What I’m about to say has been said before, but I’m going to say it anyway: your twenties are a weird time. It’s an in-between time, a crepuscular time — somewhere between night and day or day and night, when everything is dusky and mysterious and there isn’t a whole lot expected of you or held back from you. It’s a selfish time and a nostalgic time and an ambitious time all rolled into one, when you feel equally the pressure to figure everything out and the privilege to have nothing figured out. It’s a time I feel myself wishing away and wishing would last forever. And it’s a bamboozling time that, in my opinion, is perfectly explained by these rice krispie treats.
Allow me to explain: rice krispie treats are emblems of childhood. Requiring just three ingredients, they are a classic “kids in the kitchen” recipe and staples of school lunches and soccer games. But these rice krispie treats have grown up. No, they’re not yet a creme brulee or a flourless chocolate torte, but they’re getting there. At their core, they are still just butter, marshmallow, and cereal, still infused with childlike wonder and naivete. But take note! These treats have graduated to vanilla-infused brown butter and have dressed themselves in a delicate layer of chocolate. They’re living on their own in a new city (but still calling home to ask how to file taxes). They are the twenty-somethings of handheld desserts, and you should probably make them as soon as possible.
not yo mama’s rice krispie treats
Adapted from Baked Bree
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 (10-ounce) bags marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 cups Rice Krispies
8 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
Grease a 9 x 13 pan and/or line it with parchment paper. Set aside. Measure out 9 cups of Rice Krispies into a large bowl. Set this aside, too.
In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat – and then keep melting. The butter should first foam then turn a clear, dark brown (and it will start smelling nutty and delicious). The process of browning butter should take 5-7 minutes. Keep your eye on it THE WHOLE TIME, stirring frequently and scraping the little brown bits off the bottom. Don’t let it go too far, though, because you don’t want it to burn off.
Just as the butter reaches browned perfection, add the vanilla (it will foam again a little). Then add the marshmallows and stir continuously until they’ve melted into a smooth, luscious batter. Remove from heat and stir in salt.
Mix in the Rice Krispies and stir until the whole vat sticks together in one gooey, clumpy mass.
Pour into your prepared 9 x 13″ pan and press down firmly and evenly, making sure to fill all the corners. Set aside to cool.
In a double boiler (a real one or an improvised one like mine), melt chocolate over medium-low heat. Keep a close eye on it, of course, and stir frequently.
Using a spatula, spread chocolate over the Rice Krispie treats. Let cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour before slicing and serving.
The ratio of marshmallow to cereal is pretty much perfect in these treats, and the brown butter gives a depth of nutty flavor you didn’t think possible in so humble a dessert. The chocolate layer is pure decadence. Feel free to step up the class even more by using dark chocolate and adding a sprinkle of sea salt. Whatever you do, make sure you cut these treats into generous squares – you’ll be going back for seconds anyway.
A note about vanilla: The original recipe called for a vanilla bean, cut in half and scraped into the browning butter. While I’m sure that would taste divine, I am definitely on the poor side of twenty-something and cannot, with clear conscience, purchase vanilla beans at $13.99 a bottle (a bottle, mind you, contains two beans). If you are in such a place financially, I encourage you to go the bean route. If not, vanilla extract works just fine.