Just like that, November won me over. When I was a kid in North Pole, Alaska I’d see the sun, enormous, looking like the yolk of a fried egg slip above the horizon at some point in my school morning. By the time school was out, it had disappeared. I used to look out the window as I was reading Beowulf or learning about improper fractions, see that sun, and feel quietly glad to be alive in that winter moment. Yesterday the slant at which the sun traversed the sky carried the same still beauty, and I finally felt ready for the rest of this month, this year.
I don’t know yet what I’ll make next week for Thanksgiving. We'll have a few of the usuals: turkey, cranberry chutney and sweet potato biscuits. I’m pretty sure I’ll also make roasted sweet potatoes with fresh figs, and maybe a pecan pie. One thing I do know for certain is that over the weekend, I’ll be making salted brown butter rice crispy treats – a double batch – as it’s our turn to bring a snack for Cal’s hockey team. I want to share the recipe with you, because I think you ought to make them, too.
Early last Sunday morning, when the light still had a blue cast to it, I sat in my car and read a new cookbook as I waited for Abbott’s hockey game to start. The building that houses the rink he played at used to, literally, be a meat locker. It's the coldest building I've ever been inside, so I didn’t go in until I absolutely had to. Many of the recipes I looked through merited a bookmark; in particular, the one for salted brown butter rice crispy treats. What a combination! I made a pan of them earlier this week, and they were gone almost immediately. The toasted butter and the salt change everything; the two, together, elevate rice crispy treats from good to daydream-worthy.
Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Slightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
I substituted puffed brown rice for regular puffed rice, as I always do when I make rice crispy treats. The puffed brown rice adds a nut-like dimension to the flavor.
8 tablespoons (115 grams or 1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
heaping ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
One 10-ounce (285 gram) bag large or miniature marshmallows
6 cups (170 grams) puffed brown rice cereal – I love Erewhon. Can also use regular rice crispies/puffed rice cereal.
Measure out all your ingredients before you get started, as you'll need to move quickly once you've heated the butter.
Butter (or coat with nonstick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2 inch sides.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently. Don’t take your eyes off the pot: the period between when the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.
As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off, sprinkle the salt over the butter, and then stir in the marshmallows. The heat from the butter should melt them, but if it doesn’t, place the pot over low heat, stirring constantly, until the marshmallows are smooth. Be careful not to cook the marshmallows. You want just enough heat for them to melt.
Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the cereal, folding it gently with the marshmallow mixture until the cereal is evenly coated. Quickly spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Use a piece of waxed or parchment paper sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners of the pan, and smooth the top.
Let cool, then cut into squares.
Yield: sixteen 2-inch squares or thirty-two 1-by-2-inch bars