Wednesday, September 18, 2013

S'mores brownies

I think I did it.  I think I improved upon perfection with these s'mores brownies.

Some people might insist you not mess with perfection.  That it's impossible to improve upon it, hence the very definition of perfection.


Others might swear that true s'mores are only made over a campfire and anything else that uses the "s'mores" moniker is just a fraud.

More lies.

So-called friends will tell you that brownies are already rich and decadent and "don't need more stuff." 

Pffffft.  Huge mega lies.

There is always room for more when it comes to desserts.  Have you ever seen someone put a single sprinkle on top of an ice cream sundae?  Or one chocolate chip in cookie dough?  I think not, friends.

It's with that very thought process in mind that inspired me to make s'mores brownies.

Brownies = good.  Graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, and toasted marshmallows = good.

Therefore, by the laws of food sums -- it's been a while since math class -- brownies with a graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, and toasted marshmallows are good squared.

Good squared is really, really outstandingly good, in case it's been a while since you had math, too.

Crunchy, chewy, chocolatey, and oh-so-gooey!  And, just like their classic campfire relative, it's impossible to eat just one.  So much so that after 3, I packaged them up to deliver to my coworkers.  (That's always a good indicator of a recipe done right.)

Is there anything better than a barely-underbaked brownie sandwiched between graham crackers and charred marshmallows?

No way, sir.  No way!  These are utter perfection on top of previous perfection.  Perfection squared.  Times infinity.  (Anyone else thinking of this AT&T commercial?)  Or something like that :)

One year ago: Three bean & beef chili

S'more Brownies
(brownie recipe adapted Cook's Illustrated)
-makes 16 two-inch brownies

A few notes: I halved the original brownie recipe because I was baking for a smaller crowd, but feel free to make the full lot.  Simply double all of the quantities below; baking time will remain the same.  Finally, feel free to go the semi-homemade route and use your favorite boxed brownie mix for the middle layer.  Bake according to instructions but following the same basic outline below.  And you can still call it homemade ;)

For graham cracker crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For brownies:
2 2/3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
5 Tablespoons boiling water
1 ounces unsweetened chocolate (2 1-ounce squares), finely chopped
2 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
5 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces (1/2 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks, plus handful more

For marshmallow topping: 
15-18 large marshmallows, cut in half (or 1 to 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows)

Position oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving about a one inch overhang on all sides. Spray parchment with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine graham crumbs, sugar, salt, and butter, stirring until all crumbs are moistened.  Pour graham cracker mixture into prepared pan and press into an even layer.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to a wire cooling rack.

Whisk cocoa and boiling water together in a large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled, don't worry.) Add eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix together with a rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips/chunks.  Pour batter into pan over graham cracker crust.

Bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30-35 minutes.  Remove pan and switch oven heat to broil.  Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top of brownies.  Arrange marshmallows in single layer on top of brownies.  Return to broiler and -- watch closely so they don't burn! -- allow to toast and char slightly.  Remove pan to a wire rack to cool completely, roughly 1 1/2 hours.

Using parchment overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares (or larger) and serve. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.  Enjoy!

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