Spotted: Elevated Rice Krispy Treats in San Francisco
When I was growing up, my mom served Rice Krispie treats at all our parties. She was the only mom I knew who did that, which made me think of the treats as her speciality. People have intimated to me since that you can't specialize in Rice Krispie treats because it's a three ingredient recipe off the back of a cereal box. Well, after all these years, I've come to prove people wrong.
Because I've been noticing Rice Krispie treats all over town in San Francisco. Bakeries sell them and numerous sandwich and gourmet food shops as well. Seeing a plain treat is rare—most of the cereal and marshmallow squares have been dolled up with chocolate, peanut butter, sprinkles, or the like. The cereal treat pop up Red Spatula even makes them in more unusual flavors like miso-sesame and green tea matcha.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Rice Crispy Treat at Blue Barn Gourmet, SF
Of all the RKT I've tried, this PB & C version at Blue Barn ($4.25) is one of my favorites. Like most, it's an enormous cube the size of two that your mom would make. (The photo above is of one treat, cut in half and stacked.) Peanut butter and chocolate need no explanation, but this works especially well because there are uniform swirls of peanut butter and melted chocolate throughout. The peanut butter actually cuts the sweetness—though of course, being a Krispie Treat, it still is plenty sweet—by adding some salt. It also helps that the chocolate is bittersweet. Texturally, it's just right: soft with lightly crispy outsides. Peanut butter and chocolate lovers, be careful of eating the whole thing at once.
Salted Caramel Crispy Cake at Sift
Given that I edit a site devoted to sweets, this may not surprise you, but I can have the biggest, most intense sweet tooth. Example: In the right mood, I'll happily eat Fluffernutter plain from the jar until someone walks in, gets grossed out, and makes me feel compelled to stop. So on those days when I want sugar and more sugar, I like this confection ($3.50) from the always over-the-top Sift Cupcake and Dessert Bar in Pacific Heights.
Two crispy treats are sandwiched over a thick layer of salted caramel frosting and sprinkled with fleur de sel. The crispy treat layers taste exactly like the official, shiny blue-packaged Rice Krispy treats that you can buy in the supermarket. (Which, by the way, I love and which I can thank for helping me get through high school. Eat one of those babies at 10 a.m. and you find the energy to do calculus for hours.) The interior of this crispy cake is a fluffy salted caramel frosting which, surprisingly, doesn't overpower the outer treats, but also doesn't contain as much salt as I'd like. By comparison, the drizzle of dark chocolate on top tastes almost bitter. Again, this crispy treat is huge, easily feeding four people or more. And unlike the treat from Blue Barn, you'll probably want to portion this out, even if just for yourself.
So you can specialize in Rice Krispy treats if you gussy them up. Or at least make them more special.