I still remember the scene. It was the evening, because my father was home and cooking for the market. There was a giant pot of chickpeas on the back eye, simmering from dry, crunchy pellets to creamy goodness that would turn into hummus the next day. Chickpeas are easy, yet temperamental to cook. For the best flavor, simmer; don’t let them boil or they will foam and spew like a rabid dog. My mischievous baby brother, young enough to sit on my father’s shoulders, wanted to see what was happening up there, on the stove he couldn’t yet see. My dad picked him up, put him on his shoulders, and let him carefully peer at the steaming pots on the stove. [If it was a normal night, two or three things were cooking, at the least.]
My brother wanted to stir the chickpeas. Oh, of course he did. But in the midst of the magical father-son moment, the chickpeas went a little crazy. The molten foam splattered, my brother’s arm being the first spot of attack. It was a bad burn, and my brother was no longer curious and happy. [This is my now chef brother. Whose arms are now covered in burns and cuts after a few years in the business. Who would've guessed?]
This is one of the first scenes in the kitchen that I remember. I wasn’t the one curiously trying to watch my father’s bubbling cauldrons. But I remember it well. My mother, already a concerned parent, tended towards the extremes in keeping us safe, and the chickpea incident heightened her safety alert. So while my friends might have memories of helping chop onions, or stir pots, my mother kept us away from the knife block and stove eyes for the most part.
But one of the dishes I do vividly remember playing assistant on were Rice Krispies Treats. Since the kids were usually the ones begging for dessert, those were the times my mother would recruit a helper. I would measure the everything out. In our largest pot, I would add the butter and marshmallows. Mom would turn the stove on low, and I would get to stir occasionally. Once the butter and marshmallows were just melted enough, Mom would move the pot to a cool eye, and I could add the cereal. Stir, stir, stir and then, get messy! Pour the cereal mixture into a pan and squish down. Now go wash your hands and let them cool for a few minutes, my mother would shoo me out of the kitchen.
It required two dishes, three ingredients, no oven to turn on and very little cooling time for kids to nag her about, so Rice Krispies treats were one of my mother’s favorite desserts to make. And they’re absolutely one of my favorite desserts to eat. The simple, gooey, glorious delight is hard to beat. But ever since I sunk my teeth into salted brown butter crispy treats over a year ago [made by Autumn for a BK Swappers event], I’ve yearned to update the treat. What follows definitely takes more than two bowls, but I consider it a heavenly marriage of nostalgia and adulthood.
I was presented with an opportunity to develop a recipe featuring The Bruery’s Autumn Maple beer and my sweet tooth took over. When I received the two bottles of this seasonal brew, I chilled them and then took a taste. The spices were present, but thankfully the beer does not taste like pumpkin pie spice (ahem, like many autumnal beers). This California craft brewery has a keeper of a beer – it is bold and rich, but not heavy like Guinness. In-your-face dark beers sometimes overwhelm me, but there is a smooth sweetness to Autumn Maple that makes it incredibly drinkable. The spicy base had my brain spinning with dessert ideas. I wanted to stretch the beer flavor into many components, highlighting the beer in different forms but also building the layers of beer flavors across one bite. That bite would be The Bruery beer crispy treat.
Beer marshmallows. Browned butter. Rice Krispies. Salt. Beer caramel. Dark chocolate.
Yes, I’m obsessed with making marshmallows, I will admit it to the world. They’re just so simple, but the flavors of the beer play very nicely here. The beer caramel sauce, inspired by bourbon caramel, has similar dark, spicy flavors. There is a malty, “beery-ness” to both components, but their sweetness helps balance it out. The nutty browned butter, crunchy puffed rice, and hearty dose of salt rounds out the dessert, and the dark chocolate is purely gilding the lily on my part.
Disclaimer: I received two bottles of Autumn Maple beer from the Bruery in order to develop this recipe. I was not provided any compensation and my opinions of the product are my own.
Beer Crispy Treats
Each part of the final dessert can stand alone, and that is why I love this recipe. The beer marshmallows and caramel are both delicious by themselves, and the salted brown butter crispy treats are not to be missed.
For the Salted Beer Caramel Sauce
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup The Bruery Autumn Maple beer
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup on medium heat. Bring to a low boil. Gently swirl the mixture in (do not stir), and allow it to boil until it is a deep amber color, 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream and the butter. Return to low heat and stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in salt and beer. Return to a low boil for five minutes. Remove from heat and cool before using.
For the Beer Marshmallows
- 2 envelopes (4 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup cold, flat The Bruery Autumn Maple beer, divided
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- In bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over ¼ cup beer, and let stand to soften.
- In a large, heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/4 cup of cold beer, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. The beer will cause the mixture to foam, but resist stirring unless absolutely necessary. (I stirred about 3 times during the cooking, to help reduce foam.)
- Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved. With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until pale tan, thick and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. Keep the fluff in your large bowl for crispy treat making,
- If making beer marshmallows, transfer to a greased 9” square pan. Let set up for 2-3 hours, cut and dust with powdered sugar.
For the Beer Crispy Treats
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 8 cups Rice Krispies cereal (or any puffed rice cereal)
- 1 batch beer marshmallow fluff
- Grease a 9 x 13” pan with cooking spray or butter.
- In a large, pale-bottomed pot, melt butter over medium heat. You want to brown the butter, for a nutty, rich flavor. The butter will foam, then turn clear gold, then finally begin to brown. Stir often, scraping up the browned bits and keeping your eyes on the pan. Once the butter starts to brown, remove from the heat. The butter has a tendency to burn quickly.
- Pour the butter into the bowl of beer marshmallow fluff and stir to combine. At first, the butter and marshmallow doesn’t seem to want to combine. But the marshmallows will melt a little, and after a few stirs the mixture will finally come together. Add the cereal and stir quickly to combine.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and spread gently with a spatula. To press into place, I recommend using a square of parchment paper that has been greased. Use it greased side down to smooth and press the cereal into the pan.
- Let cool for 30 minutes, to come to room temperature and harden. Using a serrated knife, cut into small squares.
To assemble the Beer Crispy Treats:
- 10 ounces dark chocolate [bark, chips, or bar]
- If needed, chop your chocolate into ¼” squares. Put all chocolate in a heatproof (metal or glass) bowl. Set the bowl over a small pan of simmering water - so that the bowl rests on the rim of the pan. Make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. This double boiler set up will melt the chocolate.
- Stir the chocolate to help melt. Once mostly melted, take the pan and bowl off the stove. The residual heat will fully melt the chocolate. Dip the top of one treat into the melted chocolate. Place the crispy treat, chocolate side up, on a baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the crispy treat squares.
- Once all treats are dipped in chocolate, refrigerate the treats for 20 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened. Place treats on a platter and drizzle with cooled caramel sauce. Enjoy!