the butter lab's s'mores brownies
Usually the idea of taking something as perfect as a s’more and turning it into something that isn’t a s’more doesn’t make much sense to me and sounds like a waste of time. But this summer, for whatever reason, I felt compelled to make a s’mores brownie. An initial google search produced an ungodly number of random recipes. Clearly, what was needed was not just any s’mores brownie, but a really, really good one.
Months later, I’m finally here with this. It’s mostly a riff off of two of Mindy Segal’s recipes, her Blondie Butterscotch S’mores and Barter Brownies, each excellent in its own right. I use her graham cracker shortbread from the former and her brownie recipe from the latter. The shortbread is made with brown butter and a good amount of salt which not only brings out the graham cracker flavor, but balances out the sweetness of the brownies. The brownies themselves, as Mindy describes them, do the impossible by being both fudgy and cakey. That’s exactly what’s needed here since a richer, denser brownie like this one would be too much.
I tried out a few different marshmallow toppings. I made marshmallows from scratch, including Mindy’s whiskey ones (pictured above); they were delicious, but too much work for this particular recipe. I tried Deb Perelman’s marshmallow-like frosting and Fluff from the jar. But the best option was also the easiest: jumbo store-bought marshmallows lined up in neat little rows and broiled until melted and golden. Or charred, as you wish.
The Butter Lab’s S’mores Brownies
Adapted from “Blondie Butterscotch S’mores” and “Barter Brownies” from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal.
The brown butter needs to chill for 30 minutes, and the shortbread needs to chill for at least two hours. Once the brownies are baked, it’s important to let them cool in the pan and then refrigerate for an hour (if possible). Cutting the brownies will be messy no matter what, but too gooey without sufficient cooling.
Makes 24 bars.
GRAHAM CRACKER SHORTBREAD
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter
7 graham crackers, ground in a food processor (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (78 grams) fine crumbs)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (74 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (71 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (56.5 grams) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (64% to 72% cacao), broken into pieces
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (198 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (21 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows (not mini)
MAKE GRAHAM CRACKER SHORTBREAD:
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and cook until the milk solids have fallen to the bottom of the pot and turned golden brown and fragrant like toasted nuts, about 10 minutes. Pour the butter into a heatproof bowl and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until the butter is solid like shortening at room temperature, approximately 30 minutes.
Transfer the butter to a stand mixer or an electric mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the sugar and mix on low speed to incorporate. Cream on medium speed until aerated, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. On medium speed, add the egg and vanilla and mix for 20 to 30 seconds until nearly homogenous.
In a bowl, whisk together the flours, salts, and 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (78 grams) graham cracker crumbs. Add this to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, about 1 minute. Do not overmix. Bring the dough completely together by hand, form into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
Butter a 9x13 inch pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the long sides. Butter the parchment paper. Use your fingers to break apart the shortbread into pieces and press the pieces evenly into the pan.
MAKE BROWNIE LAYER:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Set up a double boiler with a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (making sure the bowl does not touch the water). Melt the chocolate and butter in the bowl, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. Keep warm.
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or an electric mixer, mix the sugars on low speed to combine. Add the warm chocolate mixture and mix to combine. Scrape down the bowl. On medium speed, add the eggs and vanilla, mixing briefly between each egg. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds until nearly homogenous.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, about 20 seconds. Do not overmix. Pour the brownie mixture over the shortbread crust and bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until a crust appears on the top and a toothpick inserted in the center draws out wet crumbs, 30-35 minutes.
ADD MARSHMALLOWS AND FINISH:
Remove the pan from the oven, position a rack 6 inches from the top, and set the oven to broil. Carefully arrange marshmallows lengthwise in neat rows on top of the brownies (you may have some marshmallows leftover). Broil just until marshmallows are golden and toasted (or charred in some places)—a few seconds or up to a minute, depending on your oven. Keep the oven door ajar and watch like a hawk. The marshmallows can easily burn and/or catch fire!
Cool completely in the pan and refrigerate for an hour before cutting. Serve at room temperature. The brownies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.