Nothing says summer like the smell of a campfire. Watching a fire burn is incredibly mesmerizing: the rapidly licking flames disappearing into the ether in a jumble of colors that turn from neon blue to deep red. Campfires were special occasions on the farm: we'd have our cookouts down by the first pond. My dad set up a small circle of weathered stones, and we’d trek down from the kitchen holding plates of burgers and homemade buns and squeeze bottles of ketchup.
Sprawled on a blanket, we eat. We get our fingers sticky with relish. The smell of campfire smoke clings to our hair when we fall asleep later in our beds. The adults are happy, laughing, clinking bottles of beer. Our little clan of kids is energized. We run around playing tag, sticking our toes in the shallow pond water, then we become drowsy with good food and the heat of an active summer day. We lie down on an oversized picnic blanket. The night sky overhead is brimming with stars.
The best part, naturally, is the dessert. (That is not campfire-specific.) I adore the taste of a s’more, but frankly the engineering of it all seems a little lacking. My graham cracker crumbles apart at the first bite. The chocolate oozes to one side. The marshmallow never melts in an even layer. It’s an issue of proportions, guys. (Side note: DO NOT even get me started on cupcakes.)
But that’s okay. We are adults here, and we can have s’mores in a more logical way. And by more logical, of course I mean made with brownies.
Here’s what you are going to do. You are going to take your favorite brownie recipe (or use mine) and pour the batter into a greased 9” pie pan. Bake that until it’s just slightly underbaked: A tester inserted into the middle should have some wet crumbs clinging to it.
Now spread a thin layer of graham cracker crumbs (for crunch), then a generous layer of chocolate chips over the top of the brownie pie. You should not skimp here. You should also taste a few chips for quality control.
Next, upend an entire bag of marshmallows over the top of the chocolate chips. Squish them in there! They’re not delicate! They won’t mind. You’re aiming for a nice even layer of marshmallows.
Slide the pie pan back in the oven for a bit, until the chocolate just starts to melt. You can turn off the oven now, but turn on the broiler. Put the pie plate under the broiler—watch it very carefully!—and take it out just as the marshmallows start to brown.
You will now have a layer of fudgy, almost gooey-in-the-center brownies topped with melted chocolate and toasted marshmallows. I’m actually getting hungry just typing this.
If you have leftovers (who are you?), I have been toying with the dangerous idea of blending a scoop of this dessert with a scoop of ice cream and a little milk for a wickedly rich s’mores milkshake. If you do this, please report back. Photo documentation would be welcome.
For the brownie layer
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons water
For the topping
10 ounces marshmallows (a mix of mini and big is FUN)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
To make the brownie layer, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugars, salt, flour, and espresso powder.
Add the eggs, melted butter, and water. Mix well until the batter is smooth and shiny. Stir in the dark chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into a greased 9" pie pan.
Bake for 40 minutes. Do not overbake! A leeeettle gooey is the name of the s'mores pie game. Keep the oven on!
Remove from the oven. Either proceed immediately to the rest of the recipe, or you can make the brownie layer ahead and keep it at room temperature for at least a day (or in the freezer for much longer).
Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the top of the brownie layer. Sprinkle the semisweet chocolate chips evenly over the graham cracker crumbs. Top with the marshmallows.
Stick the pie pan in the preheated 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes, or until the chocolate chips just start to melt. Turn off the oven, and turn on the broiler. Leave the pie under the broiler (watch it carefully) until the marshmallows just begin to brown.
Remove the pie from the broiler and serve!