I promised you a good one, and you know me by now: If something can go wrong, it usually does.
Well, after my 3 a.m. phone call to Ace, being that I was in the middle of spring break, I spent the day at his house, disconnected from my computer and most of the external stressors in my life. Ace went out with his best friend to check out a car he wanted to restore and well, that left me at his house alone with Lucky and one of his housemates, Bonnie. I do really love that dog, so I didn’t mind at all puppy sitting, it would give me an opportunity to cool my jets.
While I was M.I.A. for a week from his house, Ace went grocery shopping. On the counter in the kitchen I found the makings for all kinds of goodies. Cake mixes, marshmallows, Rice Krispies, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, the whole she-bang that just had my name all over it.
Now what you don’t know, or maybe you do, is that I live to spoil Ace. I do. Also, I’m a huge baker. I love to bake. Cookies, cakes, candies … if it’s a confection, I’m all over it. Nothing in the world says how much you care about someone than them walking into the house to the smell of fresh-baked anything, so if I have time, motive and opportunity, I’m baking like a mad woman.
It also doesn’t help that Ace is a real sucker for homemade toll-house chocolate chip cookies. Oh yeah, the chocolate chip cookie and he are good friends, but friends in moderation. So whenever I bake, Ace is all over it. He loves it, so we’ve got a great situation brewing … I love to bake, he loves cookies and cakes. Good thing happening there, right?
So I’ve set the scene. It’s me and Lucky and a really big kitchen with baking paraphernalia. Time to get to work, right?
Well, let’s first set the way-back machine for 1975. I was a 4-year-old that got sent to hang out with my mom’s friend Carol while Mom took care of Dad during his first back surgery.
I remember going to the store with Carol and sitting in the shopping cart “car seat” just made for little 4-year-olds. We went up and down the aisles and I watched as Carol picked up butter, marshmallows and Rice Krispies, then over for Nilla Wafers, vanilla pudding and bananas to make banana pudding. When we got back to her house, she let me stand on her kitchen step stool as I watched her put things away. Then came the fun, Carol let me help her make Rice Krispies Treats. Yep. That was my first and last time to make them.
Until 36 years later.
You have to remember, in my house, we didn’t make stuff like that, we stayed with the staples — cakes, cookies, pies and Jell-o based things. That was our routine and it didn’t involve the Rice Krispies Treat. If we did make them at our house, I don’t remember it, besides, the last thing I’d ever be allowed to do is to engage in something like that because Mom and Nan would have it covered, leaving no room for me.
So fast forward to 2012 and there I am in Ace’s kitchen.
The one thing I’ve learned over time as a baker is that if you follow the directions, 9 times out of 10 it will come out right. It’s really hard to screw up a recipe unless you are really trying, or (in my case) new to the recipe and working with things you don’t normally work with.
Speaking of what I don’t normally work with, marshmallows would be on the top of the list. I can toast them, I can stick them in my hot chocolate, but after that, the marshmallow and I are perfect strangers. Cooking with them? Out of the question. I’ve never had a recipe that I’ve made time and time again with marshmallows.
So, we’ve established that I’m in a relatively foreign kitchen (any place that’s not my kitchen with my stuff is “foreign”, no matter if it’s my Mom’s or Ace’s). I’m faced with an ingredient that I have almost never worked with and I’m about to attempt a recipe that it’s been 36 years out of my 40 on the planet since I’ve seen it attempted.
Are you scared?
You should be!
Ok so there I am, standing in the kitchen with Rice Krispies box in hand, reading the recipe. It’s not so bad, 4 cups of mini-marshmallows, a couple of tablespoons of butter, 6 cups of Rice Krispies …
I look around…
Ok, 13 x 9 x 6 pan … check.
Sauce pan … check.
Wax paper … check.
All of my ingredients … check.
It looks like I’m all ready to go, so I get started.
I put my butter in the pot and started to melt it. I check the recipe and it says, “Melt over low heat.” I check the stove, the burner is set on “Low.” Ok, I’m good there.
As the butter started melting, I had already measured out all of my ingredients and they were sitting in a line of neat little bowls just waiting for me to add them to the pot. I’m in good shape so far, right?
So the butter is melted in the bottom of the pan, I then start to add the marshmallows. They don’t melt very fast, so I felt like I was in the clear. As I’m waiting, I go check on the dog, pat his head, buzz around the house for a second, check my blackberry for e-mails and/or missed calls, wash my hands and I return to the stove.
Ok, the marshmallows weren’t melting very fast at all, so I grab a wooden spoon and give them a stir. As I looked down into the bottom of the pan, I went, “Ooh! Melty goodness!” The marshmallows were going just as planned, and if there is anything in the world I know about being a confectioner, the worst thing you can do is burn any type of sugar because it just stinks to high heaven. So I check the knob on the stove again, it was still on “low” so I think I’m in good shape.
After a while with me stirring and patiently waiting, the marshmallows turned themselves into a big white pile of goo. Not incredibly loose, but I also didn’t want to destroy the marshmallows by turning the sugar into liquid, so after I got the marshmallows a bit looser, I decided it was time to add the Rice Krispies.
So there I am, adding in the six cups of Rice Krispies to the pot, stirring and watching them as they’re getting all over the place. It seems as the pot I picked out was a bit too small, but no biggie, I kept adding in the Rice Krispies handful by handful, so I didn’t make an even bigger mess. At that point I realized the pot was waaaay too small because the marshmallows weren’t mixing with what Rice Krispies I had remaining in the bowl to pour in, so I figure, what the heck, I’ll just pour everything into the bowl with the Rice Krispies, it’s bigger, I can just stir them up in there … that didn’t work either.
