I love to play in the kitchen and experiments started there often never get shared to the outside world. This particular experiment is making Puffed Rice Treats from scratch using as few processed ingredients as possible.
My partner challenged me to make these and being the skilled chef that I am decided to accept. How silly I am!!
The first challenge is figuring out how to get rice to puff up. With popcorn the moisture inside the kernel of corn is encased in a hard outer shell. When this water is heated the pressure builds up and in an explosive release popcorn is born.
Rice is a different grain. Most of the rice that we purchase in the store doesn’t have much moisture in it and the outer shell, or husk, has been removed. The commercial puffed rice uses a process of extreme pressure exerted on the grains first and then the pressure is suddenly released. When this happens the grains of rice puff up to many times their original size.
Here is a video to show you what I’m talking about
How to problem solve this without a special piece of equipment?
Asians have another process in which they take cooked rice and let it dry out. This drying process lets the outer shell of the rice harden while trapping a small amount of moisture inside. When you fry this cooked and then fried rice it also puffs up.
So this is the route I went in. Taking a few different types of rice I cooked it and then added it all to my dehydrator. I used sweet rice, brown rice, and regular white rice and fried it by itself first to see what would happen. Then I cooked each of the different types of rice, dehydrated it, and then fried them in batches.
You can see the fruits of my labor here.
What I found is that the uncooked rice when fried didn’t puff up at all. However it still had a golden brown exterior that had a roasted, nutty flavor and crunchy texture. Pretty tasty but not what I was looking for.
The cooked and dehydrated rice puffed up when fried and also had a roasted flavor but a much lighter texture. Success of sorts. I still wasn’t sure if this would work in a dessert setting but I was determined to give this a try anyway.
The next phase of the Puffed Rice Treat was the marshmallow.
I did a bit of research looking for different recipes. I even found a vegan marshmallow recipe at http://veganmarshmallows.blogspot.com
I’ll be giving a few of those recipes a try in the future. However the recipe that I eventually settled on was a basic recipe using unflavored gelatin to help with the whipping.
** WARNING MAKING MARSHMALLOWS CAN BE VERY MESSY **
Homemade Marshmallow Recipe ( I made a double batch )
Making this in a stand mixer is ideal
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup cold water, divided
- 12 oz granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup confectionery sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Nonstick spray
- Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water.
- In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt
- Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes
- Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees Farhenheit
- Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat
- With a whisk attachment on the mixer turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture
- Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes
- Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping
While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
- Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl
- Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray
- Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan
- Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
- When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan
- Using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan
- Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover
- Reserve the rest for later
- Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining cornstarch/sugar mixture, using more if necessary
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks
If you’ve never eaten homemade marshmallows then you owe yourself to try this. They are impossibly fluffy and airy. An amazing taste treat!!
So now with the 2 main components to the Puffed Rice Treats it was now time to combine them for the end recipe. So breaking out the puffed rice treat recipe here it is.
Puffed Rice Treat Recipe
- 1/4 cup butter
- 10 oz of homemade marshmallows
- 6 cups homemade puffed rice
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and continue to stir until the marshmallows have completely melted.
- Remove from heat.
- Stir in the puffed rice, coating them well with the melted marshmallow mixture
- Using a buttered or silicone spatula, press the mixture evenly into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan which has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with wax paper.
- Cut into squares when the mixture cools
And that is all there is to making homemade Puffed Rice Treats. They had a roasted taste that was different but delicious than what I’ve had before. Well worth the time and effort to made these.
I hope that you give this a try. Let me know what you think and how do you think this can be improved?