Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Brown Butter

If you’ve had a rice krispie treat that tastes different, and significantly better, than the ones that are typical, I bet that this is recipe that you’ve tried. This is the kind of rice krispie treat that gets accused of being laced with some other type of illegal substance, because it’s so addicting and so good. And since I’m already perhaps one of the biggest fans of these crazy simple, crazy good desserts, I’m an even bigger fan of these. So, for all my Texan cousins out there, here you go! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. The recipe comes from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook, one of my favorite baking books out there. Also, when I’m making these for a large crowd, I double the recipe and put them in a half-sheet tray, which is 18″ by 13″.

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean [watch for these at Costco during the holidays, or buy at Amazon]
  • 2 10-oz bags marshmallows
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 9 cups crispy rice cereal (I actually use a little more than this, maybe 1/2 to 1 cup more)

Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray [I line it with aluminum foil and then spray the aluminum foil so I don’t have to wash the pan and I can lift them out easier].

Add the butter to a large saucepan set over low heat [I set it at medium-low]. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan with the butter. The butter will melt then begin to bubble and foam [it will sound like people applauding for a little while, and then it will stop. Once the noise has stopped, swirl the pan and watch carefully]. Eventually it will start to turn brown and smell nutty – be patient and watch carefully, it can go from brown to burned quickly.

Once the butter is browned, add all of the marshmallows and the salt. Stir the mixture constantly until the marshmallows are completely melted. Turn off the heat under the pan and add the cereal. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to coat the cereal evenly with the buttery, marshmallow liquid. Spread the mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting and serving. You can store the treats in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

Mini Mint Brownies

Mini Mint Brownies

These two-bite, in-between-cupcake-and-brownie, treats are just delightful. They should only be made in a mini-muffin pan (they aren’t right for baking full-size), and as such, are great for little get togethers or late-night or after-school snacking. [This is quickly becoming a hyphen-heavy post.] I took Alice Medrich’s advice (it is her recipe, after all) and added some mint ganache to the top, which makes these little bites even more of a treat. And, the green sprinkles seemed to dress them up even for St. Patrick’s Day. This recipe comes from Medrich’s Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy book, where she calls them “Lucy’s Chocolate Minis.”

Mini Mint Brownies

  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups (9.33 ounces) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Combine the flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk or fork.

Place the butter and chocolate in a medium to large heatproof bowl set directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate and butter are melted and quite warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the water bath. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well to blend each before adding the next. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until smooth and blended, not longer.

Spoon about 1 ½ tablespoons of the batter into each muffin cup — the batter will come almost to the top of each liner. Bake for 14-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Rotate the pans from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Cool the cakes on a rack.

Mint Ganache

  • ¼ cup lightly-packed, coarsely-chopped fresh mint leaves [This is unavailable for me right now, so I used peppermint oil instead, meaning I just put a few drops of oil in the cream when heating]
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces white chocolate (not chocolate chips), very finely chopped

Stir the chopped mint into the cream. Cover and refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours. Strain the cream into a small saucepan, pressing gently on the leaves to drain out as much cream as you can. Discard the mint leaves. Heat the cream to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the chocolate into a clean bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cool; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

To use, remove the ganache from the refrigerator and check its consistency. If it is smooth and creamy, it can be used right away. If the ganache is too fluid or soft to spread without dripping, stir it vigorously with a rubber spatula for a few seconds (it will appear to soften; don’t worry) and return to the fridge for a few minutes, then check again.

Apple Cinnamon Bites

Cinnamon Apple Bites

A picked up a small baking book a couple of months ago that has become my favorite little book this year. The baker, Sarah Randell, has so many interesting, easy, and terrific recipes. I especially love that so many of her recipes include fruit or nuts: I’m also not baking much without one of those two things lately! The book is entitled Family Baking, and I will be posting many more of its delightful ideas. This recipe is terrific, but the original gets the name wrong, I think, so I’ve changed it (my kids all entered their ideas, we all selected Peter’s. Hazel was happy with Peter’s title, but wanted to make sure I added “Yummy” to the title. So, definitely know it’s yummy). I also have changed this recipe from the original in that I pureed the fruit mixture–I knew I would have more eaters that way.

Apple Cinnamon Bites

1 1/2 c. soft, pitted dates, chopped
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
zest of 1 orange or lemon
freshly squeezed juice of 2 oranges
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom or cloves  
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
sticky oat layer:
2/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. self-rising flour*
3 T unsalted butter, softened
3 T corn syrup
1 large egg yolk
*replace self-rising flour with 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt
Place the chopped dates, apples, zest, juice and spices in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once everything has come to a simmering point, reduce the heat to low and gently cook the fruit for 8-10 minutes, covered, until the apple has softened. Leave to cool. If needed, mash the fruit with a potato masher until only a few small chunks are left or puree in a food processor.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
To make the sticky oat layer, put all the ingredients in  an electric mixer and beat to combine. Spread half of this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to make an even layer. Spoon the cooled date mixture on top of the oat base and top with the remaining oat mixture (I did this in drops, but you could also precariously spread the oat mixture more evenly).
Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is evenly brown. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Yield: 16 smallish bars/bites.

