Make A Berry Pie Recipe

A Nice Berry Pie

I’m sitting here in my neighborhood coffee shop attempting to write about pie. To be more specific, berry pie. I’m easily distracted and a bit of a daydreamer, so we’ll see how this goes. I suspect it could be one of those scenarios where it takes me the better part of an hour to craft a sentiment that basically communicates the following. This is the pie I bake most often. It’s made with the crust I love most. And it’s a stand-up way to use good berries as well as berries that aren’t quite perfect. It’s made with a rye flour crust that I pair with a simple mixed berry filling seasoned with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves.

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Berry Pie Recipe

But lets circle back a bit. How about I tell you what I like in a berry pie? I suspect not all of you will agree with me, but let me put it out there. I like a flaky-yet-substantial all-butter crust. I like that crust baked just this side of too dark. But not so dark that it gets overly dry. I also appreciate a slice of pie that (generally speaking) maintains its wedge shape. I like a filling that tastes like fruit, not sugar. And I’m sure there are a number of other things – if they come to mind later, I’ll tack them on to the end of this list.

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Berry Pie Recipe

As far as pulling this pie together is concerned, the filling is straight forward. It’s the homemade crust that sends everyone into a tailspin. I try to link out to some good instructional sites within the recipe (below) for those of you who are nervous about technique, or aren’t quite sure how to approach pie crusts. Lots of pictures, and a video. I might use different ratios/ingredients, but the techniques are the same. And just know, a bit of practice will have you cranking out pies in no time. This rye pie crust in particular is super adaptable – sometimes I sweetened it with a bit of sugar, or sprinkle sugar on top prior to baking. Herbs are welcome, as is citrus zest. I use it for savory pies, and for tarts too.

A Nice Berry Pie

Berries. I tend to use whatever berries I have on hand. My very, very favorite is a version made entirely with wild huckleberries. This pie was a blend of blueberries, huckleberries, and blackberries (8oz. blackberries, 8 oz huckleberries, 1 pound blueberries) – also great. Play around! As far as the crust goes, I’ll include my very favorite below, the one I use most often – it makes enough for one 9 or 10-inch double-crust pie.

Flaky Rye Pie Crust

75 g / v. scant 2/3 cup rye flour
175g / 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
8 oz / 1 cup salted butter
1/3 cup / 80 ml cold water or beer

You can make the crust using the quick and popular food processor technique. BUT I always make it by hand, using the above ingredients, and this technique. If you like a super-puffy crust, do the folding in Pim’s instructions 4x. I usually like mine less so, and fold & roll just 2 or 3 times, depending on how the dough is feeling. The pie in the photo was 3x.

Berry Pie Filling

2/3 cup / 3.5 oz / 100g natural cane or brown sugar
1/3 cup / 1.5 oz / 45 g flour (apf or wwp)
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sprigs thyme (prefer. lemon thyme) ~ 1/2 t.
2 pounds of berries, (see head notes)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter

1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked

Large grain sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 425F / 220C, with a rack in the bottom third. Roll out your pie crust – top and bottom – on a flour dusted counter. I tend to work the edges a bit first (particularly if I’m getting cracks) – roll and turn, roll and turn, dusting with flour when necessary. Flip once or twice. Work quickly and keep the dough moving. Place between unbleached parchment paper or Silpats, and refrigerate while you make the filling

Make the filling by combining the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and thyme in large mixing bowl. Add the berries, and toss gently until well combined. Set aside.

Line a 9 or 10-inch pie plate with the bottom piece of pie dough. Guide it into place without stretching. You want about an inch of dough extending past the rim of the pie plate, trim a bit with scissors or a sharp knife if needed.

Fill the crust with the berries, drizzle with lemon juice, and dot with the butter. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with a bit of egg wash, then top with the other piece of pie crust. Trim the top crust a bit if needed, then press the top and bottom crusts together at the edges. Working around the rim, tuck the overhanging dough under itself, and crimp with a fork or flute using your fingers (see picture up above). Brush the crust with more of the egg wash, cut a few slits into the top, and place in the oven for about 45 minutes – until the crust is deeply golden. Check your pie regularly after 25 minutes. If you need to foil the edges of the pie – pull it out and do so – this way the edges wont get too dark and dry. I don’t have to foil in my oven for this pie, even at this temp, but your oven might be a bit different. I also sprinkle with large-grain sugar about 25 minutes in – for a little extra crunch and sweetness. Let cool a bit, slice and serve.

