Fargo operates a wonderful public library downtown and I love it for so many reasons. Let me count the ways. . .
The downtown location is spacious, contemporary, and well-stocked. Visitors can park for free for three hours in a lot across the street as long as they remember to ask a staff member to validate their ticket. There’s a small coffee shop near the entrance that smells like freshly-baked brownies and visitors are free to bring anything from this coffee shop into the library. Unlike bigger cities, new releases and best sellers often perch on shelves instead of waiting lists, and the fines are noticeably more affordable. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve paid fines totalling $30-40 in Minneapolis, but in Fargo, they’re more like $6. My replacement library card cost a mere $1. On certain occasions, late fees are altogether waived or discounted if you donate canned goods.
When I visit the downtown library, I make a beeline for the cookbooks, of which there are many shelves. On my most recent visit, I picked up Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook because I enjoy her food blog. Perelman’s recipes are creative without being pretentious and they are conducive to home cooking. Plus, her beautiful photography makes everything look enticing. There’s nothing I like less than examining a cookbook only to find that each recipe requires a massive number of ingredients, is filled with ingredients that are extremely expensive or difficult to locate, or includes 20-billion istructions.
Fortunately, Perelman’s recipes are quite approachable. One of the most simple recipes in her book is for Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats, in which Perelman deviates from the original version by using a larger quantity of butter, browning it, and adding sea salt. Those who tried my version of Perelman’s treats described them as “Rice Crispy treats for adults,” and said they reminded them of “creme brulee.”
These treats only require three ingredients and they are ready to eat as soon as they cool enough to cut. Therefore, they’re an an easy guilty pleasure to bring to a party that will appeal to both adults and children. We served them plain, but you could also drizzle them with chocolate or enjoy them like my husband; spread with Nutella or peanut butter and nibbled while curled up on the couch watching Seinfeld.
Browned Butter and Sea Salt Rice Crispy Treats
6 cups Rice Crispies (or puffed rice cereal)
1 bag (10 oz.) of plain miniature marshmallows
1 stick of butter, salted or unsalted, plus enough to grease the pan (I used salted butter and the specified amount of salt and did not find them too salty. If you are cautious, use a little less salt).
1/4 teaspoon of Fleur de Sel (you could use another type of course or flaky sea salt like Maldon, but I prefer Fleur de Sel because it’s so delicate).
- Grease interior of a 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 square pan (the treats will be a little taller if you use the smaller pan). If you have parchment paper, cut a piece to fit the inside of the pan. Grease the inside of the pan, insert parchment, and grease the exposed surface of the parchment.
- In a large pot, melt the stick of butter and cook gently over medium heat until it just turns golden brown and smells toasty. Turn off heat immediately because the butter can burn quickly.
- Add the bag of marshmallows and stir until they melt in a smooth substance. Turn the heat back on to low if the pot cools too much to melt the marshmallows.
- Add salt and stir in the rice crispies until evenly coated.
- Pour into the greased pan. Quickly spread until even with a buttered spatula. Don’t press them into the pan with too much force, otherwise they will become dense.
- Cool. Loosen the edges. Invert onto a cutting board and cut into desired-sized pieces with a sharp knife.