When I was studying abroad in London and Australia, I would get cards and little gifts in the mail from my mom. Sometimes they would be packages of my favorite cookies or just a small note to let me know she missed me. However, for Valentine’s Day, I would always get the same thing- a red or pink card, filled with a square of Ghiradelli chocolate (caramel smushed from the mail), signed from my family and most importantly, a paw print from my dog Jackson.
I guess it’s the simple things that make me happy. So this Valentine’s Day, instead of going crazy, (I think I’m a little burnt out from my cake extravaganza last weekend) I went for something simple- rice crispy treats. I thought about ways to improve this classic dessert and then I stumbled upon a recipe for brown butter rice crispy treats with vanilla and sea salt. Say whaaaat? Yea, exactly. Browned butter for a warm, caramel flavor, vanilla to round it out and a touch of sea salt for balance. Simple to make, tastes like heaven, and a plate of these will most certainly make that special someone fall for you. Or you can eat them out of the pan with your girlfriends while drinking wine and watching Bridesmaids. You know, or that.
This grown-up rice crispy treat is courtesy of Joanna Chang, the mastermind behind Flour Bakery in Boston, an honors graduate of Harvard, and a pastry genius. I really need to make an effort to visit the bakery in person, but until then, I modified the recipe that merry gourmet posted here.
Brown butter rice crispy treats with sea salt & vanilla (Adapted from Joanna Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe)
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (see here)
1 16-oz bag mini-marshmallows
1/2 tsp. sea salt
8 cups crispy rice cereal
Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan. (I use the butter wrapper) Add butter and vanilla to a large saucepan set over low heat. Continually stir the melted butter until it bubbles and foams, then turns brown and starts to smell nutty. Be sure to scrape up any bits on the bottom so as not to burn and do not walk away from the pan!
Once it turns brown, add salt and marshmallows and keep stirring. After the marshmallows melt, turn off the heat and stir in the crispy rice cereal. Spread into the pan and use a butter wrapper to smooth out the surface. (I like using a fondant smoother with a little bit of butter). Attempt to let the mixture cool an hour and then serve. Or, just wolf them down out of the pan because honestly, who can wait?