So, this is a stretch, but hear me out. I "needed" a way to tie in TV with the Grammys so I took a few steps. Ariana Grande was nominated, and she was on Scream Queens season 1. There are a lot of actual gross food moments on that show, given it's a campy horror show that lives up to that description. But as a former sorority member myself, one of my favorite parts of the show is the usually inaccurate but fun to watch stereotypes of the sorority, like when the Chanels eat only cotton balls for lunch. Although this is a rumor that circulates more in the ballet world, the imagery of the girls at the table with cotton ball lunches was pretty funny (if it weren't pretty wrong and sad, too).
I'm clearly not in the business of promoting any sort of disordered eating like that, but I still loved this trademark of their diet. In order to make an edible spin, I hit on the other end of the calorie spectrum. As much as I bake, I don't ever recall making Rice Krispie Treats. So I thought, might as well make it as hard on myself as possible and do it all from scratch. So I did! There was a false start on the marshmallow fluff because of an idiotic mistake with my candy thermometer but it all turned out okay. They're softer and easier to eat than the kind you have to saw through after they set in a pan like brownies. I added white sprinkles and powdered sugar for more of a cottony effect but besides that they're just good ol' homemade Rice Krispie treats.
Rice Krispie Treat Cotton Balls
inspired by Scream Queens season 1, episode 4
makes about 40 cotton balls (or about one 9x9 pan of the treats if you're going traditional)
- 2 packets unflavored gelatine
- 1 cup water, divided
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup (or substitute for another cup sugar)
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar (to keep the sugar from crystalizing, if you don't have it I don't believe it's the end of the world)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 8 cups Rice Krispie treats or similar cereal (or more if you want!)
- powdered sugar
- white sprinkles
Line a square baking dish with foil and grease it.
Mix gelatin with 1/2 cup water in the bowl of an electric mixer and set aside.
Bring 1/2 cup water, sugar, corn syrup and cream of tartar to a boil in a saucepan. Use a candy thermometer while the mixture boils and remove it from heat once it reaches 240ºF. It should take about 5-10 minutes from the time it starts to boil.*
While the mixture is boiling, melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
The gelatin should set during this time. It becomes a weird puffy squishy consistency (yum!). When it's time to remove the sugar mixture from the heat, start the mixer on medium and pour the hot syrup into the bowl with the gelatin. Once all the syrup is in the bowl, increase the speed incrementally from medium to high and continue to beat the mixture until it's white and fluffy and has increased in size. You'll know when it's there because it will be thick and marshmallowy.
Pour in salt and vanilla and mix until blended. Mix in butter. This might decrease the size of the mixture. Stir in as much cereal as you want until it's coated like your favorite childhood Rice Krispie Treats, basically the amount you make it up to you! If you like them really marshmallowy go lighter on the cereal. At this point if you want them the traditional way, transfer them to the coated baking dish and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to set.
If you want them to be pieces like mine, lightly coat your hands in cooking spray and take a handful of the mixture and shape them into little cylinders. Add sprinkles and use a sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar over the pieces. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set and enjoy!
*(This is where I ran into problems. It should go without saying that your thermometer should be IN the mixture. The tip of mine looked like it was submerged, but it wasn't so the temperature never reached 240º and instead of following my instincts and removing it from the heat, I kept it on and the mixture burned. That was fun! The next time I made sure the thermometer was positioned correctly and it went off without a hitch, so this process shouldn't be stressful, it's straightforward if you don't make a stupid mistake like I did!)
recipe adapted from Meredithsrecipes.blogspot.com.
[made while watching The West Wing (season 2).]