I temporarily lost my kitchen mojo last week. It was terrible. I couldn't find anything fun or interesting to make and when I finally did I totally screwed it up. I burnt two dozen cupcakes and somehow screwed up two pies that had taken most of the day to make.
So I decided to go old school and keep it simple. Rice Krispie treats. A kindergardener can make those, so I figured even I could manage success. Plus, who doesn't love these?
The addition of real vanilla bean and browned butter gives these a richer, nuttier flavor and takes them from a simple childhood treat to a sophisticated dessert. Make these for your super bowl party or send them to school with your kids for a Valentines Day. And if you've also lost your kitchen mojo, I guarantee they'll get you out of your funk.
Here's the recipe:
Brown Butter Crispy Rice Treats
flour, by Joanne Chang
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Two 10-ounce bags marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 cups crispy rice cereal
Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, coat it with nonstick cooking spray, or line it with parchment paper.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. As the butter melts, use the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean directly into the butter. (Reserve the pod for another use. I throw mine into my sugar jar to make vanilla sugar).
Once the butter has melted, it will start to bubble and crackle. Watch the butter carefully and you will see it slowly browning. As soon as the bubbling subsides, after about 5 minutes, the butter will be fully browned and you will need to add the marshmallows. (Be attentive, because if you don't add the marshmallows right away, the butter may burn.) Add the marshmallows and salt and stir constantly over low heat, until the marshmallows are completely melted and the vanilla seeds are evenly distributed.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the cereal, and mix well with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and pat into an even layer. Let cool for about 1 hour, or to room temperature, then cut into 12 pieces.
These treats can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.