(Confession time: this is not my photo, but it is a photo of the delectable treats as made by my friend and sorority sister Meg Hogan. Mine were all gone before I could get a picture!)
Since I was a child, I have had a deep and abiding love of marshmallow crispy treats. Do you remember the ad with the mom sitting in the kitchen, reading a romance novel as her family eagerly awaited their treats? She then provided them after sprinkling her face with flour and water to make it look as though she'd gone to gargantuan effort for this dessert. Needless to say, my school friends and I soon discovered that they were about the easiest thing to make and then made them all the time. It was then that I lost a desire to experiment with the recipe as I'd made them with too much marshmallow or too much butter or too much cereal, learning that there was a precious formula to be followed so that they would end up utterly perfect.
Fast forward to New Year's Eve of 2009. Thanks to one of my Facebook friends, I discovered the Smitten Kitchen blog and (most importantly) the recipe for browned butter crispy treats. After hearing that my friends mowed down on her stirring spoon like a bear gnawing on a leg, I knew I had to try them. They came with me to my New Year's party and went over amazingly well. I thought there should be no further tweaking of the crispy treat recipe after finding this delectable combination of salty and sweet, buttery and crispy.
Once again, fast forward, this time to this week in 2011. Meg posted the recipe for cake batter crispy treats from the How Sweet It Is blog, and once again, I was possessed to make them ASAP. Fortunately, Meg made them first and gave me her tips. I further tweaked it and now present you with the results. The ladies of my church raved, and I was thankful they ate most of them so I did not eat them until a) they were gone and b) I was sick to my stomach from all of the goodness.
Without further ado and with many thanks to Smitten Kitchen, How Sweet It Is, and Meg Hogan, I present to you salted brown butter-cake batter crispy treats. Make 'em for a gathering to share the love.
- 1 stick (6 tablespoons) butter (the SK recipe calls for unsalted, but I used to salted to add a bit more flavor, even though it really doesn't add that much)
- a pinch kosher salt
- 6 cups crisp rice cereal
- 1 10 ounce or 10.5 ounce bag mini-marshmallows (make sure they're fresh!)
- 1/3 cup cake mix (I went with Uncle Dunkie's yellow, largely because it was on sale)
Begin by greasing a baking dish (I just use cooking spray). I use a rectangular Pyrex dish to get lots of thinner treats, but you can use a square one for thicker treats.
Place the butter and salt into a pot large enough to hold your marshmallow mixture and the 6 cups of cereal (probably at least 4 quarts to ensure stirring room). Let the butter melt on low. Keep stirring it as it browns, keeping an eye and a nose on it to tell when it's done. It will get brown and lovely and smell nutty. Yum.
SK tells you to turn your heat off at this point, but I like to keep my flame on low as I add the marshmallows since it helps them combine smoothly. Stir until it all looks smooth, then add the cake mix a little at a time, stirring to combine. Turn off the heat.
Add your cereal, making sure it all gets well-coated. Add half of your sprinkles, if you'd like sprinkles in your treats. If you add them while everything is too hot, they'll melt, but this can add fun color to the treats.
Spread the mixture into your greased dish, pressing down with either a greased spatula or greased hand to make sure they're even. Put sprinkles on top.
Mow down on what's left in the cooking pan as the ones in the dish cool. (Don't deny it!!) Share recipe as you wish.