We have no microwave in our home, and we haven’t since we moved here a year and a half ago. As apartment dwellers, we’ve spent the past five-plus years relying on the appliances our rentals provide, and when we moved here, there was no microwave. Gallant folks that we are, we decided to trudge on without one.
Funnily enough, the people our no-microwave situation seemed to affect the most were our respective moms. Both offered their condolences at our lack of a microwave, both offered suggestions as to where in our tiny apartment we might house one, and both even offered to buy us one should we decide the void was too great. They were sweet to offer, and zapping leftovers is a convenience I do miss on occasion, but the truth is, we made adjustments and are getting on just fine without one (though I will admit that I have yet to find a reasonable means of reheating my mom’s coffee when she visits, after she tops it off with a healthy glug of milk. Hmm…).
This no-microwave backstory is important to this post because it is precisely how my mom came to accidently invent something awesome. While she was staying at our house for a few weeks after Beany was born, she volunteered to make a batch of Rice Krispies treats (a family tradition that we can eat by the tray-full — seriously). She ran out to Target, bought all of the ingredients and was in the kitchen ready to whip them up before my post-pregnancy brain remembered we had no microwave in which to make them. No bother, she said. She’d make them on the stove.
Long story short, we got to chatting, the butter got to bubbling, and it wasn’t until we heard it sputtering from the stovetop that we realized what was going on. After considering starting over, my mom decided to take her chances and finish the batch anyway. And it was from that near disaster that our first batch of brown butter Rice Krispies treats was born. When I’m 100, I’ll still think of it as one of my mom’s greatest culinary achievements. She made them for us at least two more times that visit.
For a good 15 months I’ve been crediting my mom as the inventor of brown butter Rice Krispies treats and the greatest accidental dish of all time, but just this weekend, while flipping through The Essential New York Times Cookbook, I found a nearly identical recipe. Craziness! I suppose what this really means is that my mom was inadvertently rolling with the culinary big dogs. Top Chef, watch out.
The recipe shown here is a hybrid of the NYT version and my mom’s. Although they aren’t the typical gooey treats you might remember from school, they make up for it with a rich, caramel-like flavor. They’re super chewy but pretty crunchy as well. I suggest cutting them into small bite-size squares for easy snacking.
Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook (Amanda Hesser, p. 708)
• 1 cup salted butter, plus more for buttering pan
• 1 16-ounce bag of marshmallows
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 12 ounces Rice Krispies cereal
Butter an 11-by-17-inch baking dish or rimmed baking sheet, and set it aside. Melt 1 cup of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once it melts, it will start to foam. Stir occasionally as the butter turns to a clear golden color. It will then start to turn brown and smell nutty. Watch closely, and continue to stir often.
Once the butter is evenly browned, stir in the marshmallows and vanilla. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture turns pale brown. Then stir constantly until it is lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat, add the cereal and mix until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, and press down lightly. Let the mixture cool, and then cut it into small squares.
Have you had any wonderful kitchen disasters lately? Botched recipes turned awesome? And is anyone else out there trucking on without a microwave? Do tell!