School’s out and summer is finally here. What better way to celebrate than with a fun twist on a classic summer treat? I am so excited to have my first year of Dental School behind me and to spend some quality time catching rays, running and indulging in my favorite pastime, baking. I have been a baking fiend in the four days since school ended and I definitely don’t plan to stop anytime soon. I have had this recipe bookmarked ever since I saw it in Food and Wine magazine a few months ago. After enjoying a few too many bites, I can say that it was worth the wait.
I am a bit obsessed with s’mores and I think it is mostly because they are such a nostalgic dessert. No matter the time of year, the smell of roasting marshmallows reminds me of childhood summers. As a kid, I loved to cook, but didn’t really get involved in too much beyond my EasyBake Oven. Even though making a s’more is a pretty simple endeavor, I always felt like I hit the jackpot when I got to roast my own marshmallow and build my s’more just how I liked it (with extra chocolate, of course). I guess pleasing a five-year-old is pretty easy!
Now, no family vacation is complete without s’mores and over the years I have tried several variations involving the same beloved ingredients. These bars are by far my favorite variation yet. I mean just look at that pillowy marshmallow cloud atop fudgy brownie and graham cracker crust. How could you not drool? They are slightly involved to make, but if you spread out the components over an afternoon, or even over two days, it is not bad at all. Or you could be like me and just make the whole thing in a few hours because you can’t possibly wait any longer to sink your teeth into one.
If you’re planning a fourth of July party and don’t feel like dealing with an open fire pit, these bars would be a perfect alternative to s’mores. Or you could just make them to cure a bad day, to satisfy a chocolate craving, or to celebrate finishing the longest school year ever!
- 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhand on two sides. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mix all of the crust ingredients until combined. Press the crumbs evenly into your baking dish and bake for 8-10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Let cool completely! Leave the oven on.
- In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour until just incorporated. Spread the batter evenly over the cooled crust and bake for about 25 minutes, until the edge is set, but the center is still slightly jiggly. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. You can pop the dish into the fridge or freezer to speed up the process!
- You can leave your oven on, but I suggest turning it off for about an hour while the brownie cools and then preheating it to 350 degrees F again. In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with the sugar until the whites are warm and the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Transfer the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until firm. Increase the speed to high and beat the meringue until stiff and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes. Mound the meringue on top of the filling, swirling it decoratively with a butter knife or spatula. Turn your oven to broil and broil the meringue 8 inches from the heat, until lightly browned at the tips, 1-2 minutes. Watch closely so it doesn't burn! If you're lucky enough to own a kitchen torch you could use that too! Cut into bars and serve.
- The bars can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.