Serves 8.

 

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Prep time: 90 min – Cook time: 45 min

 

Chocolate Bundt Cake Recipe

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Chocolate Bundt Cake Recipe

Slices of this chocolate bundt cake spent the better part of the past week in the car with me. Each piece, wrapped in parchment, tucked between the Ak-Mak crackers and a jar of almond butter. It is a fine travel cake. One that can handle a day or two in the car – blizzards, bumps in the road, hairpin turns, and all. Topped with not much more than a sweep of icing, it’s unfussy, and ready to go straight from the pan. I make it with a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flours, lots of yogurt, and the darkest brown sugar I can get my hands on. And it was just the thing to unwrap on a picnic table underneath a grove of sky-scraping redwood trees.

Chocolate Bundt Cake RecipeChocolate Bundt Cake Recipe

This cake gets sweetness and moisture from maple syrup and the darkest of brown sugars. I use beer in the batter, but you can’t really taste it outright. More than anything it lends a malty base note and depth of flavor. Go for a not-too-hoppy porter or stout, or chocolate porter or chocolate stout. I know most of you can get your hands on a Guinness, which is totally fine as well.

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Chocolate Bundt Cake Recipe

I’m keeping this post short (making my way home) – but for those of you who don’t have a bundt pan, I bake this batter in a wide range of pans. It makes great little cakes, and loaf cakes, and cupcakes. You know the drill, adjust the baking time, and bake until the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan a bit, and a tester/knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Chocolate Bundt Cake

I use less butter here, than most other cakes of this sort. And I’d argue, you can’t really tell. That said, scaling back much more beyond this wasn’t a good idea. Also, I use buttermilk in the icing because I typically have it on hand, but you can certainly substitute stout/porter or water.

Chocolate Bundt Cake:

2 cups / 475 ml chocolate porter or stout beer
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup / 75g natural cocoa powder (non-dutched)
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g whole wheat flour
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g all-purpose flour
1 cup / 4.25 oz / 120 g muscovado or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups / 355 ml plain whole yogurt
3/4 cup / 180 ml pure maple syrup

Chocolate Buttermilk Icing:

3/4 cup / 2.75 oz / 75 g powdered sugar
1/4 cup / 25g natural cocoa powder (non-dutched)
2 tablespoons buttermilk

flaky sea salt, to serve

Preheat oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the center.

Butter and flour (generously) a 11 or 12-cup capacity bundt pan (or equivalent). As I mention up above, you can bake this in other cake pans, just be mindful to avoid filling the pan(s) more than 2/3 – 3/4 full. Adjust the baking time as well – baking until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the center tests clean when you insert a knife.

In a saucepan simmer the beer down to 1 cup / 240 ml. Remove from heat, add the butter and stir until melted. Stir in the cocoa powder, mixing until smooth, then set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to let off heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, yogurt, and maple syrup. Whisk well, until nicely blended and uniform in appearance. Gradually add the (cooled) stout mixture, stirring all the while. Stir until well blended. Add the flour mixture, folding until just blended, using as few strokes as possible.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 35 – 45 minutes if using the bundt pan, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. You really don’t want to over bake this cake – err on the slightly moist side if anything. Remove from the oven, and turn out onto a cooling rack after seven minutes.

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In the meantime, make the icing by whisking together the powdered sugar, cocoa, and buttermilk. Really go at it for at least a minute. The icing should end up smooth and creamy looking, adjust with a touch of powdered sugar or a few extra drops of buttermilk if you want to tweak the consistency at all. When the cake is completely cool, run the icing around the top with an offset spatula and let it set.

Serve sprinkled with a bit of flaky sea salt. But don’t sprinkle with flakes of salt until ready to serve, or you’ll end up with little divots (see photos :)…

Makes one chocolate bundt cake.