Browned Butter Peach Bars

Peach Brown Bar 2
I came across this bar cookie in a book titled, Home Baked Comfort, but it actually comes from Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen). It’s rich and delicious, and I love baking fruit into desserts, so this recipe is one more great way to bake peaches. These bars keep really well in the fridge for a couple days (they are a little too rich to splurge on in one day) and are the perfect afternoon snack or grown-up treat. Mmm. Can’t wait for the peaches to finish ripening on our tree.

Browned Butter Peach Bars

1 c. (7 ounces or 200 grams) white sugar
1 t.  baking powder
2 3/4 c. plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1 c. cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)

Brown your butter: Melt butter in a small/medium saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns and the very second that you turn around to do something else. Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30 minutes).

[So, I actually did this step, although you don’t need to if you don’t have time, and I’m usually not up to the fussiness, but this day I was, and it did make a difference! I would recommend it.]

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter a 9×13 inch pan, or spray it with a nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Use a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips, blend the solidified brown butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile peach slices over crumb base in a single layer. Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over peaches and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.

Easy Energy Bar

Date Granola BarI’m loving all the energy bars I’m trying. Well, honestly, there are a lot of awful ones, but this one is simple and delicious, though admittedly not as kid-friendly (which just means my kids don’t devour them all in one afternoon. Maybe this is a good thing). I’ve found that these keep for a week, and are great for little snacks or even little meals, if needed. I’m trying to make something healthy and yummy like this every Monday, so that I have a supply when we’re on the run. So here’s something to consider for this week! I’ve changed this recipe from a recipe that’s on the blog citronlimette.

Seed & Nut Energy Bars

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. almonds
  • 1 c. pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
  • 6 dates
  • ½ t. sea salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 T. unsweetened finely shredded coconut (like Bob’s Red Mill) or coconut flour
  • ½ c. agave
  • ½ c. cocoa nibs (don’t substitute chocolate chips. Just leave out if you don’t have)
  • 1 c. currants or chopped cherries
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Pulse walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the dates and pulse the mixture few times, leaving some texture.Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl; add the other ingredients, and mix until combined. Spread mixture into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Cut into squares and serve. Bars will keep in an airtight container, in the fridge, for a week.

Best Granola Bars I’ve Ever Had/Made

Puffed Rice Bars

Well, I’m sure almost anyone who has googled “energy bar recipe” like I did has seen this bar, since it comes from the first hit, but it’s time for me to publish how much I like them! After making them the first time, I went to the store the next morning to buy all the ingredients to make them again, in case my kids finished them off after school. They are so good, I’m a little embarrassed I’ve ever purchased a granola bar. And though I’m sure I’ll buy granola bars again, I will always wish I had taken time to make these instead. Soooo good. So Good. This recipe comes from beardandbonnet.com, but I’ve altered it a bit for our taste.

Sweet Pine Nut and Puffed Rice Bars

  • 1 c. pecans, chopped
  • 1 c. oats
  • ⅓ c. pine nuts
  • ¼ c. flax seeds
  • ⅔ c. light brown sugar
  • ½ c. honey
  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ t. salt
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 4 c. puffed brown rice cereal (also could mix in puffed Kamut or Millet)
  • 1/4 c. water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the pecans, oats, pine nuts, and flax seeds on the sheet and bake about 8 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the sugar, honey, butter, water, and salt to a boil over medium heat, making sure that the sugar dissolves before the mixture boils. Simmer until a light brown caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the caramel over the nut and oat mixture. Stir in the brown rice cereal until evenly coated.
  4. Line an 11×17 inch baking pan with parchment paper, extend the paper over the sides of the pan to use as a handle later. Pour the cereal mixture into the baking dish and spread out into an even layer. Cover the pan with a second piece of parchment and press down to compress the bars. Let the mixture stand for about 2 hours until firm.
  5. Discard the top piece of parchment and use the “handles” from the second piece of parchment to gently remove the cereal square from the pan then cut into bars and serve.

GIngerbread Castle

gingerbread castle with henry
When my oldest son had to make a castle for school, he had the brilliant idea of making it out of gingerbread. So, we now have proof that he did get some of my genes! Luckily, someone had pioneered this adventure before, and I found a lovely blogger who really mapped out the whole project for us. And, I found an amazing gingerbread recipe. It reminds me of a gingery graham cracker, and it is chewy and almost tastes like honey. So good.

