Tuesday, October 22, 2013

S'mores Brownies

There is something so wonderful and nostalgic about s'mores.  And how can you resist brownies?  I have been thinking about making s'mores brownies forever and ever.  I kept thinking through recipes and coming up with different brownie alternatives - using marshmallow fluff instead of mini marshmallows, graham cracker crust versus no graham cracker crust...  And then every time it came down to it I ended up going with something else.  But this past weekend we were supposed to bring dessert to a friend's apartment and I FINALLY made my s'mores brownies.  I ended up going with the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker even though I second and third guessed her brownie recipe.  The idea of adding boiling water to cocoa powder and then throwing in chunks of bittersweet chocolate at the very end was seemed totally bizarre to me.  But I did it anyway because in the end, why not?  I was going to make the Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies from Baking Illustrated, but I didn't feel like modifying the recipe for a 9x13x2 pan.  And once I realized that the base recipe from Brown Eyed Baker was from Cook's Illustrated I decided to go with it.

These brownies might be my new favorite brownie recipe.  And they are probably the best thing I have ever baked and brought into work.  A few of my coworkers and I are obsessed with the combination of salty and sweet flavors.  I was a little worried that the brownies would be too sweet, but they had an ideal level of saltiness and sweetness.  Once these brownies had sat around for a day the balance of flavors with the saltiness and the sweetness got even better.  And the day after that the balance of flavors evolved even more.  Of course I made sure to taste them every day to ensure that they aged well.  Bad for the waistline, but so very delicious. 

Recipe after the jump!

S'mores Brownies
Adapted (slightly) from Brown Eyed Baker

For the Graham Cracker Crust:
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Brownies:
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1½ teaspoons instant espresso (optional)
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2½ cups (17½ ounces) sugar
1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into ½-inch pieces

mini marshmallows
additional graham crackers, broken into pieces
handful semisweet chocolate chips for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13x2 pan with foil, leaving some overhang, and then butter the foil; set aside.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt, mixing well. Add the melted butter and, using a fork, toss until the entire mixture is moist. Dump the graham cracker mixture into the prepared baking pan, pressing it into an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, whisk cocoa, espresso powder, and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.

Pour the brownie batter over the cooked graham cracker crust, spreading it into an even layer. Bake the brownies for 25 minutes.  Then top with a single layer of mini-marshmallows.  Return the brownies to the oven for another 5-8 minutes.  You want the marshmallows to urn golden and melty (but not charred and desiccated) and the brownies to be cooked through (when you test them with a toothpick it should come out with a few brownie crumbs on it, but no batter).

As soon as the pan comes out of the oven, top the marshmallow layer with the pieces of graham cracker and a handful of chocolate chips, pressing down slightly so that the graham cracker and chocolate chips get nestled into the melted marshmallow.

Cool completely and then cut into squares. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

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