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Prep time: 25 min – Cook time: 45 min

Buttermilk Berry Muffins Recipe

Buttermilk Berry Muffins

The other morning I found myself gushing to this guy about some muffins I baked. Josey is my neighbor (ladies, don’t hate), and he’s super inspiring – fully geeked out on all things flour, seed, and grain. As a side note, when I get him to show me how to make his Dark Mountain Rye Bread, you’ll be the first to know. I see Josey around a lot, and sometimes we chat about what we’re baking. So, there I was, telling him about a batch of muffins I was particularly into, they were just GOOD. Berry-streaked with sugar-sparkled tops, big flavor, buttermilk tender texture, I kept going on and on. On the way home it occurred to me that I should probably write them up. Here goes.

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Buttermilk Berry Muffin RecipeButtermilk Berry Muffin Recipe

I used whole wheat pastry flour, huckleberries from last summer (frozen), and topped them with crushed rose cinnamon sugar. They’re not overly sweet, and they’re nice and moist from a the buttermilk and a of couple bananas worked into the extra-thick batter. Although, it’s worth noting that after baking the banana flavor didn’t overwhelm the berries.

Buttermilk Berry Muffin RecipeButtermilk Berry Muffin Recipe

To make them extra-special I decided to top them. I love the combination of berry and rose, and that’s part of what inspired the rose & spice sugar-dusted tops. The next time around I might even spritz the muffins, in the last few minutes of baking, with rose water (or rose sugar water), or something along those lines, to heighten the floral aspect.

Buttermilk Berry Muffins

I used frozen huckleberries here, but you can substitute blueberries, mixed berries, toasted seeds, dried fruit, etc, etc. I make a rose cinnamon sugar* for the topping, but you can do a straight-forward cinnamon sugar if dried rose petals are hard for you to come by.

1 1/4 cups / 5 1/2 oz / 160 g whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/4 cups / 10 1/2 oz / 295 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup / 3 1/2 oz / 100 g firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

5 1/2 oz mashed, ripe banana (~2 med.)
240 ml buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup / 4 oz / 115 g unsalted butter, barely melted

1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g berries, plus more for topping
rose cinnamon sugar*

Preheat the oven to 400F / 205C, with a rack in the center. Line a muffin tin with papers. I used baking cups here, with those you can skip the tin.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In another bowl combine the banana, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and butter. Stir until blended and uniform.

Gently stir the berries into the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over dry, and mix until just combined. For tender muffins, do your best to avoid over-blending.

Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full (maybe a bit more than that), sprinkle with more berries and a generous dusting of cinnamon rose sugar.

Bake for 25-40 minutes (larger muffins on the long side), or until golden-topped, and a tester/toothpick comes out just clean.

Makes 1 – 1 1/2 dozen, depending on size.

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*Make rose cinnamon sugar by combining 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon crushed, dried rose petals.

Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 30 min

Make Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

I recently spent a few days with a good friend who loves cheesecake.  In fact it’s entirely possible that over a four day trip we ate at The Cheesecake Factory three times!  I came home from the visit inspired to try some new cheesecake recipes.

I thought pumpkin would be a fitting flavor to try first.  The recipe yielded a rich and delicious, lightly spiced cheesecake that would be the perfect addition to any holiday dessert menu.

I made 12 mini cheesecakes using a mini cheesecake pan (I found mine at Home Goods, but they are easily available on-line from Amazon or Sur la Table).  The mini cheesecakes may be a tiny bit of extra work to deal with initially, but once baked and cooled, they make a perfect small serving, with no cutting needed.

This recipe can also be made into one large cheesecake.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

This cheesecake can be made as minis (as pictured) or as a full sized cheesecake, with equally delicious results. The proportions for 12 mini cheesecakes are listed first, with the ingredients for a full sized cheesecake below.

Yield: 12 Mini Cheesecakes (or one 9″ Cheesecake)

ingredients:

(12 Mini Cheesecakes)
Crust-
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling-
1 (8oz.) package cream cheese
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

(9 inch Cheesecake)
Crust-
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling-
3 (8oz) packages cream cheese
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F

For mini cheesecakes-
Preheat oven to 350*F
Prepare crust by combining crust ingredients in a small bowl. Mix to combine with a fork. Add one rounded tablespoon of moist crust crumbs into each mini cheesecake space. Use a small bottle (such as a spice bottle, or a shot glass) to press down the crumbs, to form a crust.

