Posts Tagged candy

Maple Brown Butter Crispy Treats

Rice Krispie treats are for summer. I mean, sure, you can make them any time, but some desserts are just designed for summer. They’re light (so you don’t feel quite as wrong putting on a bathing suit after having one). They’re quick and simple (the sun sets late in summer, leaving less time to make dessert). They leave the oven off and only use the stove for a moment (so you don’t boil alive just from making dessert if you’re living in the South in mid-August).

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So you may be wondering why I’m writing about them on a rather chilly evening in February. Maple syrup, folks. Any dessert can be made to suit cooler months with  maple syrup and a little nutmeg.

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I’ve seen people try to tweak Rice Krispie treats before. I’ve seen red velvet ones and Nutella ones and a lovely Dulce de Leche version brought to parties. Inevitably, people try them. The comments tend to include phrases like “how unique!” or “I never would have thought of that!” but no one goes back for seconds, and eventually someone will just admit what they’re all thinking: “It’s not quite the same as I remember. ”

So knowing that, why would I try yet another version? First of all, it’s winter. Regular Rice Krispie treats aren’t right for winter. Secondly, it’s Deb’s fault. (Can I just start saying that about everything from now on? Okay, thanks.)

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This recipe is adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Go buy it already. Yes, it’s that good. Her version isn’t maple flavored and contains no nutmeg, but there’s browned butter in hers and the combination of all three is what really makes these treats perfect.

Ingredients (makes an 8×8 pan, about 16 servings)

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1 stick (8 T) butter

1/4 cup maple syrup (grade B if you can find it)

1/2 t nutmeg

pinch salt

1 10-oz bag marshmallows

6 cups Rice Krispies

Directions

Place the butter in a large pot over medium heat.

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Melt it.

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Keep it on the burner. It will froth and begin to brown. Once it starts to smell a bit nutty and reaches a rich amber color, remove the pot from heat.

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Add the maple syrup. It will bubble like mad.

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Add marshmallows. Stir them in until they melt. This is faster with the mini mallows, but use any kind you like.

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Add salt and nutmeg and fold them into the marshmallow mixture as well.

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Pour on the cereal and fold it into the marshmallow mixture until it’s all thoroughly coated.

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Press the treats into a buttered 8×8 pan.

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Let them cool and set for at least an hour or so. Cut into squares and serve.

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I don’t mean to brag*, but these treats? People went back for seconds. And thirds. And demanded the recipe. there may have been gushing. Not a bad result for a 5-ingredient dessert made in 10 minutes.

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*Okay, that’s a lie. Totally bragging.  Seriously though, look at this nutmeggy close-up. You can’t stay mad.

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Candy is Dandy: Don’t be afraid of caramel

A lot of people are afraid to make their own candy. I’m here to tell you that it just isn’t scary. Yes, it’s temperamental, and yes, it likes to burn. But if it does, you just throw it out and start over. You’ve wasted what, eight minutes and a cup of sugar? Maybe I’m not scared of it because I made my first hard candy at the age of eleven, and my grandmother didn’t seem to think we needed to worry about my eleven-year-old self alone in the kitchen with 320°F sugar, so I didn’t either. And we ended up with bright, tasty lemon hard candies, only a few of which were burned. I think, actually, that worrying about it makes it harder. So here are a few tips, from someone who isn’t afraid to get burned.

1: Don’t use a candy thermometer! I can’t stress this enough. If you can see the sugar, you know what’s happening. By the time a candy thermometer registers the right temperature, it’s too late. Your candy will burn because you were looking for a number instead of a caramel color.

2: Be prepared. If you’re adding cream or butter to the caramel, have it measured and ready next to the stove before you begin to heat the sugar. You do not have time to measure a cup of cream between the time you take the caramel off the heat and the time it burns. If you’re adding nothing, have a pan of ice water waiting on the counter. Before you start the caramel, make sure the base of the pan you are using fits into the ice water pan. Fill it with at least 3/4 of an inch of ice water before you start making caramel. Seriously, once you turn the heat on under that sugar, you cannot look away. This happens fast.

3: Use a bigger pot than you think you need, especially if you’re adding cream. I used a 3-quart pot to make 1 cup of sugar into caramel, because when this stuff bubbles it goes absolutely crazy and you do not want it spilling over the top. Especially if, like me, you’re dumb enough to use your hands to try to stop it. We’re not gonna talk about that.

4: It’s okay if it burns. Just clean the pot by bringing some water to a boil in it (this loosens the caramel), scrub it out, and start over!

Ingredients

Sugar. About 1 cup should do for most purposes.

3/4 cup of cream for later

add salt, spices, or colorings to the cream, not the sugar

Directions

Pour sugar into a nice deep pot. Turn the burner on high, and stand ready with silicone implement in hand.

Just when you think nothing’s ever going to happen (after maybe 90 seconds), you’ll notice a bit of amber liquid in the bottom of the pot.

I won’t call what you have to do here stirring, just scrape things around, always toward the center, as more and more sugar melts.

Once it’s mostly melted, I get a little impatient and start squashing the clumps of sugar that stay behind with my spatula. That deep amber color on the edges is what we’re looking for.

As soon as it’s all nice and amber, remove from the heat and pour in the cream, stirring madly as you do. If I hadn’t hamstrung myself with a camera, I might have even switched for a whisk. Because that would have been smart. This picture was taken after the hissing, steaming bubble pile subsided, by the way. This stuff damn near explodes.

Stir until it’s a nice smooth consistency. Any recalcitrant sugar lumps can easily be plucked out with a spoon.

Use to top ice cream or yesterday’s stout cake or really any other dessert you can think of.

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