This week of light summer cooking on The Kitchn came at an appropriate time in our household. I've been baking non-stop for a few writing projects and testing recipes to make for our family's July 4th get-together. So I was overjoyed to have the chance to play around with a simple, delicious, no-bake summer (or anytime) dessert. Chances are, you've probably made Rice Krispie Squares before. They don't take much skill or time, you don't have to pre-heat the oven, and they're generally a crowd-pleaser with kids and adults alike. For a friend's baby shower a month ago, we were all supposed to bring a dish that reminded us of childhood, and I whipped these up. They are my take on a classic Rice Krispie Square but they have a little added salt, lots of peanut butter, and malted milk powder to enhance the toasty flavor.
Too often folks shy away from using salt in desserts when really it just enhances so many of the flavors already there. Such is the case with these. The peanut butter flavor shines and the malted milk powder melts into the marshmallow mixture beautifully and imparts a special nuttinness. While these are simple to make, there are a few things to be aware of.
First, choose a bigger saucepan than you think you need. You'll be adding all 5 1/2 cups of crisped rice cereal into your saucepan and it takes up a surprising amount of space, so plan accordingly. Also, once your marshmallow mixture is hot, the process moves quickly or you run the risk of it hardening too fast before it gets in the pan. So have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go. Next, roll up your sleeves and prepare to get just a little messy. I inevitably end up with buttery palms as I press the mixture into the pan. Last, while many baking recipes ask you not to use a natural peanut butter, it's actually okay in this recipe, so use whatever you have on hand. And the peanuts on the top only work if you get them pressed into the top of the squares right away. Otherwise, feel free to fold them into the mixture itself.
I hope you're enjoying this week of light cooking on The Kitchn so far. With these at the ready in the afternoons, I sure am.
Malted Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Squares
Makes 12 to 16 servings
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 package (10 ounces) mini marshmallows
1/4 cup malted milk powder (like Carnation)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup peanut butter
5 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
1/4 cup peanuts
Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once melted, add all the marshmallows and stir continuously until they've melted into the butter, 3 minutes or so.
Add the salt and malted milk powder, and stir quickly to combine and avoid clumps. Scoop the peanut butter into the mixture and stir to combine.
Remove from heat and add in the puffed rice cereal. With a wooden spoon (or with your hands only if you can avoid contact with the hot pan) quickly mix the cereal into the marshmallow mixture.
Dump mixture into the baking pan. Sprinkle peanuts on top. Press squares down with buttered hands to create an even layer and to push the peanuts into the top layer. Allow to cool.
Related: Playing Around: 5 New Takes on Classic Rice Krispy Treats
(Images: Megan Gordon)