Birthday cake baking is a royal pain in the butt. So, I require the coworker recipients of my birthday cakes to be nice to me.
And then there's Jeff.
Jeff is a meanie.
He makes fun of me at least once a day and I can never read his poker face and he told me that Russian mustard wasn't spicy (LIES!!) and he said snarky things about my favorite character from the tv show Dollhouse, Mr. Dominic.
(God rest his tortured soul)
All of my friends with sense (which - to be clear - is not all of my friends) will tell you that dissing Mr. Dominic to my face is not the way to go about securing a birthday cake.
Lucky for Jeff, though, I am a giant sucker.
And lucky for me, Jeff was rather "meh" on cake, but he told me once that his favorite dessert in the world was Rice Krispy treats. I happen to have an awesome recipe for Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. This allowed me to assuage my guilt at leaving Jeff birthday treat-less, without breaking my unofficial (yet deadly serious) "No Cake for Meanies" Rule.
These are, without a doubt, the best Rice Krispy treats on the planet. They have that perfect, moist-but-not-gooey, marshmallowy texture, and also have depth of flavor from the browned butter. If you sprinkle a little sea salt on top before they cool, you'll get a nice, subtle salty hit in every bite. Plus, they're super easy; not much more time-consuming than the regular ones.
And if you feel guilty for spending about 10 minutes on a birthday treat for your friend, when you spent 8 hours on a cake for a Russian guy, you can cover it with colorful birthday sprinkles.
In the end, all was well that ended well. Jeff made happy noises when he found them on his desk, and declared them "The best birthday cake I ever had." And he washed out the pan himself, so I guess he's not all bad.
He loved his birthday treat, I don't have to feel guilty, and Laurence Dominic lives on in reruns.
Happy Birthday, Jeff.
Jeff's Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats
Note: These are slightly different than Smitten Kitchen's recipe, mostly in quantity but also in the fact that I use salted butter, and eliminate extra salt in the recipe itself. Hers works just as well, and doesn't make quite as many.
2 sticks salted butter
20 ounces of large marshmallows (for me, this was about a bag and a half)
1 regular-size (12 oz.) box of Rice Krispies
Sea Salt, to taste (Do not use kosher or table salt)
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a very large, light-colored pot or saucepan (I use a stockpot). Allow the butter to cool over medium heat, stirring it frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan. The butter will begin to bubble and foam; at this point, scrape aside the foam so you can see the color of the butter. As soon as it begins to turn brown, take it off the heat. (If it gets a little dark, don't worry - the little flecks of brown will be fine in the treats. However, be very careful not to allow it to burn.)
Add the marshmallows to the butter. Lower the heat to low, and return the pan to the heat. Stir the marshmallows and butter vigorously until the butter is absorbed and the marshmallows have melted and are smooth.
Add the cereal to the pan, and stir everything together. Transfer mixture to the baking pan and use a spatula or a square of waxed paper sprayed with cooking spray to press the mixture evenly into the pan.
Sprinkle sea salt over the top of the treats, and press in with your hand. Let cool, cut into squares and serve.