From the Kitchens of Down Cellar :: S’mores Brownies
If you’re asked to make brownies for a wedding, it’s my belief you can’t just make your run-of-the-mill, I-need-some-chocolate-quick brownies. You can’t just pick any brownie. You’ve got to—as the French say—make it top.
And these? These brownies are top. The bride from the wedding Down Cellar catered in August is a chocolate lover, and given her end-of-summer wedding date—not to mention the killer outdoor fireplace they recently had installed in their beautiful backyard, where the wedding took place—she had a hankering for something that was reminiscent of backyard bonfires and late summer nights. Cue homemade marshmallow fluff, a brownie layer you can sink your teeth into, and graham crackers that knock the store-bought version out of the park—food just really, truly, is better when you do it by hand.
Baker beware: these brownies are a long, multi-step (and multi-day, unless you’ve got considerably more free time than I do) process that requires a lot of ingredients and a lot of butter. They aren’t for the faint of heart, the diabetic, the paleo enthusiast, or the baker looking to throw something together quickly with the ingredients you’ve got lying around. In fact, the ingredients for this recipe might cost you a pretty penny—this is quite possibly the most expensive pan of brownies Down Cellar has made or will ever make.
If you ask me—and the bride, who, the day after her wedding, requested a vat of the fluff to swim around in, with floating islands of graham cracker crunch and brownie bites bobbing by—they are worth every penny.
And calorie, too.
Graham Crackers - adapted loosely from Smitten Kitchen
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup honey
- 5 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Combine the flour, sugar, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the butter and work into the dough quickly with your fingers. Take care to keep the butter cold, and work until it is a coarse meal consistency. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, honey, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add to the flour & butter and mix until the dough barely comes together. Do not overwork the dough. Pat into a 1-inch thick rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator and roll out quickly on a floured counter to 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky. Cut graham cracker shapes (5 x 2 1/2 inches is regulation!) and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, at least one inch apart. They will expand slightly in the oven. Chill until firm, about 45 minutes. If you are making s’mores with your graham crackers, you can use a wooden skewer to press a design into the dough: one line for breaking the cracker in half, and a few dots made with the blunt end for good measure. If you’re making graham cracker crunches and crust for these brownies, don’t bother—unless you, like me, feel the need to make them anyway, in order to get a better photograph. Sorry I’m not sorry.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and bake until brown and slightly firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. The graham crackers will harden as they cool; I found it’s best to cook low & slow for maximum crunchiness. I’ll let you in on a little secret, too: I
accidentally overcooked let a few of mine go a bit past the browned stage, and it gave the brownies that nice cooked flavor that we all want in a s’more—especially since the fluff (coming right up!) was kept pretty & white for presentation. Gotta get the carcinogens somewhere, I always say.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 3 cups finely ground graham crackers
- 10 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, crumbs, sugar, and salt quickly, in a food processor if possible. I’m still rocking my Magic Bullet, so we did this in batches. We noticed that the consistency of the crust was a little dry, which would have resulted in crumbly crust that just doesn’t hold up, so we had to add quite a bit more butter than the 10 tablespoons we started with—the amount of butter you need will largely depend on how crunchy/dry your graham crackers are, so feel it out. If the crust seems dry, like it won’t hold together, add more butter, bit by bit, until you can squeeze the crumbs into a form & it holds together. We ended up using around 20 tablespoons of butter (20 tablespoons of butter notwithstanding, I still think they’re worth it. Told you they weren’t for the faint of heart!), which made the mixture very moist, and resulted in a firm, candy-like crust as the bottom layer of the brownies.
Once you’ve achieved proper buttery saturation, firmly press the mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan and bake until crust is fragrant and golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely before adding the brownie layer & rebaking.
Check out Down Cellar’s fluff recipe here, & maybe make yourself a rice krispy treat while you’re at it—or don’t, cuz these brownies are going to satisfy whatever sweet tooth you have. I’ll guarantee it.
Brownies - adapted from Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter
- 1/2 pound plus 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 scant tablespoon instant coffee granules (optional, but it’s got a zing to it)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/8 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 plus 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- remaining graham crackers, roughly chopped
- one batch marshmallow fluff
I use an adaptation of Ina Garten’s “Outrageous Brownies” because I think they come out exactly like what you always hope a brownie will taste like. I love the use of cocoa powder & oil over unsweetened baking chocolate, because I think it adds a further richness to the brownie. Feel free to substitute your favorite brownie recipe, as this one is quite the doozy in the ingredients department.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter, 1/2 pound of chocolate chips, unsweetened cocoa powder, and vegetable oil in a double boiler. Allow to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, stir the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
Sift 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking powder, and the salt into a medium bowl. Add to the cooled chocolate. Toss the chopped graham crackers and the remaining chocolate chips in the 1/8 cup flour, and then fold into the brownie batter. As with any baked good that is full o’ chunks, this step is a crucial one, or else your chunks will all sink to the bottom. Tossing the chocolate chips & graham cracker chunks in flour prevents sinkage, and means your brownie layer will be delightfully (& evenly) textured.
Pour batter into the prepared baking dish, on top of the graham cracker crust. You may need to nudge some graham cracker chunks around to get them to lie evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove, and rap the pan against the counter to force the air out. Spread the marshmallow fluff on top of the brownies, carefully—it’s very easy to tear the brownie layer at this stage, because it is still slightly undercooked. Return to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes, and remove promptly. The fluff will have puffed up, but should still be fairly light in color. If you generally prefer your backyard s’mores on fire, you may place under a broiler, but be careful! The fluff expands more the higher it is heated, in my experience, so unless you have a lot of space between your broiler element/flame & your rack, you might have a mess on your hands.
Allow the brownies to cool completely, and cut into squares. I cut 32 brownies from the 9x13 pan, and I wouldn’t make them any bigger than that. These babies are rich. I mean, at $75 retail for a pan, they’ve gotta be.