that you can mix it with the cornflakes more easily. Most of my recipes call for unsalted butter in order to better control the total amount of salt in the recipe. However, here I've chosen to use a good quality salted butter. I wanted the salt flavor, but didn't want to risk uneven pockets of graininess from adding it myself.
- Corn flakes - The foundation of the recipe that provides a nice taste and a satisfying crunch. Standard supermarket variety corn flakes are all you need. I used unsweetened cornflakes. Sugared cornflakes, or frosted flakes, would be too sweet.
- Kosher salt - Sprinkle a bit of Kosher salt on top of the roses des sables prior to letting them set. It adds a lovely depth of flavor.
See recipe card for quantities.
Follow these simple step by step instructions and photos to make roses de sables. Find the detailed instructions on the recipe card below.
Step 1: Line a 24 well mini muffin tin with mini paper liners.
Step 2: Measure the cornflakes out into a wide salad bowl. If needed, measure the cornflakes out by hand to ensure you have mostly whole pieces rather than crumbs. Set aside.
Step 3: Melt the butter and finely chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or a heatproof glass or metal bowl that fits over your pot of simmering water). Stir to completely incorporate butter.
Step 4: Pour chocolate mixture over cornflakes. Using a silicone spatula, use a gentle folding motion to coat the cereal with the chocolate mixture. Slide the spatula under the cornflakes, then lift and turn the spatula upside down. Do not press on the mixture. Be patient - it will take about 5 minutes of careful folding to ensure you coat the majority of the cornflakes.
Step 5: Use a medium cookie scoop or spoon to scoop the chocolate covered cereal into the lined muffin tin. When finished, you should have about 20 mini muffin-sized treats.
Hint: Gently rap the mini muffin pan on the countertop as you're filling the wells. This will help ensure the chocolate covered cereal settles and doesn't leave big gaps. If desired, use your fingers to place a few of the cornflakes at perpendicular angles to more closely approximate the look of the desert rose crystal formations.
Step 6: Sprinkle each rose des sables with a bit of flaky sea salt. Let set at room temperature, or place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill. Store in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool location. If it's warm where you live, store in the refrigerator (see storage info for more).
- Unsalted butter - If you only have unsalted butter on hand, feel free to use it. Simply add ⅛ teaspoon fine salt to the butter and chocolate mixture as you melt it so that it fully incorporates.
- Vegan butter - If you wish to make the recipe fully vegan, use a vegan chocolate and make sure your cornflakes are also vegan. Some contain Vitamin D3, which is often derived from sheep lanolin. Feel free to substitute the unsalted butter with your favorite vegan stick butter.
If you wish to try some variations on the traditional recipe, consider the following:
- White chocolate - Use white chocolate instead of dark chocolate. Since white chocolate contains more cocoa butter, reduce the total amount of the butter in the recipe by 14 grams (1 Tablespoon). Do NOT use white chocolate chips (which rarely contain much white chocolate). Seek out a good quality white chocolate bar. Read my notes on high quality white chocolate in this white chocolate carrot cake bar recipe (scroll down to the ingredients section on white chocolate topping)
- Add-ins - Add a few Tablespoons of coconut flakes, raisins, or chopped nuts.
- Kid friendly - Top with sprinkles or jimmies for a festive look.
- Citrus zest - Stir in a Tablespoon of finely grated citrus zest (typically the zest of one lemon or orange)
- Easter nests - Another common use for chocolate coated cereals is to form them into Easter or spring themed bird nests. To do this, increase the size to standard muffin papers and tins and make an indentation in the center of each pile of chocolate coated cereal. Once hardened, place candy coated chocolate mini eggs in the center of the chocolate nests.
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While the vintage mini muffin tins I've used as props in the photographs look great, for baking I prefer to use this 24 well nonstick mini muffin pan.
These are the parchment paper mini muffin tin liners that I use.
I use this medium cookie scoop which measures out 1 ½ Tablespoons - it's a size 40 - to portion out these roses des sables. It's an incredibly helpful tool for drop cookies as well.
Store these chocolate treats in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If the temperature is hot where you are, consider placing them in a cool, dry location. They may be refrigerated, but risk losing their crunch after a day or two.
I kept some in the refrigerator overnight to test storage options, and mine were still crispy the next day. They didn't last long enough to test any further than that...
Use a wide bowl, such as a salad or pasta bowl, to toss the cornflakes with the melted chocolate mixture. You want to have plenty of space to complete the gentle folding action. A narrow bowl with steep sides will make folding more difficult and you will risk crushing more of the flakes as you mix.
Roses Des SablesPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 56 grams (4 Tablespoons) salted butter
- 200 grams (7 ounces) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 62%)
- 100 grams (3⅛ cups) corn flakes
- flaky sea salt, or Kosher salt, to sprinkle on top
- Line a 24 well mini muffin tin with mini paper liners. Set aside.
- Measure the cornflakes out into a wide salad bowl. If needed, measure the cornflakes out by hand to ensure you have mostly whole pieces rather than crumbs. Set aside.100 grams (3⅛ cups) corn flakes
- Melt the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or a heatproof glass or metal bowl that fits over your pot of simmering water). Stir until butter is completely incorporated.56 grams (4 Tablespoons) salted butter, 200 grams (7 ounces) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 62%)
- Pour chocolate mixture over cornflakes. Using a silicone spatula, use a gentle folding motion to coat the cereal with the chocolate mixture. Slide the spatula under the cornflakes, then lift and turn the spatula upside down. Do not press on the mixture. Be patient - it will take about 5 minutes of careful folding to ensure the majority of the cornflakes are coated.
- Use a medium cookie scoop or spoon to scoop the chocolate covered cereal into the lined muffin tin. If desired, use your fingers to place a few of the cornflakes at perpendicular angles to more closely approximate the look of the desert rose crystal formations. When finished, you should have about 20 treats.
- Sprinkle each rose des sables with a bit of flaky sea salt. Let set at room temperature, or place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill. Store in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool location.flaky sea salt, or Kosher salt, to sprinkle on top
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