Dried noodles, funnily enough
Rice Krispies Treats are classic for a reason. They are fast and simple to make, often even very young kids can learn to make them on their own. Ingredients are inexpensive and easily acquired. And let’s be honest, they are delicious in a perfectly nostalgic way, crispy and sticky and sweet. The originals can be amped up with peanut butter or chocolate or different cereals, but they do seem to stay a bit of a childhood taste memory.
I’m an “and” person. I don’t like to choose between things, and I often think that pairings of flavors enhance and enrich each other, so I’m a peanut butter and jelly, sweet and sour, chocolate and caramel, butter and honey kind of eater. And I do love Rice Krispies Treats, but they get a little one-note about three bites in.
Other flavored cereals tend to make the treats a bit too sweet for me; I think there needs to be a bland base for the marshmallow or it gets cloying. But even plainer cereals like Cheerios or corn flakes have the same issue. And the only thing I’ve never loved about the treats is that after the first day, the cereal loses some of its oomph and the delightful crunchy part of the experience gets a bit rubbery. That's why I ditched it in favor of fried chow mein noodles.
Yeah, those ruddy brown curls you get as a garnish on your Cantonese food. They are actually the perfect swap for cereal to take your treats to a very new and fabulous place. They hit all the good salty-sweet notes you want, but they are structurally a bit denser, so they stay crunchy even after a couple of days—though there's no way they'll stick around that long. Browning the butter provides a nutty backnote, and dark chocolate chips sprinkled on top while the bars are still warm melt slightly and provide an extra layer of bitter in addition to, well, chocolate. Think of these bars as a grown-up treat for your inner child.
Brown Butter Salted Chow Mein Noodle Treats
1 16-ounce bag marshmallows
1 16-ounce bag fried chow mein noodles
8 tablespoons salted butter
2 cups dark chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt (optional)
Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with baking spray and line with one sheet of parchment, folded so that it is the width of the bottom of the baking dish, and hangs over the side to create a sort of sling for removing the bars. Spray the paper. Get a sheet of foil slightly larger than the baking dish and have it at the ready.
Put the chow mein noodles in a large bowl and set aside. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium high heat until it browns lightly and starts to smell nutty. Reduce the heat to low.
Add the marshmallows, and cook, stirring constantly, until they have melted into a liquid sauce. Working quickly, pour the hot marshmallow sauce over the chow mein noodles and mix until they are well-coated.
Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan and press them down into an even layer with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
Quickly sprinkle the chips evenly over the surface and cover with the foil and leave for 10 minutes. Remove the foil, the chips will have melted, maybe not completely, but that is okay. Using an offset spatula or a spoon smear the melty chocolate over the top, don’t worry about getting an even layer, you want these to look a bit rustic, with just some smears of chocolate here and there. If you want to up the salty factor, sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt while the chocolate is still damp.
Let cool uncovered at room temperature until set, then using your parchment sling, remove them from the pan and cut into your desired portions. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.