I’m always hesitant to say a recipe is the “best ever,” especially for a dessert like Rice Krispies Treats that everyone knows and loves. But once you’ve tinkered around with a recipe for weeks — asking your kids, their friends, and basically anyone who passes through your house (tutors…cable guy…electrician…) to sample different versions — you can say it’s the best with some confidence.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the original back-of-the-box recipe but it can be made so much better with almost no effort. So why not? Here’s how: use more butter (lots more) and brown it; increase the marshmallows, and stir in some at the end for extra gooeyness; add vanilla for flavor; and, of course, add salt because a little salt makes anything sweet taste so much better.
What You’ll Need To Make The Best-Ever Rice Krispies Treats
How To Make The Best Ever Rice Krispies Treats
Begin by melting the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
After the butter melts, it will begin to bubble, foam, and turn golden around the edges. Eventually it will turn a dark golden color and smell nutty — watch carefully, it will go from golden brown to burned quickly.
You’ll see little bits of golden brown sediment forming; that’s okay. But if they get too dark, go ahead and strain them out and then pour the brown butter back in the pot.
Add all but 2 cups of the marshmallows, the vanilla, and salt.
Place the pot over medium heat and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the marshmallows are completely melted.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the cereal.
Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir until evenly combined.
Add the reserved 2 cups of marshmallows.
Stir until they are softened and partially melted. Don’t overmix — you want pockets of goo.
Transfer the mixture to a foil-lined 9×13-in baking dish.
Using the butter wrappers, press into an even layer.
Let cool for at least an hour, then use the foil overhang to lift the treats onto a cutting board.
This is my copycat version of the crazy-good hot crab rangoon dip served at TenPenh, a longtime favorite DC-area restaurant that marries cuisines from all over Asia. Think of the dip as a deconstructed crab rangoon, which is a crab and cream cheese-filled crispy wonton appetizer served at many Chinese and Thai restaurants.
I’ll be the first to admit that the combination of ingredients in this dip is odd but somehow it really works. Frying your own wonton chips is quick and easy (I show you how below) but if you don’t want to bother, toasted baguette slices or rice crackers work well, too.
What You’ll Need To Make Hot Crab Rangoon Dip
If possible, I recommend using fresh-off-the-boat crab meat. It comes in a clear plastic container and is usually resting on ice in the seafood department. It’s not always available depending on the season and region, so your second-best option is refrigerated crab meat, such as Phillip’s, which is readily available year-round. Just avoid shelf-stable canned crab meat; it contains additives that affect the taste and texture of the meat.
Fresh crab meat has tiny pieces of shell in it, so it’s important to pick them out. There’s also a lot of excess liquid in crab meat, so you have to drain it or your dip will be watery. The best way to gather the crab meat into your hands and squeeze out any excess liquid over the sink.
How To Make Hot Crab Rangoon Dip
Begin by warming the cream cheese in the microwave to make it easy to whisk, otherwise it will be lumpy and hard to incorporate with the other ingredients. Whisk until smooth, then add the mayonnaise, sour cream, Sriracha, lime juice, garlic, salt, and sugar.
Whisk to combine.
Add the crab meat, light green scallions, and 3/4 cup of the cheese.
Using a rubber spatula, fold to combine, being careful not to break up the lumps of crab too much.
Transfer the dip to a 1-qt baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese over top.
Bake until the cheese is melted and the dip is bubbling. (You don’t want it too golden.)
Top with the Thai sweet chili sauce.
Sprinkle the dark green scallions and cilantro (if using) over top.
What You’ll Need To Make Crispy Wonton Chips
Wonton wrappers are widely available at most supermarkets. You will typically find them in the refrigerated section of the produce department, near the tofu.
How To Make Wonton Chips
Pour the vegetable oil to a depth of 3/4 inch into a Dutch oven or large heavy pot. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350°. (If you don’t want to bother with a thermometer, just drop one of the wontons into the oil to test it; if it sizzles, the oil is ready.)
Fry the wontons in batches, without crowding the pan, for about 15 seconds on each side or until golden brown and crisp. Adjust the heat as necessary as you go if the wontons are cooking to quickly or slowly. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Serve with a spoon for scooping the dip onto the wonton chips, as the chips are fragile.
The grill usually gets all the attention on Memorial Day but it’s often the starters, salads and sides that steal the show. From pimento cheese to potato salad to cornbread, these potluck favorites deserve a spot at your holiday bbq.
Bursting with fresh blueberries with a tender crumb and sparkling sugar crust, these really are the best blueberry muffins. I’ve tried fussier recipes that call for mashing some of the blueberries into the batter or even swirling homemade blueberry jam into the mix, but there’s no need for all that — this simple recipe tops them all.
What You’ll Need To Make Blueberry Muffins
As you can see, I use both vanilla and almond extracts — that’s part of what makes these muffins so good. Vanilla is standard, but almond extract adds that unmistakable scent of almond, which complements the berries nicely. For the blueberries, I prefer fresh but if you’re using frozen, be sure to stir them into the batter without thawing, otherwise they will turn the muffins purple!
Watch My Blueberry Muffin Video
Step By SteP: How To Make Blueberry Muffins
To begin, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Whisk to blend.
Next, beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and creamy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Then beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
Gradually mix in the flour mixture, alternating with the milk.
The batter will be thick.
Add the blueberries.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the berries into the batter.
Spoon the batter into a muffin tin lined with paper liners. (It’s important to use the liners, otherwise the blueberries will stick to the bottom of the pan, making the muffins difficult to remove.)
Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over top.
Bake for about 30 minutes.