Prepare the filling-
Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, eggs, sour cream, sugar and spices. Blend until combined. Add flour and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
Pour filling into prepared crusts. Divide batter amoung the 12 spaces.

Bake mini cheesecakes in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool about 15 minutes. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum.

For a large (9″) Cheesecake- Follow general directions above. Press crust into the botom of a 9″ springform pan. Prepare filling (as listed above). Bake cheesecake 1 hour. Cool 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

The cheesecake can be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days.
Top finished cheesecakes with freshly whipped cream.

This is a perfect dessert for the busy holiday season.  The cheesecake can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, and stored in the refrigerator.  Top your chilled cheesecakes with fresh whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon for a delicious and festive treat.

Make Watermelon Krispie Treats

Eating outdoors, enjoying picnics and BBQ’s with family and friends is always one of the highlights of my summer.  When planning food (or dessert) for a picnic or BBQ, I need treats that travel well, can handle being left out in the heat, and are easy to eat.  Rice Krispies Treats are an ever popular option for casual summer events.  I love “fancy” rice krispies treats and am always on the lookout for creative and delicious variations.  Last summer, I bookmarked these adorable Watermelon Rice Krispies Treats by Dine and Dish and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to give them a try.  This past weekend, we headed out of town for a family reunion and these cute rice krispies treats were the perfect dessert to bring along.  I placed them on the dessert table and all the kids made a bee-line right for them!  These are quite easy to make, and will draw lots of oohs and ahhs!

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Watermelon Krispie Treats

These cute treats are perfect for summer get togethers

ingredients:

For the green (rind) outer ring-
4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
4 cups mini mashmallows
3 Tablespoons butter
green food coloring

For the red (watermelon) center-
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
5 cups mini marshmallows
3 Tablespoons butter
red food coloring

Chocolate covered sunflower seeds, or mini chocolate chips

directions:

Prepare 2- 8″ cake pans by greasing with butter or non-stick spray.

Make the green (rind)-
Add 4 cups rice krispies to a large bowl, set aside.
Melt 4 cups marshmallows and 3 tablespoons butter in a large bowl in the microwave about 2 minutes, or until very puffy.
Carefully remove from microwave, stir, and add in green coloring.
Pour green marshmallow mixture over the bowl of rice krispies. Stir mixture together, quickly, using a buttered spatula.
Working quickly, divide the mixture between the two prepared cake pans, and press along the sides of the pans, creating a ring about 1.5 inches tall and 1-1.5 inches wide/thick. Rub a bit of butter on your hands as necessary, to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.

Make the red (watermelon) center-
Repeat as above, using the ingredients listed (left).
Press red mixture into the center of the two cake pans, press down and smoothign the top surface with a buttered spatula.

Add “seeds”
I added chocolate covered sunflower seeds, using a tiny bit of melted chocolate to keep each seed in place.

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Notes- I used the microwave to melt the marshmallows, but of course feel free to melt the butter and marshmallows on the stove top if you wish.
For the coloring- I used 1 drop of Americolor gel in Mint Green for the “rind”, and 2 drops of Americolor gel in Super Red for the “watermelon”


Assembly- Press the green “rind” around outside edge of a prepared cake pan, then make up the red “watermelon” mixture and press it into the center of the pans.

 

I added some “watermelon slices” onto pretty paper straws (first creating a hole using a wooden skewer).  I loved the look of them on the straws and think these would made adorable favors or take-home treats, wrapped in cellophane bags, and tied at the base of the watermelon.

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Make Fudge Mint Brownies

 

Fudge Mint Brownies… I think the title pretty much tells you all you need to know!

These are dense, rich and so delicious!  They can be cut into small squares and are a great dessert to serve on a dessert table, or bring to a dinner party.

