There aren’t many things that can compete with S’mores when you’re trying to decide what to bring as a dessert on a camping trip. They’re a perfect dessert, sweet, salty, gooey and crunchy, plus you get to play with fire.
So when I was trying to decide on a recipe to make for Erik’s colleagues this weekend, who we just spent the last few nights camping with at Cape Henlopen in Delaware, my original thought was some kind of S’mores-inspired dessert. I wanted something easy to bring with us, so it couldn’t be too fussy, and I feel like I’ve been making way too many cookies lately, so I didn’t want to just make cookies.
Bar cookies seemed like the best solution, but my quick flipping through of my normal cookbooks and NYT didn’t turn anything up that looked quite right. I expanded to brownies more generally, and remembered a recipe a friend had sent me a few months ago for salted pretzel brownies. These fit the bill – there was chocolate and graham crackers (though no marshmallows), so they were kind of s’mores adjacent. And they’re bar cookies, so easy to bring out when making burgers over a campfire.
To start, make the graham cracker pretzel crust. In a food processor, process the graham crackers and pretzels until finely ground.
Add the melted butter and egg white. Pulse until the mixture is the texture of wet sand and press into the bottom of an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350°F until browned at edges and set – about 14 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
While the crust is cooling, make the brownies. In a medium pot over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate until smooth, stirring constantly.
Pour mixture into a large bowl and add the sugar. Mix to combine and set aside to cool for 5 minutes, until just warm to the touch.
Once cooled, whisk in the eggs.
Then whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt.
Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. Spread over the crust in the 8×8 pan.
Press 16 pretzels into the top of the batter. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is set and firm to touch.
Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Let cool in pan completely before using the parchment paper to transfer to a cutting board and cut into 16 squares (one pretzel per square).
These keep pretty well in an airtight container at room temperature, and the pretzels actually did surprisingly well of not becoming too stale.
We have a few left over after the weekend, but I’m attributing that to the fact that the kids on the trip were making s’mores, which I fully understand cannot compete with brownies.
Salted Pretzel Brownies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (120 grams) Graham crackers
- 1/2 cup (30 grams) salted pretzels
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup (60 grams) chocolate chips
- 16 small whole pretzels, for topping
- First, make the crust. In a food processor, blend the graham crackers and pretzels until finely ground.
- Add the melted butter and egg white and pulse to combine.
- Press mixture into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 14 to 17 minutes until edges are deeply brown. Set aside on a wire rack to cool.
- While the crust is cooling, make the brownies. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate, stirring constantly.
- Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl and mix in the sugar. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, until just warm to touch.
- Whisk in the eggs, then whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt.
- Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread the batter in the 8×8 pan over the crust and press the 16 pretzels into the top.
- Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until brownies are set and firm to touch. Allow to cool completely before slicing into 16 bars.