art is the illusion of spontaneity; a spark of creativity flourishing in a fluid moment. As an individual who thrives on the notions of order and forward planning, I’ve come to realise that the act of now – the present – is where we are boundless and where we should embrace a little impromptu living into our lives. If you’re anything like me, scribbling notes and ideas for future bakes, endless shopping lists of double cream and Himalayan salt, gianduja chocolate and hand-picked hazelnuts, you’ll know that the desire to bake starts with a little spark.
That spark started with my sister, who recently decided she was to quit her job and travel as far away as possible from the vibrant chaos that is London: Melbourne, Australia. Having booked her one-way ticket to Down Under, the party planning was under way for her leaving ‘do. Naturally, my parents started to panic like there really was no tomorrow and so in the build-up to the big day and with less than a week before we drive her to Heathrow Airport, I was commandeered with the task of producing three deliciously delectable desserts to take a little load away from them on the food front.
I spent the week planning and leafing through books, magazines, scouring Pinterest and Instagram for foodie inspiration, making lists on post-its, eyeing up the baking aisles as I did my weekly shop and eventually finding myself plonked on the sofa contemplating what she’d love best.
Number one: Brownies. Rich and chewy, crammed with white chocolate and doused in Baileys or Tia Maria. Nutty and decadent. Number two: Apricot and ricotta cake. Definitely one you can expect to serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and plate up for Sunday breakfast (for any leftovers that might be going…!). Number three: Now, this is where my brain ticked over one too many times. Considering we also had pavlova, banoffee pie and the cheese platter to get through, I ruled out anything overly indulgent and eyeballed my recently purchased box of Rice Krispies.
Remember the times at primary school, when you found yourself face to face with a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Squares? Either your face lit up like a fairground carousel, or crumpled, nose upturned by the sight of the shiny, metallic blue glare emanating from your plastic lunchbox. Unfortunately, mine was the latter and so reluctantly I melted my marshmallows and butter, stirred in the puffs of toasted rice cereal and dumped the gooey mess into a square tin to set.
Thinking this was indeed a crime against baking and also a sad excuse of a dessert to present my sister at her leaving party, I reluctantly laid these out for our guests to devour. Yet to my astonishment, they disappeared within minutes of being placed on the dining table. Seems like the Rice Krispie Square hasn’t been lost on us then. And it caused a stir among those of us born in the 80s and 90s who nostalgically turned the conversation to that ghastly blue packaging we all remember so well. Even if my sister didn’t eat one, her send-off was one of spontaneous speeches, glittering emotion and one hell of a good laugh. And in that moment of encompassing warmth, I almost forgot she was going…
Rice Krispie Squares
Makes 24 squares
45g unsalted butter
300g mini white marshmallows
180g rice krispies
Optional: edible glitter
1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low-heat.
2. Dump your marshmallows in and cook gently under they’ve melted and blended, stirring constantly.
3. Take the pan off the heat and mix in your rice krispies immediately, making sure they are all coated, glossy and white.
4. Press the mixture into a 32cm x 32cm square tin (you may want to use silicon gloves to do so as the mixture is extremely sticky). Alternatively wait a little and then use the back of a metal spoon to press the mixture in. If you like, add a sprinkle of edible glitter on the top.
5. Leave to set then cut into 24 identical squares.
Recipe by Nigella Lawson