Sometimes I feel like I should change the name of this blog to I LoveSmittenKitchen.com; more often than not, the recipes there are inspiring, well written, and above all delicious. So it’s little surprise that many of the recipes I’ve written about here came to me via Deb. Most of her recipes are near perfect written as is, so I’ll only make minor tweaks, but sometimes I just can’t leave well enough alone.
If it hadn’t been for some late night hunger pangs*, I might not have tinkered with these delightfully retro treats, because, quite frankly, not much can be improved upon the combination of marshmallows, brown butter, and rice krispies. But there it was, a little voice whispering in my head that a healthy punch of warm earthy cinnamon was just what these needed. Thankfully I had the forethought to scribble down my idea, simple as it was, and for the next few days, it was nearly all I could think about.
*Honestly, while I may not be my most alert late at night (much to Andrew’s chagrin I fall asleep on the couch halfway through a movie/TV show most nights), and I’d generally describe myself as more of a morning person, I find that I’m at my most creative just before bedtime. Weird, I know.
After two trips to the store (somehow, most of the marshmallows just kept disappearing, a mystery I may never solve), and a few simple steps, I tentatively cut in. Not one to mess with the classics, I was afraid that these might have been left best to my late-night food dreaming. But, shocker (OK not really, since I’m sharing these with you) they were even better than I had hoped, and judging by the half-eaten pan mere minutes later (hey, I had help!) a definite keeper.
FUN FACT: Did you know that the French call brown butter “beurre noisette,” which literally translates to hazelnut butter, despite not having a lick of nuts in it. I imagine this is likely because brown butter has a certain sweet nuttiness to it (like hazelnuts). FUN FACT OVER.
I am, and always have been, a sucker for rice krispie treats, though I find that more often than not they’re too sweet and a little one-note; that being said, if you handed me one of those store-bought ones in their blue metallic wrapper I’d happily gobble it up. These take it to the next level (if you’re going to indulge, why not indulge), by simply adding a little bit of salt, more butter than is standard, and a hefty sprinkling of cinnamon. I imagine these might also be very nice with pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon, or drizzled with melted milk chocolate.
Adapted, slightly, from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 16 2-inch squares
8 tablespoons (1 stick, or 4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 10-ounce bag mini-marshmallows
heaping ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups (6 ounces) Rice Krispies cereal (half of a 12-ounce box)
Grease an 8 by 8-inch square pan.
Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large pot. Once melted, whisk constantly til the butter froths and then begins to turn brown and smell nutty. Keep whisking until it is studded with deep caramel brown flecks, then immediately take off the heat (butter goes from brown to burnt very rapidly, so keep close watch). Add the salt and cinnamon, and whisk til incorporated. Add the marshmallows, and stir using a silicone spatula until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is uniformly smooth. Add the cereal and gently fold in, til evenly distributed.
Pour the cereal mixture into the prepped pan, and using a piece of waxed or parchment paper, gently press down into the pan to make an even layer. Allow to cool, then cut with a sharp knife into 16 squares (or whatever shape/size strikes your fancy).
While the classic Kellog’s Rice Krispies are great (and what I used in these photos), Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Brown Rice Crisps cereal is especially good here, as the brown rice subtly enhances the nutty flavor of the browned butter. Bonus: it makes these treats marginally more nutritious (though really, these will remain unflinchingly and unapologetically a dessert, never a health food).
I find it helps to use a light-colored pot when browning butter (so, generally speaking, not nonstick unless you have one of those new-fangled ceramic non-stick pots) as it allows you to better keep track of the change in color. Browning butter need not be difficult, but it will go from perfectly browned to burnt in a flash, so pay attention!
These are a gluten-free treat if you seek out the gluten-free version of Rice Krispies cereal, or the Whole Foods’ 365 Brand.