And I just saw my cake-pop baking pal Heidi put her head into her hands. Yeah, I know Heidi, it wasn’t a great idea.
At seeing the mess I had just made, the Rice Krispies not even beginning to look remotely like they were ready to go into the pan, I realize that my marshmallows were still too stiff, so guess what I did …
I took the glass bowl and promptly stuck it into the microwave.
And there goes Heidi’s squeal of anguish … “Noooooooooooo!”
Yeah, well you may have known that, but I sure as hell didn’t. Microwaves melt things. That’s what I knew.
So, I stuck it in there for about 30 seconds and took them back down. Yep, the marshmallows were melted all right …
Finally at being able to stir up the whole mixture, I get it over into my Pyrex pan and get it all in there, thinking I had saved myself from catastrophe. I took my wax paper, patted it all down and it looked just fine to me, so I let them cool while I started putting the ingredients together for the one thing I do know how to make without fail, cookies.
While I was measuring out my flour, sugars, salt and the rest of the cookie makings, Bonnie came in and said, “What are you making?” I looked at her and said, “Well, I saved myself from disaster, I almost botched the Rice Krispies Treats, but I saved myself by putting it in the microwave.” As soon as I said it, Bonnie went pale. She said, “And they turned out?” I said, “Yeah, as far as I know … You want to be my test victim?” Her look was priceless, she said, “Sure, I love Rice Krispies Treats, I’ll give them a try.” It was then that it all fell apart. As Bonnie walked up to the pan, she said, “Well, they look alright,” then took a knife to the contents of the pan and promptly hit bedrock. Those suckers were hard as a rock. I immediately went pale as she pried out a small square, took a bite, and as I saw the treat explode like a piece of peanut brittle she said, “Well, they sure are crispy!”
At that point, she looked at me and said, “Did you butter the pan before you put them in there?” I stood there with eyes big as pie plates going, “You’re supposed to butter the pan?” She smiled gently and said, “Yeah, you don’t want them to stick.” Oy veh, I was out of my element, brought to my knees by Rice Krispies. At seeing the total loss I was at, Bonnie got out a very large metal spatula, you know, the kind that don’t bend? Well, guess what, as Bonnie struggled valiantly to get the mess I made out of the Pyrex pan, the spatula bent. Hey when I screw up, I go all the way! So, after going around the edges of the pan, then breaking them into bricks, Bonnie and I got the botched batch out of the pan. I literally do mean that you could have used those suckers as bricks and mortar and I promise you the Three Little Pigs could have taken what was in that pan and copyrighted the formula on how to make Rice Krispies Bricks. The Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t have stood a chance trying to blow down a house made of those suckers. After the pan was empty again, I grabbed it and ran hot water, quickly cleaning the pan to get ready for the next batch.
It was at that point that I quickly snatched up my Blackberry and called Ace, thinking to myself, “I’ve got time, I can make more …” then cursed myself as I had already snapped a photo of the botched batch and sent them to his Blackberry, so he knew I had made them. I had to find out how far away he was so I could rectify the mess I had made! He answered the phone, “Hi there!” and I said, “Um, how far away are you?” the reply left my stomach near my ankles as he said, “Oh, about 20 minutes.” Trying hard not to give away the catastrophe I had made, I said, “Ok, see you when you get here…” then promptly hung up the phone and sprang into action with Bonnie right next to me.
When Bonnie saw the pot I had used to make the first batch, she kindly looked at me with not a single bit of laughter and said, “You might want to use a bigger pot this time …” as I ran quickly around the kitchen re-measuring all of the ingredients as I threw the butter into the larger pot that Bonnie had picked out. Then I threw in the marshmallows and waited for them to melt.
While the butter and marshmallows got to be gooey again, Bonnie came to check on me again as I was searching for the mixer for the cookies. She looked down into the pot and said, “A little bit longer, but you don’t want to burn them. By the way, did you butter the pan?” At that point, I grabbed up what was left of the stick of butter I was using and buttered the pan with her giving instructions. Then I kept looking around the kitchen for the vanilla, baking soda, sugars, morsels and the rest of the cookie ingredients so that when the Treats got done, I could slap those down, get everything into the mixing bowl and be casually mixing cookies when Ace got in the door, none the wiser that I had messed up.
As I was searching for the mixer, I went out the garage door at Ace’s, thinking that maybe the mixer had been stored out there (hey, if you know anything about Ace, things are sometimes stored in strange places). As I got out the door, guess who was standing there? Ace. Holy lordy. At that point, all I could do was burst into laughter, even harder than before when I had realized the whole first batch had become brick and mortar! I couldn’t even begin to explain to him what happened, all I could do was hold onto him and laugh hysterically. All that eeked out of me was, “Um, where’s the mixer?” and as he gave me instructions as to its location, he looked at me as if I had completely lost it.
As I went back inside, Bonnie heard he was outside and she got into the act with me as she stirred the marshmallows and I added the Rice Krispies. This time they turned out really well, and as Bonnie and I took wax paper and got them patted down into the pan, Ace and his best friend walk in, catch us in the act as I’m smiling at him with tears pouring out of the sides of my eyes I’m laughing so hard.
Bonnie popped up and said, “You weren’t supposed to see this …” Ace replied, “What happened?” and as he asked that, I burst into even more laughter because …
I’m 40 years old and I still can’t make Rice Krispies Treats without adult supervision.
I owe Bonnie huge thanks as she winked at me and I got back to what I do best — bake cookies.
Later on, Bonnie’s husband walked in, looked at me as he grabbed a fresh baked walnut chocolate chip cookie and said, “I heard you make one hell of a Rice Krispies Treat.”
Yep, if I can step in it, step on it, burn myself with it or otherwise mangle myself, I usually do.