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Slow Food Organic Rice Krispies Treat

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My friend Therese enlisted my help to teach her son how to cook a healthy snack from scratch.

All parents agree that teenagers have a most unhealthy and unbalanced diet nowadays. Many are vegetarians and don't even like vegetables. All they seem to like are frozen pizzas, kebabs and fries with ketchup or mayo or both if they have their way. How can we expect them to grow up properly on such junk food? So when my friend Therese called for my help to show her boy Taz how easy homecooked food is, I could not refuse and drove to their chalet up in the Swiss Alps. like a real pro, Taz followed my verbal instructions to make an afternoon snack that would make the great Pierre Hermé jealous, using the finest homegrown natural ingredients.

You know I am a fiend for slow food, so naturally my recipe will include an organic candy very popular in Switzerland, the Carambar. These are sold, through a shell company, by the Swiss Guild of Dentists and are very popular with kids of all ages. Rumor has it they are made from the concentrated sap of some Alpine shrub. How the Dentists Guild got so rich seling them, nobody really understands. After all, carambars sell for pennies and how many can each Swiss kid eat every year? They can be best described as sticky fudge bars, but really that doesn't do them justice.

Slow Food Organic Rice Crispies Treats
120gr (4 oz) carambar
120gr (4 oz) marshmallows
120gr (4 oz) butter
200gr (5 oz) rice crispies

Let's throw in some wild marshmallows, harvested on a high-altitude alpine meadow, and some alpage butter. After Taz has carefully weighted all of the ingredient, ...

... he dropped them in one of his Mom's frying pans. No need to complicate things here, just mix everything but the rice crispies in the hot pan.

Look who forgot the wrappers on the carambars?

Now let's turn the heat on, as low as possible.

Mom walks on my set for some last minute hairstyling. He's got to look good for your readers, she apologizes.

At last some action - the butter is melting...

... then everything starts to go soft.

I look over my camera and see with concern that the bottom is now full liquid while the marshmallows are still floating on top. Taz is drawing some circles on the surface but not really mixing anything.

Taz, this isn't tai chi. You need to actually scrape the bottom and bring it up so that everything melts evently I tell him. Taz tries a couple moves, then gets the hang of it and tosses it like a pro.

Rice crispies in the pan ...

... and pour. Taz has all the detachment of a seasoned chef, that boy will become somebody one day.

There seems to be very little of it compared to the brown mixture compared to the puffed rice. I check my proportions to see if they are off, but no, everything looks correct.

Now the serious part begins. This thing will turn into concrete within seconds. You must mix it forcefully to spread the brown caramel into the puffed rice before it sets.

But this boy has a natural talent - he mixes it like if it were custard and the caramel soon coats every last grain of rice.

Smooth the top ...

... and into the fridge.

Next page don't miss Taz fighting his older brothers off the candy!

As soon as the candies are out of the fridge, like those giant cats prowling the jungle, Taz' older twin brothers Mat and Dela rush into the kitchen and start looting what their younger sibling had prepared. Taz tries to defend the product of his work, but he is soon overwhelmed. Now he tries to trade the already stolen candies for some brownie points with his brothers.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, let's see how we got there from where you left off on the last page.

Using the handle of a spoon, Taz pries the now rock-hard treat open from the pan...

... and umold it on a chopping board. I guess I missed some fudge of the bottom, he tells me, pointing at the brown spots on the edges.

With great care, he uses his Dad's giant Porsche knife to slice the treat crosswise ...

... then lengthwise to get regular squares.

Taz looks at the mess he made on his Mom's stove, with bits of burnt marshmallow and stuck Carambar. He sees I'm looking too, raises his eyes and says FX, you are sooooooo cleaning this yourself! 

Finished!

With religious concentration, Taz now tastes the result of an hour's work. What a treat!

The family suddenly rushes into the kitchen and congratulates Taz on a job well done. I start hearing the microwave working. Paul, the father, places the treats in little bowls and heats them in the microwave. Boys need a nutritionally balanced meal, he explains, scooping vanilla ice cream on top.


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65 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Octavian
Those look very good.

Nice photographs as always, FX.
  • #2
  • Comment by Simon
Lord, that looks too good to miss out on.  I need to get my hands on some Carambars - I think a holiday is in order!

On a side note, it's good to see you doing something healthy for the kids Francois.  If this doesn't finally convince my youngest to eat his marshmallows so he grow up big and strong, what will?
  • #3
  • Comment by Paul Mckenna
Who did the washing up ?

Paul
  • #4
  • Comment by Xavier
Ha ha ! This article is so hilarious ! Nice job ! It would be great to serve along your malabar ice cream !
Terrific posting!! This looks like so much fun. Great photos too!
Carambar still exists? I remember pasting it on my braces. ;-)
  • #7
  • Comment by Loicy
Hi FX,
What is the subtitute for Carambar that we can use. They look so delicious it gives me an idea that I can make it for my fussy 2 &1/2 yr old....

