Because we could
“Under the live oaks, shaded and dusky, the maidenhair flourished and gave a good smell, and under the mossy banks of the water courses whole clumps of five-finger ferns and goldy-backs hung down. Then there were harebells, tiny lanterns, cream and white and almost sinful looking, and they were so rare and magical that a child, finding one, felt singled out and special all day long.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
The smell of wood burning in fireplaces always reminds me of camping. If I close my eyes and take in the woodsy smoke I can see the campsite in Arroyo Seco. The first couple of years after high school we went camping often. One year, we went camping in May at Arroyo Seco, at the deserted Girl Scout Camp, Camp Cawatre. We set up camp under a canopy of thick oaks and made our campfire and cooking area in an open clearing surrounded by sycamores. (When camping, one never sleeps in the same place where food is prepared.) We wished it to be the sultry, hot Indian summer of September and October. It was May, the ground was so cold and damp we couldn’t sleep. The sky was still black when we got up to rekindle the fire and boil water for coffee and tea. Then we made S’Mores for breakfast because we could.
The memory twines itself around the S’Mores and I get all wrapped up wondering what else happened on that trip. I found myself craving every last memory and made these S’Mores Brownies just because I could. I’m the one who always insisted on a double layer of chocolate in my S’Mores. If two graham crackers and two marshmallows were needed to make a S’More, so was a double layer of chocolate. This recipe speaks to that need, a huge layer of chocolate brownie surrounded by a graham cracker crust and a crown of marshmallows.
The smoky flavor of almost charred marshmallows, decadent chocolate brownies and a sweet graham cracker crust bring back all those campfire memories. For maximum pleasure, broil the marshmallow topping just before indulging. The entire pan of brownies will be topped with gooey, sticky, sweet marshmallows, sublime. The unadorned brownies could be cut into serving pieces and then the marshmallows could be broiled just before serving. I dove right in and marshmallowed the entire batch.
The brownie recipe is our favorite from the Fat Witch Bakery cookbook. I’ve changed a few things, notably adding more chocolate and I wrote the recipe the way I make them, which differs from the original. Brownie recipes can be tricky, I’ve included weight measurements too. The brownie recipe is made to fit a 9”x9” square baking pan and calls for dark or bittersweet chocolate chips. I use these, they are stocked at most grocery stores. Don’t skip them for this recipe, it brings all the rich chocolate flavor a brownie deserves. I thank picky daughter for suggesting that reducing the oven temperature would yield brownies that baked more evenly, without dry edges and a soft center. I used almost an entire 16oz package of marshmallows, packing them tightly together on top of the still hot brownies. Each time I’ve made the recipe I keep adding more marshmallows for the topping. With this batch I reached the limit of marshmallowness.
|Graham Cracker Crust|
|3/4C/135gr||dark chocolate chips, 63% cacao|
|4||eggs, room temperature|
|1/2t/2gr||fine grain sea salt|
|1/2C +2T/80gr||all-purpose flour|
- Heat the oven to 350°. Line a 9” x 9” square baking pan with parchment paper, or line the pan with aluminum foil, then grease the foil. Because the marshmallow layer will be toasted under the broiler, trim the edges of parchment flush with the top edges of the pan.
- Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and process into crumbs. Pour the crumbs in a medium size bowl, add the sugar and melted butter. Stir until all the crumbs are coated with butter and the mixture begins to clump together. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Spread evenly, pressing down firmly to compact the crumbs. Use a small off-set spatula, stiff rubber scraper or pastry roller to press the mixture firmly into the pan. Bake the graham cracker crust for 8-10 minutes. When it is ready, just the very top edges of the crust will begin to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and adjust the oven temperature to 340°.
- In short bursts, melt the butter and chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave. Or melt the butter and chocolate chips in a saucepan on the stove. Remove from the microwave when there are still a few chocolate chips visible in the bowl. Stir to combine and finish melting the chocolate. Set side to cool.
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix together the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat until the eggs are a light lemony color. Then add the cooled butter and chocolate mixture. Mix again until thoroughly combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the flour and salt on top of the batter. Gently fold the flour into the chocolate mixture. Pour the batter evenly on top of the graham cracker crust and bake for 33–36 minutes. (If the oven temperature is set to 350°, check the brownies sooner.) When done, a cake tester will come out with crumbs but not wet batter. The brownies will have pulled away from the sides of the pan. Do not over bake.
- Adjust the oven to a temperature to low, broil. Move the oven rack to the shelf that is second down from the broiler unit. Nestle (almost) the entire package of marshmallows across the top of the warm brownies. Return the pan to the oven and broil the marshmallows. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Depending on your oven, the pan may need to be rotated to brown all the marshmallows. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove the entire brownie from the pan by carefully lifting the parchment paper or foil from the pan. The pan will still be hot. Grease the knife used for cutting the S’Mores Brownies. The S’Mores Brownies are best when first out of the oven, although the entire batch never lasts more than an entire day at my house.
var _gaq = _gaq || ; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-44220881-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);