Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brown-butter Rice Krispies treats

Brown-butter Rice Krispies treats

You want a crowd-pleaser? THIS is a crowd-pleaser. And it's so easy!

Alright, I know, I hear you saying "sheesh, they're just Rice Krispies treats, no big deal, any moron could make them." But these are different. They don't LOOK different, but that's the thing -- one teeny, tiny change is all you need to go from "hm, Rice Krispies treats" to "zomgwherehaveyouBEENallmylife!"

The secret? Brown the butter. Not burn, mind you, just brown, until it smells a little bit nutty. What you get are Rice Krispies treats with a super-delicious, caramel-y, vanilla-y flavor. And there's salt in them, which heightens the flavor that much more. They're amazing. And they only take, what, maybe two minutes longer than the original version? And that's good, 'cause you'll have to make more once you start sharing them with people. They disappear fast.

Brown-Butter Rice Krispies Treats
From Smitten Kitchen

1/4 c butter
4 c mini marshmallows
1/4 tsp sea salt
6 c Rice Krispies

1. Butter a pan, almost any pan, since you're not baking these -- an 8-by-8, or a 9-by-9, or a 9-by-13, maybe even a loaf pan or two if that's your thing.
2. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-low heat, then, keep cooking it, stir from time to time and watch carefully. It will foam up a bit, then turn clear, then start to go just a little brown and smell a bit nutty. As soon as it does this, take the pan off the heat, 'cause the line between browned and burned isn't very wide.
3. Stir in the marshmallows until they're melted.
4. Stir in the cereal and the salt. Dump it all out into your greased pan and press down into the corners so it's even (you may want to try a piece of greased parchment or waxed paper for this, so you don't get too sticky).
5. Let cool, cut and wait for the raves to begin. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter cookies

Sometimes, you need cookies in a hurry, without having to run to the store, and you need to make something that will please a crowd.

And sometimes, you need cookies 'cause they'll make even the worst day a teeny bit better.

Those two needs came together after Hurricane Irene, while town employees were laboring around the clock to keep everyone safe and answer everyone's questions, and then on top of that, a nearby dam threatened to break, and they issued an evacuation order and opened an emergency shelter for anyone living near said dam.

Thankfully, the storm didn't affect us directly. Our power stayed on, and we don't live near a stream, so we didn't get flooding except for an innundated road on the afternoon of the storm. But it affected a lot of other people, and in times like that, I couldn't do much, but I can bake, and so bake I did. I made these cookies and took them over to Town Hall to give to the overworked people there, and they were hugely grateful. It's always nice to be able to do a good deed. :)

Peanut Butter Cookies
From The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

1 1/4 c flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c peanut butter (the recipe calls for chunky, but I only had creamy and they still came out good)
3/4 c sugar plus a bit more for sprinkling
1/2 c light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 c peanut butter chips (optional -- I didn't have these, either)

1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
2. In another bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter together. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg, then the milk and vanilla, then the flour mixture. Stir in the peanut butter chips, if using.
3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets, leaving several inches between them. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisscross pattern. Lightly sprinkle with sugar.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on pan for 1 minute, then remove to a rack.