Here's a new spin on an old favorite, Rice Crispy Treats. But this version has a little more grown-up appeal...it uses dulce de leche in place of marshmallows. Are you groaning in ecstasy yet? (Dulce de leche is a Latin dessert sauce made with caramelized milk.) It also has the extra crunch of sliced almonds. One downside, or upside, depending on how you look at it, is that these little treats need to be eaten right away. They lose their crunch after a day or so. I haven't tried this yet, but I suspect a coating of dark chocolate would help them stay crispy a little longer.
1 1/2 cups crisped rice cereal (I used brown rice crisps)
3 teaspoons canola oil
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced almonds
one can dulce de leche (recipe below)
You can buy dulce de leche at most grocery stores these days. But it's expensive. I usually make my own with a can of sweetened condensed milk. Using the pointy end of a bottle opener, poke two holes on opposite sides of the top of the can. Remove the label. Place the can in a medium saucepan. Pour water into the pan until it reaches two-thirds of the way up the can. Bring the water to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Keep a sharp eye on the pan and add more water as needed to keep the level at two-thirds of the way up the can. This is very important. You don't want the can to boil continuously or the water level to drop too low. If the can gets too hot, it can be EXPLOSIVE. So pay attention. Simmer for about one hour until the milk bubbling at the top of the can turns a deep golden. Be very careful when removing the can from the water. I usually use tongs. It's very hot and the condensed milk will be like lava. I recommend making your dulce de leche earlier in the day and then letting it cool.
I've also tried a method where you microwave the sweetened condensed milk in 2-4 minute bursts at 50%, then 30% power levels until it caramelizes. I found this to be more of a hassle than the stove top method. There's also a recipe here using milk, sugar, corn syrup and cinnamon. I'd leave out the cinnamon for this application.
Now, back to the crispies...
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the rice crispies cereal with 2 teaspoons of canola oil. Spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes until rice is crisped. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
When the rice is cool, stir in the sliced almonds. Add 2/3 cup dulce de leche and the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and stir well to coat evenly.
Spray a little cooking spray or canola oil into your hands and coat them like you're putting on lotion. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture and form into discs. This is very sticky stuff. I had to reapply the cooking spray a few times to keep it from sticking to my fingers.
Sprinkle the tops of the crispy cakes with a little salt, then bake 10-12 minutes until just golden brown.
Let cool. You can spread more dulce de leche on the tops of them, if you like, before serving.
Adapted from the October 2007 Gourmet magazine.