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June 25, 2011 / Natalie G.

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

I have an addiction and I’m not afraid to talk about it because I know I’ll never recover: I’m addicted to this food blog. Her recipes are foolproof and over the last 2 years I would say half of the things I have baked have been from her recipes. And the photographs are amazing. The good news: she is working on a cookbook! The bad news: it doesn’t come out for another year. I actually blogged about making these rice crispy treats on my other short-lived food blog and when I recently made them again I decided they were too good and too easy not to share.

Butter is amazing – Julia Child was a fan and so am I. This recipe employs a nice little technique that gives these rice crispy treats something the original doesn’t have, elevated flavor. Now I’m not saying they are something you would find in a high-class restaurant but they should be and someday if I open a restaurant (or more likely a bakery) they’ll be on the menu. Brown butter is a French technique known as beurre noisette and is the process of browning the milk solids and salt in butter while cooking off all of the water present. The resulting butter has a much nuttier flavor than melted butter and is a delicious addition to some baked good recipes. I imagine it would also be good with vegetables or in a sauce for fish – although I try not to slather my vegetables in butter to maintain some of the nutritional value.

This recipe also comes with a bit of warning: if you let the butter brown without watching it closely it will burn – I actually burnt butter for the first time after making this recipe numerous times because I got impatient and turned the heat up too much. Here is my advice: melt the butter until it begins to foam over medium to medium high heat but watch it very closely. Once it is all melted and it starts to foam, reduce the heat to medium low and stir constantly. It helps to have a kitchen with good light at this point because as soon as you start to see small brown particles forming on the bottom of the pan wait five to ten seconds and remove it from the heat. Continue to stir and the residual heat stored in the bottom of the pan will continue to cook the butter. The butter should smell nutty and be a light brown color – if it smells burnt or tastes bitter at all you have over browned it and will have to start again… which is sad and a waste of a perfectly good stick of butter. When in doubt use low heat and pull it off before you think it is ready – it is better for the butter to not be browned enough than for it to be burnt and unusable.

As for the salt in this recipe do not use regular table salt – it is very important to use sea salt in this recipe and I would argue in all of your cooking. But that is a whole different discussion for another post – and my friends will tell you, I’m really into salt. Trust me here – just go to the store and buy something that says sea salt – not rock salt, or kosher salt. A sel gris works nicely and I most recently made this with maldon salt. Yes. I’m a nerd who is really into salt.

Also: I’m headed off to Costa Rica for ten days with my family starting tomorrow. I’m going to try to write a post to publish while I’m gone but let’s be honest – I’m not packed yet and my cousins are coming over for dinner later and the house is still a mess… so we’ll see.

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
From: Smitten Kitchen

1 stick unsalted butter
1 10 ounce bag of marshmallows
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups (192 g) crisp rice cereal

Butter an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with 2 inch sides. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat until it is melted and begins to foam. Stir frequently. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir constantly until brown particles begin to form on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for about 30 seconds – keeping the butter moving as it will still be cooking and is at risk of burning. From the time it begins to take on color to the time it will burn is less than a minute so watch it carefully!

Add the entire bag of marshmallows and stir until smooth. I find that sometimes in order to get them to melt completely it is necessary to return the pan to low heat and use the end of the spatula to chop them up into smaller bits. Once smooth, add the crisp rice cereal and the salt and stir until mostly combined. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and use the back of the spatula to push it into the pan firmly and evenly. Allow to cool and cut into 2 x 2 squares – or however large you choose. Enjoy!

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