I grew up spending many of our summer holidays camping throughout Canada and the US. Over the years, we camped in and around Ontario, from Toronto to the East Coast, from Toronto to the West Coast and from Toronto all the way down to Florida. In fact, my parents enjoyed camping so much that one of our two family cars was a 1990’s Volkswagon Westfalia camper!
Fast forward 3 decades and, as a result of our high school friends, camping is still alive and well as an annual tradition. Every August, 5 to 6 families, with a total of 12+ kids between us, get together for a camping weekend getaway. Unfortunately, I had to miss the weekend getaway because of work this year. But it didn’t stop me from reminiscing about my age-old favourite camping treat, smores! Here’s my twist on the fireside treat – smores brownies! The meringue topping is light and fluffy and the rich chocolate brownie is soft and moist. The graham cracker base brings the perfect balance of sweet and savoury to every bite.
GRAHAM CRACKER BASE
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup butter (melted)
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup butter cut into small cubes
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp premium cocoa
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 3 egg whites at room temperature
- 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit and line a 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Spray with cooking spray or lightly butter the inside of the parchment paper. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, salt and melted butter together. Press the mixture into the baking pan and flatten with the back of a cup or bowl to even out. Bake the graham cracker crust in the oven for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the baking pan from the oven and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fareinheit.
Mix the flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl and set aside.
Using a paddle attachment on your mixer, beat the cubes of butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and continue beating on medium speed until well mixed and the sugar is thoroughly incorporated into the butter. Beat the eggs separately and slowly dribble the beaten eggs into the mixture while mixing at low speed. While still mixing, add the vanilla extract.
In a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate pieces on low heat while stirring. Once melted, remove from the heat and gradually pour the melted chocolate into the mixing bowl while mixing at medium-low speed. Reduce to low speed and gradually add the flour, salt and cocoa mixture until thoroughly incorporated.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 Farenheit and check readiness by inserting a toothpick into the middle. The brownies are ready when the toothpick emerges mostly clean. Remove the brownies from the oven and set aside to cool.
To create the meringue topping, whisk the room temperature egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking until the egg whites form a foamy and stiff texture. Gradually add the confectioners sugar while whisking at low speed at first, then medium speed once all of the sugar has been incorporated. Add the vanilla extract. When the mixture forms stiff peaks, pour the meringue into the pan to cover the cooled brownies.
Spread the meringue mixture with the back of a spoon and place in the oven. Broil for 1 minute (or until the peaks of meringue start browning) to achieve a toasted meringue top. Be careful to watch the meringue closely so that it doesn’t burn.
Remove the brownies from the oven and set aside to cool. As a tip, it’s easier to cut the smores brownies if the dessert is cool. Consider putting the brownies into the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, overnight (or for a few hours). You can cut the brownies after removing them from the fridge and let the brownies warm to room temperature.