Batter Licker

November 15, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 12 (s’mores brownies)

The night before the night before my wedding, my not-so-reliable pal Sleep totally ditched me. After several hours of anxious waiting, ceiling-staring and clock-cursing, I finally gave up.

So at 3 a.m., I rolled out of bed to start crushing graham crackers for the 12 dozen s’mores brownies I intended to bake in the three different sizes of cupcake liners I had accumulated but not used over the past couple years.

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I broke up the graham crackers by hand, and didn’t stop until the entire box of ’em was crushed.

After all the smashing, I felt more relaxed, and my renewed attempt at sleep proved successful. Thank goodness. Two days before your own wedding and the thousands of photos that will be snapped of you is not the ideal time to not be sleeping.

The next morning, Jay and I jaunted over to Hayes Valley for our Blue Bottle coffee fix, and wandered into Moishe’s Pippic in search of breakfast. I sought something hearty, anticipating that I would be standing on my feet all day while baking, and went with the corned beef sandwich.

Yes, sandwich. Full of meat. With a pickle! For breakfast.

I’m a corned beef nut to begin with, but Moishe’s corned beef was so incredibly tender, moist and flavorful. And not too salty. I remember thinking at the time that this corned beef sandwich was so entirely worth having to pull out the Spanx to fit into my wedding dress. (By some miracle, Spanx weren’t necessary. But I was willing to go there for this particular sandwich.)

After walking off the food coma, I got to making brownie batter. Butter. Sugar. Then mixed in that fancy Valrhona cocoa powder from France.

(This recipe alone totally justifies me using half my suitcase space to haul that cocoa powder back from Paris last September, by the way.)

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I stirred in the eggs and flour until the batter became smooth.

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Cupcake filling party! I filled the cups with a few pieces of broken graham cracker and a couple marshmallows, moderately in proportion to the sizes of the three different cups.

Then I spooned some brownie batter over the graham cracker and marshmallow base. Just 2/3 full so nothing overflows … and so there’s room for more marshmallows on top later.

I baked the brownies until they had about a minute left before they would be done. Then I quickly pulled the pan out of the oven, sprinkled a few marshmallows (or go crazy!) over the top of each brownie, replaced the pan back in the oven, and cranked it up to broil for a minute or two until the marshmallow topping was toasted. Voila!

S’Mores Brownies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Best Cocoa Brownies, which was adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet)
Makes about 2 dozen (i.e., I multiplied by six, and ended up with 12 dozen – 4 dozen mini, 5 dozen regular, and 3 dozen large/muffin-sized)

Why put these in cupcake liners? Easier transportation, and clean serving – no need to chill the brownies or constantly clean a knife under hot water to get a clean cut. Everyone gets one! But if you still want to go with pan brownies, jaunt over to Smitten Kitchen for instructions and cooking time. However, please note that cutting through the marshmallows will make chilling the brownies and cleaning the knife even more necessary to serve these cleanly.

10 Tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process; I used Valrhona)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
about 24 regular-sized cupcake liners
6 full sheets of graham crackers (about 1/4 of a 14-oz. Honey Maid box)
1 bag (10.5 oz.) mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a medium heatproof bowl, melt butter – either in microwave (30-second intervals) or by setting the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir in sugar, cocoa and salt. Either continue microwaving in 30-second intervals or heating bowl in skillet of water, stirring periodically, until the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you need to remove your finger quickly after dipping it in to test the temperature. Set bowl aside for a minute or two until mixture is just warm, not hot. (It will look fairly gritty at this point.)

Stir in vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add flour. Stir until you cannot see any flour, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with a spoon or spatula.

Place a few broken graham crackers and small marshmallows into the bottom of each cupcake liner (amounts will vary depending on the size of the liner). Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges just barely moist with batter, about 10 minutes for minis, 12 to 15 minutes for regular, and 15 to 20 minutes for large/muffin sized.

When brownies are about a minute away from being done, quickly remove from the oven, and sprinkle the top of each with marshmallows (how many or few is up to you!). Immediately return the pan to the oven, crank the oven up to broil, and cook until marshmallow topping is lightly toasted, about 1 or 2 minutes.

Do ahead: Brownies can be baked with marshmallow topping and stored in airtight, refrigerated container for up to 2 days.

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