As it turns out, the last days of October don’t awaken in me a desire to fly around on my broom, don a “sexy” nurse/maid/fireman outfit or even gorge myself on candy. Nope, according to a quick glance at my archives, apparently when Halloween approaches all I can think about is reinterpreting Rice Krispie Treats.
Unfortunately, I don’t seem to choose my recipes very well. Last year’s Peanut Butter Crispy Bars were delicious, but had structural issues that irked me. And two years ago, I fell prey to a Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treat that was all sorts of a styrofoam-textured disaster. Nevertheless, I haven’t been able to get them out of my head, so this year I decided I would conquer them once and for all. It helped that I knew exactly what went wrong the original dud of a clearly-untested recipe (hm, do I sound bitter?): the cereal to marshmallow ratio was unfeasibly high, more than double that of the original recipe and — small detail — marshmallows don’t caramelize very well, and should you succeed in getting them to, they don’t cool back down to anything gooey or soft. What a travesty.
But these, these I dare say are the best thing to happen to Rice Krispies Treats since Mildred Day of the home economics department at the Kellogg Company thought to apply marshmallows and melted butter to the puffed rice cereal in 1928. Oh yes, I’m enthralled enough with these to declare them that epic.
Even better, they’re so freaking easy to make, only five extra minutes, tops, more than the original which is incredibly convenient if you are finding yourself a little pressed for time these days. And I know what you’re thinking: “Gosh, Deb, I really wish you could have told me about these sooner, as I needed something to bring to a last-minute party on Saturday. Deb, where were you?!” (Okay, perhaps I overdramatize my party-saving skills a tad.) To which I can only respond, take it up with the monkey.
Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
What’s different about these? Oh, just a bit more (coughdouble) butter which you toast until it’s brown and nutty and help along with some coarse salt, just minor things. But it changes everything.
Makes 16 2-inch squares or 32 1- x 2-inch small bars
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce (285-gram) bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups (160 grams) crispy rice cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)
Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.
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. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.
As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.
Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. I liked to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I’ve sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners, though a silicon spatula works almost as well.
Let cool, cut into squares and get ready to make new friends.