 

 

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Fudge Mint Brownies

 

Brownie Layer~

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces

4 oz. dark chocolate (apx. 80% cocoa, or use half unsweetened and half bittersweet)

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Mint Layer~

3 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon heavy cream (or milk)

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract  (or 1/4 teaspoon creme de menthe and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint)

1 drop green food coloring (I use americolor mint green)

 

Chocolate Glaze~

3 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (apx. 70 % cocoa)

1 Tablespoon butter

Andes Mints (apx. 1/2 package, or 14 whole pieces, about 2.5 oz.), chopped

 

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Directions~

Preheat oven to 325*F.   Prepare a 9″x9″ (or 8″x8″) square baking pan by lining parchment paper across the bottom and sides of the pan, like a sling.  You can use a little butter on the pan to help the paper stay in place.

 

Brownies~

In a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water (or double boiler), melt the butter and chocolate.

Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a spoon.  Stir in flour and salt and beat with a spoon until the batter is smooth and glossy (about 1 minute).  Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan.

 

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until brownies start to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.  Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely (about 1 hour).

 

Mint Layer~

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat all ingredients until smooth.  Add 1 or two drops of green food coloring (one at a time, you don’t want it too green).  If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more cream (the frosting should be just thin enough to spread).  Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer.  Place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes, or until slightly firm.

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Chocolate Glaze~

In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter.  Spread over the mint filling, then top with chopped Andes mints.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate glaze starts to dull.

 

To Serve~

Remove brownies from the pan by lifting the ends of the parchment paper, and transfer to a cutting board.  With a sharp knife, cut into apx. 1-1 1/2 inch squares.  For best results, rinse off the knife in hot water, then wipe dry after each cut.

 

Brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, best served at room temperature.

Makes about 25-30 small squares.

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Candy Corn Krispie Treats For Halloween

This summer I made some fun Watermelon Slice Krispie Treats, and it recently hit me that I could use the same general concept to create candy corn krispie treats!  I love rice krispie treats, and I’m always drawn to fun desserts that incorporate the look of candy corn, so these treats are a perfect combo!

Although the assembly process does take a bit more time than a traditional batch of rice krispies treats… they are still much quicker to make than a decorated cookie, for example.

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Wrap the final treats in cellophane bags, add some fun ribbon and you have an adorable fall or Halloween party favor.

 

Candy Corn Krispie Treats

Traditional rice krispies treats get a festive update for Halloween.

Yield: 16 servings/wedges

ingredients:

For the yellow ring
4 1/2 cups rice krispies cereal
5 cups mini marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter

For the orange ring
2 3/4 cups rice krispies cereal
3 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 tablepsoons butter

For the white center
2 cups rice krispies cereal
2 1/2 cups mini marshamallows
2 tablepsoons butter

Yellow food coloring
Orange food coloring

directions:

Assemble your ingredients and gather 2 large bowls (one must be microwave safe), two rubber spatulas, two 8″ cake pans and non-stick cooking spray.

Also, have a stick of butter out, which you will need to use to grease your hands as you handle the krispie treat mixture.

Spray the cake pans with non-stick spray and set aside. Also, lightly spray two rubber spatulas with cooking spray.

For the yellow ring-
Add 5 cups mini marshmallows and 3 tablespoons butter to a large, microwave safe bowl.

Microwave the butter and marshallows about 3 minutes, or until warm and very puffy.

In another large bowl, measure 4 1/2 cups rice krispies cereal.

Carefully remove marshmallows from microwave and add yellow food coloring (I used 2 drops of yellow Americolor gel).

Stir the melted marshmallows, butter and coloring until smooth and fully combined. Immediately, pour the marshmallow mixture into the bowl with the cereal. Use an oiled spatula and stir quickly until fully incorporated.

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Divide yellow rice krispie mixure between the two cake pans, and use your hands to create a “ring” around the inside edge of the cake pan (as shown below), about 1 1/2 inches wide. Rub a bit of butter on your hands as necessary to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands. Work quickly, as the mixture is more difficult to mold as it cools.

Wash your bowls and spatulas and repeat the same process with the ingredients for the orange ring, and then the white center.

Once your three colors are pressed into the pans, allow to fully cool and set, at least 30 minutes. When you want to cut the triangles (candy corn shapes), flip over your cake pans onto a cutting surface, and tap pan on cutting board to remove krispie treat round. Cut the round large round in half, then quarters, then cut each quarter in half.

To add a cookie stick, or paper straw (as shown), first create a hole with a wooden skewer.

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