My husband is a lawyer, and since we arrived in Rutland more than two years ago, he’s been working for a few different judges as a law clerk. This has meant more than a few potlucks in various courthouses around town. Though he is a good cook, I enjoy the opportunity to stretch my cooking skills a little and impress with something fancy.
Since I had a baby around Christmas, this has become a little trickier. Gone are the times when I could spend all day preparing the perfect dish or decorating cupcakes or doing several trial runs to get a non-grainy meringue. Now it’s about “simple but good.”
Earlier this year, I attended the grand opening of the new Planned Parenthood clinic, my beloved former place of work before I had my son. There was an impressive spread of snacks — fruit plates, cheese plates and a table of baked goods, heaving under the weight of the treats piled upon it. It was one of these items that caught my eye: an innocuous looking beige cube, nestled in a paper muffin cup. The label on the platter was “Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Squares.”
Okay, sure, look I’ll admit it — they had me at “salted.” And I wasn’t let down, they were delicious. My husband assured me that Rice Krispie treats were simple to make, and he generously offered to be my taste tester. Honestly, how did I get so lucky? I found a recipe on my trusty favorite recipe website, Smitten Kitchen. Deb, bless her many times over, had done the hard work for me. I gave her recipe a spin, and though it turned out really delicious, I didn’t think the “salted” was salty enough, so I doubled it the next time I made it (poor, long-suffering husband and his coworkers!).
I made these treats a few times for various small gatherings, but the true test was to come at a birthday gathering at the courthouse. I went all in with the salt, true to my instincts, and I think the results spoke for themselves. People had heard tell of the treats, and did not seem disappointed. But truly the greatest compliment was when the leftovers were being gathered to be left in a staff break room and my husband’s boss, a federal judge, quietly requested that they be brought back to their chambers for enjoyment solely by his team.
In fact, all the wonderful employees in the building know how to be included in the next run of treats. For example, a passing utterance of wonder that my husband stays so thin with “a wife that cooks like that” will get you a double-chocolate muffin, quick smart.
Anyway, the Rice Krispie squares have “gone down a treat” (as we say down under) since I first made them. And now, dear readers, I entrust this recipe to you in the hope that you and yours will enjoy them as much as I and mine have, which is to say, a lot!
And the best thing about this recipe in our current climate? A little stove work, but no baking, so the oven stays blessedly off.
Salted brown butter rice crispy treats
(adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)
- ¼ cup (1 stick) butter
- 10-oz bag of marshmallows
- Heaping ½ teaspoon of coarse kosher salt or flaky sea salt (or flat ½ teaspoon table salt)
- 6 cups of crispy rice cereal (about half a 12-oz box)
- Coat an 8-inch brownie or square cake pan with butter or nonstick spray.
Set a pot on the stove on medium heat. It needs to be decently big, enough for 6 cups of rice cereal, and should be non-stick.
Melt the butter in the pot. First it melts, then goes foamy, then it’ll go clear and start to get a golden-brown color and a nutty aroma. Stir constantly, scraping the bottom as you go to get any bits. Don’t rush this process, and keep your eye on the it, as the butter can go from perfectly nutty to burned very quickly. If you burn the butter, start over. Don’t waste the other ingredients.
As soon as you smell that nutty aroma, turn the heat off and dump in the marshmallows. Stir to melt and incorporate the marshmallows into the butter. The residual heat has always been enough to melt them in my experience, but if not, turn the heat back on low until melted and smooth.
Stir the cereal and salt together and add to the pot. Stir quickly with a sturdy, flexible spatula to make sure you can scrape all the rice cereal grains into the mixture. When it is all thoroughly incorporated, dump the mixture into the prepared pan and use either wax paper or a spatula (greased a little works best in both methods) to press the mixture down very firmly into all the corners, so it gets compressed into a flat slab. Leave to cool and set for a couple of hours, cut into squares when completely cool.
Fran is a new stay-at-home mom who moved to Rutland from Australia in 2015.