Loicy
OMG, those bars look addictive and terribly "dirty"! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa
Wow it´s incredible. I´m sure that is very delicious.

bye!!
Good job, Taz!!!!  Those look gooey and chewy, just as they should.  Learn more cooking - remember, the guy who cooks gets all the chicks.  (You look handsome and confident at the stove!)

Chiffy
I love Carambars! My French teacher brought a couple of bags with her to class once, after a trip to Paris, and everyone loved them. I've been missing them ever since.
  • #12
  • Comment by jmz
Augh!!  Love your site and have passed it on to lots of other "foodies."  BUT... I cannot understand why you never have a single pic of yourself!... Why?  Even one...so your readers don't feel like you are some mystery guy.  Please? or even just email one.  Thank  you.   BTW my son's favorite movie is Ratatouille from Pixar...it makes me want to move to Europe.
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
JMZ, no picture of me? Not at all! Just read the articles on the first page and you'll see a picture of myself right there. Or go to the tags/topics page and click on FX cameo and yea shall be answered!
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
Angelica, are Carambars only a French/Swiss thing? And how many teeth did you lose in your first carambar? Just joking!
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
Chiffy, indeed cooking boys get all the chicks! But the treats are not gooey and chewy thanks to the large quantity of rice crispies.
I used to eat Rice Krispie squares all the time as a kid!  They were also the first 'dessert' that I ever made all by myself!!  Ah, I still remember - 1/4 cup butter, 1 pkg marshmallows, 6 cups of rice krispies.  What fabulous things.  

I've never heard of Carambar before though.  What is it like?  Would it be similar to a Tootsie Roll (if you have those)?
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
Javis, thanks it was indeed delicious although by the fourth I felt they were really sickly sweet!
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
Rosa I'll ask Taz' parents next week if their boy is now addicted to "slow food"!
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
Loicy, Therese told me you can do them without carambar, but any meltable caramel/toffee/fudge should do. If a reader knows about American equivalents of the carambar, please let us know! Here is the wikipedia link just in case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carambar
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
Zorra in fact Taz told me his dentists prohibited him from eating carambars on account of his braces!
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Angela we did really have fun with this one!
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
Luci thanks for visiting!
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
Xavier yes you are quite right the bubble-gum ice cream would have made a very nice complement, but it's an advanced recipe and I didn't want to tax Taz's cooking debuts.
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Paul, when Taz was cooking he put some (OK, a lot) of the caramel mixture over the stove, and he said "FX, you are soooooo cleaning this yourself!".
I phoned his father tonight and he said there was still some burnt marshmallow on his stove.
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
Simon, how about a marshmallow strawberry soup to convince your youngest of the benefits of eating soup?
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
Thanks Octavian, glad you liked the picture. We had some trouble as when we started the kitchen was bathed in sunlight, but I shoot manual and it kept changing. Then as the outside light dwindled while the sun set, my reflection started to appear in the window behind the young chef, and I didn't realize this until too late!
  • #27
  • Comment by Kobi Tobinao
Hi FX, I hope you got a link from Facebook with my pictures that I want to share with you, if you didn't I will resend it.
As I told you- I love you site and your pictures. Which Camera and lens you own? If will be very helpful to know. I'm looking to buy a good camera to take my food pictures.
Thank you so much.
Kobi. Los Angeles
  • #28
  • Answered by fx
Kobi, I did not get your link, please if you can send it by replying to this email. I use a Nikon D300 and a bunch of lenses. The big difference comes from the lighting,  off-camera flashes shot through umbrellas. Lighting - that's the first thing you should look into, not the camera.
  • #29
  • Answered by fx
Tina, this recipe is the exact same Therese quoted, it must quite famous I guess! Carambars are caramel candies, so sticky you can use them to repair walls. But if the sun comes, they will melt. They are wrapped in papers with silly jokes printed inside.
FX: Yes, I think it is. And I never chew toffee, I suck on it to make it melt. And that may have sounded weird, I don't know... :p
Cute kids, great kitchen, lighthearted series. The treats, though, tempt me not at all: I used to make them by the hundreds in a university bakery. (The easiest way I know to make those is to put the marshmallow cream and butter -- no Carambars here  -- in a hotel pan and seal with plastic film and aluminum foil, then toss into a pressurized steamer for half an hour. Then toss in the cereal and mash into pans.)
  • #32
  • Comment by Tess
Awwwww! This must be the cutest illustrated recipe ever! :)
Wow!  Those look so good!  I am a Rice Krispies Treats addict! If I make them, I can rest until I've eaten every last one.  I'm fascinated by those candies.  I will have to look and see if I can find some here in the US.
Looks great, but let me ask...what happened to the slow food?  I was expecting your usual over-the-top style of puffing your own rice, marshmallows from scratch, etc.  Get back in the kitchen and do it over for us :)   Please.
  • #35
  • Comment by Julie
Thank you FX for your excellent, educational article.
My daughter is vegetarian, in spite of not liking vegetables or mushrooms or eggs, so I shall be certain to make her read this so that she can get the full benefit of learning how to make a healthy home-cooked snack.
  • #36
  • Comment by sparky tavis
How could we not enjoy this.  Tas is our grandson.  How great.  As if we didn't already know!!!.
  • #37
  • Comment by Lily
I am finishing up my studies and I can say that the sugar rush you get after eating marshmallow treats has helped me plenty during exams.

