Alaska News

Kim Sunée: Rice Krispies treats, all grown up with brown butter and sea salt

Many of us have childhood memories of someone in the kitchen preparing something we couldn't make ourselves but anticipated with much delight. Enter my friend Christa Schumacher and her beloved Rice Krispies treats. I personally don't care for the two main ingredients in this snack, a throwback to the original 1938 creation. But Christa, a full-time scientist and part-time passionate baker, updated her childhood favorite with browned butter, which offers a nutty depth, and good sea salt to balance out the sweetness; together they make a winning combination and one she bets I can't stay away from. Admittedly, the result is light and airy, crispy and salty. And, unfortunately, quite addictive.

To up the ante even more, Christa recently texted me saying that she cooked down apple cider with butter and cream before pouring the mixture on top of the Rice Krispies. She incorporated the caramel recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker website. Instead of pouring the caramel into a prepared pan to set up for candy, Christa pours the caramel directly on top of the Rice Krispies and lets it set up in the refrigerator, but once cooled, they can be stored at room temperature, if they even last that long.

Here is a simple recipe featuring the browned butter and sea salt version, but I know many fervent Rice Krispies treats lovers who add everything from vanilla and smoked salt to butterscotch and toffee. I've only made these a handful of times but I like the addition of a dark chocolate drizzle with a hint more of sea salt for garnish. The brown butter is worth making. The main thing is to keep an eye on the butter as it quickly can go from browned to burned. Once you've got the hang of making brown butter, try it with Alaska king crab, to top fresh hot popcorn or to drizzle over your favorite vegetables. As for the salt, it's best to enlist a high-quality finishing salt such as French gray salt or Maldon flake salt.

Brown butter and sea salt Rice Krispies treats

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan

10 ounces miniature marshmallows

1/4 teaspoon high-quality sea salt, such as French gray salt, plus more for garnish

5 cups Rice Krispies


For the chocolate drizzle:

10 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate

3 tablespoons heavy cream

Pinch of salt

1. Grease a 6-cup-capacity pan (or a mini muffin tin) with butter; set aside.

2. Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, about 3 to 4 minutes until butter turns brown and fragrant. Watch butter carefully as it can go from browned to burned quickly. Reduce heat to low and stir in salt and marshmallows, stirring constantly, until marshmallows are smooth and melted. Remove pan from heat and quickly stir in Rice Krispies until blended; transfer mixture and spread evenly in prepared pan. Let cool, cut into squares and sprinkle, if desired, with a bit more salt.

3. Or top with chocolate drizzle: Melt chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan over low heat (or in a double boiler/bain marie or in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring at 30-second intervals until melted and well combined). Pour a thin layer (or drizzle in a zigzag pattern) of the melted chocolate mixture over the Rice Krispies treats. Sprinkle, if desired, with a bit more salt. Let cool until chocolate is set before cutting into squares for serving. You can also cover with plastic or wax paper and chill overnight. Store, in an airtight container, at (cool) room temperature.

Kim Sunée

Kim Sunée is a bestselling author ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home," "A Mouthful of Stars," "Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks") and a former magazine food editor. She's based in Anchorage. For more food and travel, visit