Recipe quick takes: Joanne Chang’s Brown Butter-Crispy Rice Treats

This is a really quick “quick take”, since I didn’t take any pictures at all. But look, you all know what Rice Krispies Treats look like? You had them as a kid, just like I did. Well, “Brown Butter-Crispy Rice Treats” from Joanne Chang’s Flour (Chronicle Books, 2010; p. 133) are just like that, only huge, and made with brown butter and vanilla bean rather than plain melted butter (or worse, margarine!) and vanilla extract.

I got the inspiration for making this recipe from having leftover chocolate puffed rice cereal (a fancy organic sprouted brown rice brand, not Kellogg’s Rice Krispies) after making Mindy Segal’s “Barter Brownies”, which have a puffed-rice topping, for Browniefest a couple of weeks ago. As it turned out, I didn’t have nearly enough of the chocolate puffed rice, so I bought a box of regular puffed rice (same brand, actually, but without the cocoa) to make up the difference. Then when I got home and looked at the recipe again, it became clear that I would need a whole box and then some, so I used the plain puffed rice cereal as the main and augmented with the cocoa-flavored rice.

For marshmallows I used the “everyday value” marshmallows sold by weight in huge plastic boxes at Whole Foods. (They used to carry a small local producer, Tiny Trapeze, but apparently this company was bought by Whole Foods, or one of Whole Foods’ suppliers, and shut down, or so I heard. I haven’t verified this in even the most rudimentary way.) The recipe calls for 20 oz (560 g) of marshmallows, which was a bit less than one of those big boxes (Chang writes it as “two 10-ounce bags”, but we can attribute that to the intended audience). Other ingredients are a half-pound of butter, half a vanilla pod, and a little bit of salt. I picked my Le Creuset Dutch oven as the stovetop melting-and-mixing vessel most likely to be able to hold the entire quantity of marshmallow and cereal.

I had a bit of an issue with Chang’s instructions for browning the butter, compounded by the usual difficulty of interpreting what “low heat” means relative to my stove. (If only there were some standardized unit of measure for these sorts of things!) I had a somewhat bigger issue when I went to compute the nutrition for these bars: she gives an equivalence of 240 g to 9 cups, but the labeling on my puffed-rice cereal said that a two-thirds cup serving was 30 g — making 240 g only five and a third cups. If I had noticed this before actually making the treats, I would have at least considered whether I should make up the volume with more of the cocoa-flavored rice, but since I didn’t find out until after, I can’t be sure how I would have resolved the difference, or even whether it mattered that much. Clearly using a less-dense cereal (I didn’t compare labeling for actual Kellogg’s Rice Krispies brand puffed-rice cereal) would have made for larger bars with a somewhat better distribution of marshmallow “glue” and fewer overall calories per unit volume. As it was, I cut my 9×13 pan of rice treats into 18 pieces, rather than the 12 suggested in the recipe, and ended up with servings that, visually at least, appear to be about half the size of the portions at Chang’s Flour Bakery-Cafe. On the scale, my portions come out to about 55 g (2 oz); if using Chang’s portions, that would be about 85 g (3 oz) instead.


Assumes use of One Degree “Veganic” Sprouted Puffed Brown Rice Cereal, measured by weight to 240 g; generic database values used for marshmallows as the Whole Foods house marshmallows provide no nutrition information. Based on Chang’s stated portion size.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 3″x3¼” square (85 g, 3 oz)
Servings per recipe: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 360 Calories from fat 135
% Daily Value
Total Fat 15g 24%
 Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 161mg 7%
Potassium 66mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 54g 18%
 Dietary fiber 1g 3%
 Sugars 28g
Proteins 2g 4%
Vitamin A 11%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 11%
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