The first time I made them, I used the original recipe. It was good, but I felt it needed a little more... something. So I made a batch of my favourite caramel sauce and decided to see what would happen if I dumped some of that in along with the usual butter and marshmallows. It made all the difference.
The treats were great and made me think of fall, of caramel apples and Halloween. And so I decided to take my improved treats even further, adding a caramel bourbon glaze. Because who says all Halloween treats have to be for the kids? And then I just kept going... Next I added a sprinkle of coarse sea salt to the caramel topping and candy corns. I was in love.
Of course, if you feel the need to share these with the kids, you can always leave out the bourbon, or use bourbon extract instead. And either way, don't feel you need to limit yourself to the candy corn on top. Have at it with any — or all — of your favourite Halloween candy. It is a holiday of indulgence, after all.
RICE KRISPIES TREATS WITH BOURBON CARAMEL GLAZE
Start to finish: 3 hours (20 minutes active)
Makes 24 bars
For the caramel sauce:
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
For the bourbon caramel glaze:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 overflowing teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
For the bars:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
10-ounce package marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Coarse sea salt
1 cup candy corn
Start by making the caramel sauce. Remove the label from can of sweetened condensed milk, but do not open the can. Place the can in an 8-quart heavy-duty saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Check the pan regularly during this process, adding water as needed to maintain the level.
Using tongs and an oven mitt, carefully remove the can from the pan and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, proceed with the rest of the recipe.
To make the glaze, in a large bowl, combine the butter, vanilla, salt, half-and-half and bourbon, if using. Use an electric mixer to beat until the mixture is creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Once the can of caramel has cooled, carefully open it. Pour half of it into the butter mixture and beat until well mixed. Set aside.
To make the bars, coat a 13-by-9-inch pan with butter.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the 1/4 cup of butter on high for 30 seconds, or until melted. Add the marshmallows and toss to coat with the butter. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir until the marshmallows are completely melted. Add the remaining half can of caramel and stir until smooth. Add the Rice Krispies cereal and stir until well coated.
Using wet hands, gently press the cereal mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Spoon the glaze over the cereal mixture, smoothing it as needed. Sprinkle the top with a bit of sea salt, then scatter the candy corns evenly over the surface, gently pressing them into the glaze. Set aside to cool for at least 20 minutes. To serve, cut into 2-inch squares.
Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories; 60 calories from fat (23 per cent of total calories); 7 g fat (4.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 46 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 39 g sugar; 2 g protein; 140 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including "Pizza on the Grill."