Brown butter-crispy rice treats

January 23, 2012 § 7 Comments

Despite having received plenty of new cookbooks for the holidays, I’ve settled on this week sharing yet another recipe from my most frequently-referred-to baking book, Flour. I adore this book so much I rarely manage to get it back onto the bookshelf, but instead leave it plopped open on the couch or on the kitchen counter. This past week, after repeatedly flipping back to it, I cooked my latest, greatest obsession from Flour, brown butter-crispy rice treats.

However, these crispy rice treats aren’t quite the dessert you remember from childhood (or in my case, from the sugar-bomb cereal I begged my mom to buy), as it’s amped-up by savory brown butter that tames the sweet marshmallows. Buoying the more assertive brown butter, freshly-seeded vanilla bean adds an elegant touch, creating a delicately freckled pale blonde crunchy confection.

Making them is — so far as I can imagine, never having made them as a child — even more fun as an adult, because not only do you get to melt butter and seed a vanilla pod (sharp knives and melting butter = not kid safe!), you still get the tactile joy of messing with melting marshmallow goo: sculpting abstract forms in the melted butter, stretching it until it forms thin sugary spiderwebs, and then the best part, nibbling on the bits of marshmallow that cling to the side of the bowl and the wooden spoon.

The adult in me is muttering something about that ancient grains book or the heirloom apple book I got, and how really I should be cooking something nutritious from one of them, but the little kid in me? Too high on sugar to care!

Brown butter-crispy rice treats

Adapted from Flour

Please don’t feel intimidated by the exhaustive instructions; I am personally very leery of wasting expensive butter and thus go into exquisite detail to ensure that your butter doesn’t go from beautifully brown to badly burnt, a transition that occurs even faster, I’ve found, than when toasting nuts.

Makes twenty treats


  • One cup (two sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • Two ten-ounce (280 grams) bags marshmallows
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Nine cups (240 grams) crispy puffed rice cereal

1. In a heavy saucepan (I used a cast-iron skillet because it’s the heaviest pan I own, due to aforementioned fears about ingredient ruination), melt the butter over medium-low heat; it should take about one minute in a saucepan or up to two minutes in a heavy-bottom cast-iron skillet.

2. Meanwhile, split the vanilla bean in half, scrape out the seeds of one half, and place the seeds into the melting butter. Place the cereal into a large, heatproof bowl, preferably the largest bowl you own, and set aside. Open the marshmallow bags so that once the butter browns, the marshmallows can immediately be added to the skillet, and there will be no need to fiddle with packaging. Butter a nine by thirteen baking dish (alternatively, spray with cooking spray, or line the pan with parchment paper).

(Per the recipe author’s advice, I stuck the scraped half of the vanilla bean inside a small jar filled with sugar, and hopefully soon will have vanilla sugar to spoon over oatmeal in the morning…or early afternoon, as the case may be).

3. Carefully monitor the butter to ensure it doesn’t burn once it is all melted, keeping the heat at medium-low; once it browns (it took about ten minutes on medium-low heat in my heavy cast iron skillet, but will take about five minutes or even less over low heat using a thinner saucepan), immediately place in the marshmallows and begin stirring with a wooden spoon, both to use the heat of the butter to melt the marshmallows and to prevent the butter from burning on the bottom of the skillet. Be sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet/saucepan. Sprinkle in the sea salt and continue stirring until the marshmallows are thoroughly melted and look gooey (in a good way!).

4. Once the butter-marshmallow mixture is mixed, pour it into the large bowl of cereal. Immediately begin folding through the mixture vigorously to ensure that all the cereal pieces become coated in the marshmallow goo, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl where bits of cereal like to hide.

5. Transfer the cereal-marshmallow glop into the prepared baking pan and spread it out as evenly as possible. Let cool for as long as it takes for the pan to reach room temperature, about ten minutes in a cold house but perhaps longer in warmer seasons.

6. Cut and serve, or for the more creative-minded amongst us, cut with greased cookie cutters into fun shapes, such as hearts or stars. Enjoy!

Note: wrap treats individually and store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Cleanup note: soak anything covered in marshmallow-cereal mess (that you haven’t managed to nibble off despite your best efforts) in hot water for about five minutes; washing up should be easy afterward.


Chang, Joanne, with Christie Matheson. “Brown butter-crispy rice treats.” Flour. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010 (133).


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