Let the muffins cool in the pan for about ten minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Since they are full of juicy blueberries, they stay moist for days; simply reheat in the microwave or oven to refresh. Enjoy!
This is my go-to grilled chicken breast recipe. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or cookout, and so versatile. You can serve the fillets on their own (kids love them), topped with cheese on a toasted bun, or, as I often do, sliced over a Greek or Caesar salad.
Because they’re so lean, grilled chicken breasts often turn out dry and bland. Not these! My technique ensures tender, juicy, and flavorful grilled chicken every time. Bonus: they’re quick and easy. You do all of the prep ahead of time and you won’t even dirty a single bowl.
What You’ll Need To Make Grilled Chicken Breasts
How To Make Grilled Chicken Breasts
Step 1: Pound the Chicken
Place the chicken breasts in a 1-gallon freezer bag and pound to an even ½-inch thickness. This both tenderizes the meat and ensures even cooking. Left in their natural shape, the thin side of the fillet dries out while the thicker side finishes cooking.
Step 2: Make the Marinade
Use a fine or Microplane grater to zest the lemon. Simply rub the lemon in one direction against the blades, turning the lemon as you go. Be sure to remove only the yellow part; the white pith underneath is bitter.
I don’t use the juice of the lemon in the marinade because, contrary to popular belief, acidic ingredients (such as vinegar or lemon juice) do not tenderize lean boneless chicken breasts. Just the opposite: they “cook” the exterior of the meat and give it a leathery texture. The zest is enough to give the chicken the essence of lemon, while still maintaining its smooth, succulent texture.
Mix all of the ingredients except for the chicken together in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag (go ahead and use the same one you used for pounding if it is still in good shape). Add the chicken breasts to the bag and massage the marinade into the meat until evenly coated.
Step 3: Marinate
Seal the bag and place in a bowl in the refrigerator (the bowl protects against leakage); let the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Step 4: Grill
When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill to high heat. You want nice grill marks and char in the short amount of time it takes to cook these. When pounded thin, chicken breasts only need 2-3 minutes per side…no more!
Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)
Berry trifles make wonderful (and patriotic) summer party desserts. Not only are they gorgeous, they feed a crowd and can be made in advance. The only drawback is that, with all their layers, they can be time-consuming to make from scratch. I save time by using store-bought Savoiardi biscuits (a.k.a. crisp ladyfingers), cream cheese, and raspberry jam. The result is a dazzling, delicious berry trifle that can be made in 30 minutes.
Use a deep, clear glass bowl or a footed glass trifle dish so the pretty layers can be seen. And don’t worry if the layers look slightly uneven or if the layers mix a bit — that’s the beauty of a trifle. You can also make the trifle in small glasses as individual parfaits.
Ingredients for Summer Berry Trifle
How To Make Summer Berry Trifle
To begin, warm the raspberry jam in the microwave. Toss it with the berries and let it sit while you prepare the rest of the trifle.
Beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and Confectioners’ sugar.
Add the vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.
Beat in a third of the whipped cream, then add the rest to the bowl and fold in with a large rubber spatula.
To assemble, begin by layering the lady fingers in the bottom of the dish.
Top with a third of the berry mixture.
Followed by a third of the cream.
Continue alternating until all of the ingredients are used up, ending with the cream.
Let the trifle chill for at least 8 hours, then top with some fresh berries and a spring of fresh mint, if desired.
Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)
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My father is one of those people for whom dessert is not really dessert unless it’s chocolate. When I was growing up, he used to keep a stash of Hershey’s kisses in the back corner of the freezer, where my sister and I couldn’t reach them. Every night after dinner, he would line exactly six of them up on the arm of the sofa and relish them, one by one, while he watched TV.
This chocolate cream pie is dad’s all-time favorite dessert, and every year before Father’s Day, he starts dropping not-so-subtle hints that I should make it. With a chocolate cookie crust, silky chocolate pudding center, and pillowy whipped cream topping, it is truly a chocolate lover’s dream.
Be sure to plan ahead because the filling needs at least eight hours to set up before serving.
What You’ll Need To Make Chocolate Cream Pie
How To Make Chocolate Cream Pie
Begin by making the crust. Combine the chocolate wafers, sugar and butter in bowl of food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
Pulse until the cookies are finely crushed.
Pour the crumbs into a pie pan.
Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan (spread some of the crumbs up the sides first, making the crust just shy of 1/4-inch thick, then press the remaining crumbs onto the bottom; use a the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to even out, if you like). Bake for 10 minutes until crisp.
Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Whisk gently until combined.
In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the milk and egg yolks. Add the mixture to the saucepan in a slow and steady stream, whisking until the mixture is smooth.
Cook over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, 6-8 minutes. Immediately turn the heat down to a simmer and cook — whisking constantly, especially around the edges — for one more minute until thick. (The constant stirring and low heat prevents the eggs from scrambling. Be sure to scrape the whisk against the bottom and edges of the pan where the mixture is more likely to overheat.)
Turn off the heat, then immediately add the chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla extract.
Whisk until smooth.
Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top. Press a piece of saran wrap directly over surface of the filling to prevent a film from forming; chill in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Up to three hours before serving, place the heavy cream in chilled mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip on medium-low speed until the whisk or beaters begin to leave tracks in the cream. Add the sugar and whip until the cream holds medium, silky peaks. Go slowly towards the end; if it gets grainy or curdled, you’ve gone too far.
Spoon the whipped cream over the filling.
Spread the whipped cream, leaving some of the chocolate filling showing around the edges. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate and refrigerate until ready to serve.