salted brown butter crispy treats

Next in our month of easy desserts are these salted brown butter crispy treats by food genius Deb Perelman. When a coworker made them for me, I lost my mind over the extra-salty flavor, and they’re now the one dessert I’ll make regularly in my shoebox NYC kitchen. Here’s how to whip some up…

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
From Deb Perelman in Food52 Genius Desserts

Here’s the truth: the classic recipe that’s been printed on the Rice Krispies box since 1940 is already a genius dessert. It’s ready in 10 minutes without heating the oven, using three ingredients you can find anywhere: cereal, marshmallows, butter. In fact, it’s so ubiquitous that we tend to thumb past it in our mental recipe files in favor of newer, flashier prospects. But here’s another truth: most people will walk past all sorts of fancy cookies and tarts to get to the stack of crispy treats before the rest of us make off with them.

This modernized riff is very much like the original — the same siren crunch surrounded by sweet, soft goo –and uses virtually the same technique. The only differences are that you sizzle the butter a bit longer, until the milk solids have turned toasty and brown, and add salt to balance the sweet. (Oh, and what was 3 tablespoons became a full stick of butter — more to brown!) You might be tempted to brown the marshmallow, too, but don’t: it will only turn the bars dry and stiff, and I know you’re in it for the goo. 

Recipe: Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Makes 16 treats

You’ll need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 10 oz. bag marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal 
Heaping 1⁄4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Generously butter an 8 by 8 by 2-inch cake pan. (If you want to make it extra easy to pop out the treats, line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two opposite sides for easier lifting when the bars are done.) Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula, until it browns. The butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden with brown bits and start to smell nutty. Be patient and don’t wander away — the bits will go from brown to black quickly, and you don’t want black.

Turn off the heat as soon as the bits in the butter are a deep nut brown color. Immediately add the marshmallows and stir until smooth. The residual heat from the pot should be enough to fully melt the marshmallows, but if not, return the heat to low and cook until the marshmallows are completely smooth. Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the cereal and salt. Stir well to make a big sticky mass, then quickly scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Flatten the gooey mix evenly with a spatula or buttered waxed or parchment paper, pressing into the edges and corners.

Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, and cut into squares to serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thank you so much, Deb and Food52! Your cookbook is beautiful.

P.S. More recipes, including cream cheese chocolate chip cookies and the #1 thing to keep in your freezer.

(Reprinted with permission from Food52 Genius Desserts by Kristen Miglore, copyright © 2018. Recipe by Deb Perelman. Photography by James Ransom © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Thanks to Franny Eremin for helping with this series.)