Salted. Browned butter. Caramelized. Rice Krispie Treats. Surely, you can’t hold it against me. Who could resist? These are some of the most enchanting words in the dessert lexicon. I am weak within the earshot of them. And if you can imagine my husband–in his predictable but lovable answer to everything–whispering in my other ear that chocolate chips would really make these babies sing (fine, he doesn’t talk like that, but guess who has the last word here? nya-nya!), you can pretty put together the story of how we ended up with this.
Let’s jump right into the Lessons Learned, shall we?
1. In the Lesson I Have Already Learned Countless Times But Consistently Pretend to Forget File, there is the fact that one should not spend a surprising amount of money making a recipe unless they have some guarantee that it will be dreamy. You’d be surprised how those packaged, big brand foods like President Butter, Ghiradelli Chips, fortified Kelloggs breakfast cereals and even good old Jet-Puffed Marshmallows add up. You wouldn’t care a bit if it had worked, but as you lower the failure into the garbage, it’s hard not to picture the implied $20 bill also getting flushed. You could have bought a new tart pan! [Insert husbandgroan here.]
2. Chocolate chips mixed into warm, nay hot ingredients will melt. Yes, melt! Who would have thought? It may not mix will. It is certain not to be pretty. It cannot be undone once you realized it’s beginning to look like muddy footprints. Or worse.
3. Salted butter caramel is amazing. The first time I had it–in ice cream form, at Berthillon in Paris way too long ago–I wondered where it had been my whole life. And caramel may appear fluffy and gooey, especially when rendered from marshmallows, but in the end, it is not. It hardens. The Rice Krispie treats of your fond childhood memories are gooey. When cut into squares, they do not make a sound like sawing into a thick block of Styrofoam. They don’t leave fine-ground Rice Krispie crumbs everywhere.
4. They also have less than 20 percent the butter that this recipe does. Under one-fifth! Ow, my heart hurts.
5. In what should really be the first and biggest, and possibly only lesson that needs to be learned we have the old adage: If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. And especially not at an additional cost, ugliness, texture loss and more than five times the fat.
So, we decided to throw them away. I mean, I couldn’t fob them off on coworkers as I had planned to, as I didn’t wish to hear 25 times that day, “hm, I think I like the originals better,” and “is that SALT in there?” But then, there we were, sawing off one square after another, reminding ourselves between cronching mouthfuls that we really ought to throw them out already. They’re not that good! But… the butter caramel, the aggressive chocolate chunks… oh, just one more bite.
Late last night, before throwing them in the trash once and for all (and considering dousing them in dish soap) we had to admit: you know, they’re not bad… they’re just not as good as we remember.
Lesson five, people. It’s the only one you need to know.
Update: Look! I finally got these right. Check out the better version, Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats.
Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats
New York Times, 10/31/07
Proceed at your own risk, and only if you lack nostalgia for the originals. [Updated and now worth trying, 11/09: Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats! Check them out instead.]
Yield: 30 to 50 treats.
8 ounces butter, salted or unsalted, preferably cultured, plus extra for pan
1 10.5-ounce bag marshmallows
1 12-ounce box Rice Krispies cereal.
1. Line rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or wax paper, or butter it well.
2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Watch closely and stir often.
3. When butter is evenly browned, stir in marshmallows. (If using unsalted butter, stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt.) Melt and cook, stirring often, until mixture turns pale brown, then stir constantly until lightly browned but not dark, 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Turn off heat, add cereal, and mix well, preferably with a silicone spoon or a spatula. Scrape into prepared pan and press down lightly. If necessary, butter hands to press mixture flat. Let cool, and cut into squares or bars.