Happy Halloween, y'all! While I love this spooky holiday as much as the next girl, I'm not really into all of the creepy crawly treats that seem to pop up this time of year. Eyeball cupcakes? Not so much. Blood punch? I don't think so.
This year I wanted to make a celebratory snack that was festive but not freaky. Rice crispy treats are always a crowd-pleaser, but what about pumpkin rice crispy treats? Done and done. Five batches later, what started out as a quick-and-easy Halloween recipe turned into a full-on science experiment.
My initial idea was to use fresh pumpkin puree and homemade marshmallows, but that would defeat the idea of both quick and easy. I didn't want to settle for the uninspired route of using pumpkin-flavored marshmallows (which taste similar to aluminum in my humble opinion), so canned pumpkin won out. Unfortunately I underestimated the water content of pumpkin in my first few attempts; two batches of soggy treats found their home in the bottom of the trash can.
After a little investigating, I decided to reduce the pumpkin to remove some of the water content. I cooked one can of puree over the stove top and one can of puree low-and-slow in the oven. As brilliant as I thought my plan was, not only did it take a long time, but it still made for waterlogged treats. I almost gave up, but in the name of science (and sweets!) I gave it one last shot.
I'm pleased to report my final attempt was a success: I cut the amount of pumpkin to 1/4 cup and upped the spices to boost the "autumnal" flavor. The real key, though, is to let the pumpkin-marshmallow mixture cool to room temperature before adding the crispies. Trust me here. It's crucial to the recipe's success.
The verdict's in — I'd love to get these in my trick-or-treat basket today! (or any day for that matter!) Enjoy.
Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 (10 ounce) bag mini marshmallows plus one cup
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
6 cups crispy rice cereal
Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish (or a smaller dish — see Note below).
In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the pumpkin puree and continue to cook until it is warmed through. Fold in 10 ounces of the marshmallows, stirring frequently until almost completely melted. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt, and remove from heat.
Allow the marshmallow mixture to cool 10 minutes; fold in the remaining cup of marshmallows. Continue to cool the mixture for another 20 to 25 minutes until it is room temperature (failure to cool the mixture will result in soggy rice crispy treats.) Add the puffed rice cereal and stir, using a silicone spatula, until combined.
Press the mixture into the greased rectangular baking dish. Let set for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
• Note: I call for a 9x13-inch dish here, but I often use an 8x11-inch because I like taller treats. Any size in this range should do.
Related: Autumn Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies
(Images: Nealey Dozier)