I got into a couple of interesting discussions on Facebook last week, specifically about an article entitled You Are What You Eat: A Food Blogger’s Dilemma, in which the author, Jamie Schler, laments the increasing presence of processed foods and craft projects masquerading as recipes on many food blogs. She asks if food bloggers should be responsible for promoting healthy, home-cooked food, or is the genre devolving into a get-rich-or-at-least-lots-of-attention-quick scheme. I, for one, am completely on board with her point (in case you couldn’t tell from my paraphrasing back there). There are SO many food blogs out there these days, and all are in a very real way in competition. And when you spend time and energy trying to come up with creative recipes using real food, writing something intelligible about it, and posting it, it’s downright frustrating to see newer, flashier blogs getting more attention for making Oreos look like mice or whatever. It’s also a surprising trend given how much we hear and read these days about eating more local and organic foods, which I do think is happening. Even in standard grocery stores in the United States, you’ll now see “Locally Grown!” signs, and farmer’s markets are getting bigger and busier. It just doesn’t make sense to me, in a time when better food is becoming more available, why anyone would want to load up on food dyes and chemical preservatives.
All that said, I have a Rice Krispie treat recipe for you today. It basically flies in the face of everything I just wrote, but sometimes life is like that. So let’s just agree that it’s important to recognize that some things are occasional treats. Like processed cereal (although really, Rice Krispies aren’t so terrible in the scheme of things – at least they don’t have a ton of added sugar) and marshmallows (which I really do love, and if I had a stand mixer I would totally make them myself, thus making them ok).
The impetus for making these treats in the first place was the fact that I found a box of plain Rice Krispies in France. Usually, all you can find are the chocolate kind (which incidentally, were fantastic in this recipe that I made for a Super Bowl party a couple years ago). I can now get plain marshmallows at the shop just downstairs from my apartment, so a recipe that once may have been a project involving several days of shopping for ingredients kind of fell in my lap. That very same week, I read this blog post about rosewater Rice Krispie treats. It was fate, you see. I loved the idea, and was halfway through making them, but when I reached for the rosewater I saw the bottle of orange flower water and got an idea of my own. What if I put in some pistachios? Oh, and pine nuts would go nicely, too!
And that is how these Tunisian pastry-inspired marshmallow treats came to be. I’ve made them twice already.
Crispy Marshmallow Treats with Mediterranean Flavors
A combination of the very familiar with the mildly exotic makes for a surprisingly addictive sweet snack. To the chew and the crispiness of the classic, I’ve added the crunch of pine nuts and pistachios and the haunting perfume of orange flower water. Sometimes called orange blossom water, you can find it in Indian and Middle Eastern shops as well as some grocery stores. Once, running low on butter, I substituted in some olive oil, whose flavor marries perfectly with the other ingredients. I encourage you to do the same.
¼ c. / 40 g pistachios
¼ c. / 35 g pine nuts
4 Tbsp. / 60 g butter or olive oil or combination thereof
¼ tsp. fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt
1 tsp. orange flower water
2 c. / 150 g mini marshmallows
2½ c. / 85 g crispy rice cereal (you know the one)
- Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C. Grease an 8” or 9” (20-23cm) square pan with butter or olive oil. The size of the dish isn’t hugely important – if it’s smaller, the treats will be thicker – it’s really up to you and the contents of your kitchen.
- Place the pistachios and pine nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer, and bake 8-10 minutes until they smell toasty and are starting to brown. Remove and let cool.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients, melt the butter (or butter and olive oil) over medium-low heat. Add the salt, orange flower water, and marshmallows. Cook, stirring often, until the marshmallows are completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Remove from the heat and gently stir in the pistachios, pine nuts, and rice cereal. Press this mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Your hands are the best tool for this job, and it helps tremendously if you get them wet first.
- Allow the treats to cool, cut into squares, and dig in! In theory, these keep up to three days at room temperature, wrapped in plastic. I defy you to make them last that long.
Makes 12-16 treats.
On this day in 2011: Interlude: St. Malo – Butter and cheese and other stuff in Brittany.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.