I have only made these once in my life, after that my mom was very angry.

Is there a secret to getting sticky marshmallow off your mom's best pan?
Now, I soooooo want to have one of those rice krispies treats. Of course it does not help that you have that big beautiful photograph where almost the entire frame is filled with the treats!

When I saw the pic of Taz's mom fixing his hair, I laughed to hard. Honestly, I think that mothers cannot help themselves at times.
  • #39
  • Comment by ariun
What a nice kid. He will surely get the chicks! Speaking of whom, where's Dan the Man? We want more Dan! ;-)
Well, I was wondering when you were going to start posting some real "gourmet" recipes! ;-)  A very fun post and a good way to get the kids into the kitchen. Your friend's son looks like he might actually enjoy being in the kitchen.
  • #41
  • Answered by fx
Fran, indeed I felt like posting something seriously gourmet for a change! Right up Taz' alley!
  • #42
  • Answered by fx
Ariun there will be another recipe with Dan the Man Friday week.
  • #43
  • Answered by fx
Cynthia I had to place a bouncer at the entrance of the kitchen to keep the parents out while we were shooting, they stood behind me and entered half a dozen time to remove a stray cup or pick up some rice crispies that fell to the floor. Lovely people but new to the world of food photonovels where continuity is of the essence!
  • #44
  • Answered by fx
Lily I think your mom's best pan is doomed once you have cooked marshmallow in them, the trick is to use hand-picked high-altitude slow food organic marshmallows!
  • #45
  • Answered by fx
Hello Mr Tavis, glad you liked the article, Taz was very cooperative and seemed to enjoy very much cooking that most American treat under your daughter Therese's supervision!
  • #46
  • Answered by fx
Julie this is indeed one recipe  to show contemporary vegetarian kids that vegetarianism does not need to be boring!
  • #47
  • Answered by fx
Gfron, I will post some real slow food cookies soon, although not carambar-based...
  • #48
  • Answered by fx
Susan, make sure to limit the number of Treats you eat, they are really seriously caloricious!
  • #49
  • Answered by fx
Tess, glad you liked my little cooking fumetti!
  • #50
  • Answered by fx
FX Hartigan, I can't say I disagree with you, those treats are really sickly sweet and after the first one enjoyment starts to dwindle. But teenagers are from another planet and they can tolerate much higher doses of fat, sugar and alcohol than we grown-ups!
  • #51
  • Comment by Joanna
What a delightful photo story. You made me laugh! Thank you....
I have ever bought similar snack in the supermarket here in China, but I have never seen the cooking process.  Today I at last watched the concrete processing and happily enjoyed it.  Very nice and the snack looks yummy.  Taz did well.
  • #53
  • Comment by Kelly Shannon
This is hilarious! I knew the rice crispy treats I have had were always missing something: Carambars!
Aye caramba!
  • #54
  • Comment by molin
Hello,

In India they do something called "chikki" especially in Mumbai areas which is done with peanuts and jaggery syrup which is kind of similar to what you have shown here. I don't know how they do it, but i know i am giving you some research and development activity :-) good luck.
  • #55
  • Answered by fx
Molin, I am sure that candies made from raw peanuts and jaggery must be a whole lot healthier than this rice Krispies Treat was!
  • #56
  • Answered by fx
Kelly glad you liked my article!
  • #57
  • Answered by fx
Hong, glad you liked Taz's work and hope you can try this in your own kitchen some day!
  • #58
  • Answered by fx
Joanna, I'm glad to hear you liked the article!
Taz is adorable! Rice Krispies treats are one of my favorites. Who would have thought to add caramels to the marshmallow? Looks amazing, and can I just say how gorgeous the kitchen is?
I bet you could just add some American caramels to the mixture.
  • #60
  • Comment by Damiano
Great, I remember doing something like this when i was younger, using rice crispies and melted Mars candy bars.
  • #61
  • Answered by fx
Damiano, I think the Mars bar might be an acceptable substitute for our beloved Carambars...
  • #62
  • Answered by fx
Laura, indeed Taz did a good job and had the right look for this recipe. You can tell he really enjoyed making this! You can certainly use American caramel instead of Carambars!
OK, FX, this is so funny. Congratulations on teaching Taz how to cook.
  • FX's answer→ Yes this was quite fun to cook, way more than if I were the one to make it. I think Taz had a good time too!

  • #65
  • Comment by Conrad
Never thought of using anything other than butter, marshmallows and Rice Krispies.
I guess the closest thing we can come to here to in Canada is Cadbury Caramilk or Mars bars. Will have to try next time we make Rice Krispie squares. Warmed up in the microwave topped off with ice cream sounds like an idea to try too!



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