This whole castle, after taken to school and graded, went down in a matter of minutes by a crowd of six-graders and siblings. It was delightful to watch, and incredibly messy to clean up! This recipe comes from alipyper.blogspot, who also gives a template for the castle, if you have need! But we will make this again soon, just for snacking.

Gingerbread House Recipe
Makes one large gingerbread house or one sheet of gingerbread for snacking!

3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 c. dark molasses
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 T. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Cream butter and sugar. Add slightly beaten egg and dark molasses. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Cookie dough should pull away from the edges of the bowl, but should not be too dry (If you are rolling out the dough for cut out gingerbread cookies, add a bit more flour so that the dough is stiffer). Turn out dough onto an ungreased 18″ x 13″ x 1″ cookie sheet [I parchment for precaution] and flatten dough, completely covering the bottom of the pan. Smooth it, then lay out gingerbread house pieces and score the pattern with a sharp paring knife.

Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Gingerbread is done when the top is golden brown. As soon as you remove the cookie sheet from the oven score the pattern pieces again. Allow cookie sheet to cool 15 minutes. Carefully remove the excess gingerbread pieces, then using a metal spatula carefully remove the gingerbread house pieces to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Oatmeal Raisin Bars

Oatmeal Raisin SquaresNeed a fast treat that’s sturdy and can be done in less than an hour? I have needed this special something several times in the last few weeks of summer, so this recipe has been a lifesaver. It gets to the oven quite quickly, bakes, and then is easy to take to the lake, camping, for a picnic, or just to have around the house as friends are stopping in. I also love that it’s mostly whole grain and since I don’t think butter is all that bad for people (in moderation, of course), I think this is really a great treat. Hope someone else loves it too! This recipe came from an old Everyday Food magazine.

Oatmeal Raisin Bars

  • 3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 c. packed light-brown sugar (I’ve also substituted for 1/2 c. honey, and it works fine, too)
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon [I use 1 t., ’cause we love cinnamon]
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper. [I just line the baking pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.]

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, egg, salt, and cinnamon until smooth. Add flour, oats, and raisins; fold in just until combined.

Spread batter in prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift bars onto a work surface; cut into 16 bars.

Retro Peanut Butter Fingers

These have the French Buttercream. Delicious!

These have the French Buttercream. Delicious!

This is the recipe from elementary school cafeterias in the ’80s (and perhaps before and since!). Luckily, my aunt gave this to me, and I am so glad, because as a kid, I always had school lunch on the days these were served. So, if you have the same lovely memories, you’ll love this one. Incidentally, it’s great for a crowd, since it takes just a little effort, but makes somewhere between 36-48 bars, depending on how small you cut them. Perfect for picnics and after-school gatherings!

Retro Peanut Butter Fingers

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 c., but I don’t think they need to be that sweet)
3/4 c. sugar (again, I’ve cut down from the original 1 c.)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
3 c. flour
3 c. rolled oats
18 oz. creamy peanut butter
Chocolate Frosting (of your choice; I’ve used a simple ganache, chocolate French Buttercream and chocolate American Buttercream. I usually pick the type of frosting according   to where and how I will serve them, and how sturdy I want the frosting to be)

1.Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a 18 x 26 x 1″ pan with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, oats, salt and soda together. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugars together for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, for about thirty seconds each. Add vanilla and beat briefly until combined. Add 9 oz. of the peanut butter, and beat another 1-2 minutes, or until combined.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer, and mix on low speed until combined. Spread the batter (it will be thick) onto the parchment-lined pan.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes (it will look a little dry), then remove to a wire rack.

6. Once the fingers have cooled, spread with the remaining peanut butter and then frost with your choice of chocolate frosting. Enjoy!

 

Amy’s Granola Bars

Another great recipe from my friend Amy. I love how quickly these bars come together, and they work perfectly for after-school snacks or lunch sacks or camping (they were all three last week for us!).

Amy’s Granola Bars

 2 1/2 c. rolled or quick oats
1  c. dry roasted peanuts, salted (if using unsalted peanuts, add a bit of salt to the recipe)
1 c. raisins (I substitute sweetened flaked coconut)
1 c. sunflower seeds (I have done this–tastes great–and also sliced almonds–also great)
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat an oven to 325. Line a 15×10 baking sheet (jelly roll pan) with foil and spray (or use a silpat).
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl (oats, peanuts, raisins, seeds, cinnamon, milk, butter). Spread evenly onto the prepared pan and bake for about 45 min., until the edges are a golden brown and look crispy. Remove the baking sheet onto a rack. If you want them cut into bars, use a butter knife to score the bars right out of the oven. Otherwise, wait until they cool, and break into pieces. Enjoy!