My happiest place is home, at my family’s house, sitting around our backyard fire pit on a fall evening. You know that smell? You smell it when you are taking a walk and say, “Smells like someone is having a fire,” I love it. Ash, crackle, blaze, fire, s’mores.
When I was in high school this was the thing, the weekend activity I always looked forward to. A few of my brother’s athletic friends, his girlfriend (my best friend), my parents, a box of graham crackers, king size chocolate bars and a bag of jumbo mallows. As night fell, we’d bundle up against the fall chill, grab the supplies and trek to the side yard. My dad would tease my brother as he tried to build a fire, mom made sure everyone was warm and toasty, I dug around for roasting sticks, just happy to be there, to be with people.
Sitting around the fire, I always had the feeling of, “It’s the weekend, we’ve made it, another week down.”
Looking back now it seems childish; but when you are in high school, everything seems like the end of the world. He dumped me, I failed that, she talked behind my back, this sweater-vest is making me sweat, I didn’t make the team. I’ve lost my Five-Star. Who am I? Do people like me? Is that a zit!?
Taking a bite of that s’more, seeing my friends’ faces smudged with chocolate, being with mom and dad in the happiest of places, always made the stress in life seem to just melt away.
So as an ode to those fire pit Fridays and the s’mores of days past, I made these s’more brownies. Crunchy graham, melty chocolate, gooey marshmallow – and just as toasty as the classic. And hey, no fire pit? No problem!
Make some today, relish in simpler times and be appreciative of the wonderful people in your life – not an order, just a suggestion.
Here’s my recipe!
First make the graham crust. Mix together sugar and graham crumbs, add melted butter, stir until combined and finally press into a greased 8 x 8 brownie pan.
Lezzz make the brownies. Get your ingredients flowing.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and coffee.
Place melted butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low until fluffy.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition.
Mix until just combined.
Add the dry ingredients in two or three additions but leave one tablespoon of dry behind. Mix until just combined.
Toss the chocolate chips in the reserved dry ingredients.
Add the chocolate chips to the batter.
Dump the brownie batter onto the graham crust.
Spread out evenly. Place in a 350° F oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Check at 20 minutes. If the brownie has pulled away from the side of the pan and a cake tester comes out mostly clean (maybe a few wet crumbs) the brownies are done. Don’t over bake – we want these guys to be gooo-tastic.
Let the brownies cool completely. Meanwhile, make the mallow topping.
Preheat the broiler.
To make the marshmallow topping, place the egg and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer and place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Vigorously whisk by hand until the eggs are warm. Test the temperature with your finger.
Transfer the bowl to the mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium until the mixture is foamy. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar. Turn the mixer up to high and beat until the mixture is glossy and soft peaks form. This will take 6 – 8 minutes.
Spread the marshmallow all over the cooled brownie. Place under the broiler for 1- 2 minutes until toasted. DO NOT WALK AWAY – this happens quickly.
Let the brownies cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Look at this scene – brownies, a fire, family. My dad pretended to be two roasters to make me look cooler – love him.
Bonus shot of me getting deep into a toasted marshmallow, wearing a guy’s shirt and my mom’s jacket from the 80s.
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
For the brownies:
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee powder (optional)
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the marshmallow:
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
First make the graham crust.
Mix together the sugar and graham cracker crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until combined. Press the mixture into an 8 x 8 brownie pan. Set aside.
Next, make the brownies.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and coffee powder in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the melted butter, sugar and the vanilla.
Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a spatula between each addition.
Add the dry ingredients in 2 – 3 additions, scraping down the bowl after each. Leave 1 tablespoon of dry mix behind to toss the chocolate chips in. Mix until just combined.
Toss the chocolate chips in the reserved dry ingredients and then mix into the batter. The coating of dry will prevent the chips from dropping to the bottom of the batter.
Spread the brownie batter on top of the graham crust and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The brownies are done when they have pulled away from the pan and when a toothpick is inserted it comes out mostly clean (maybe a few wet crumbs).
Set the brownies aside to cool completely while you make the marshmallow topping.
To make the marshmallow topping, put a pot with a few inches of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the water and whisk the egg and sugar together vigorously. Cook until the eggs are warm to the touch and foamy.
Transfer the eggs and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla. Put the mixer on high and whip until the mixture forms soft peaks, about 6 – 8 minutes.
Preheat the broiler.
Dump the marshmallow on top of the cooled brownies and spread into an even layer.
Place the brownie pan under a broiler for 2 – 3 minutes until the marshmallow is toasted. Do not walk away, this process happens very quickly!
Let the brownies cool then slice and serve!