Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chewy, Gooey, Sweet & Sticky S'more Cookie Bars . . .


Buzz Lightyear:  " . . . in just a few hours you'll be sitting around a campfire with Andy making nice hot shmoes." 
Woody:  "They're called s'mores, Buzz."     
  -- Toy Story

So, now that it's winding down, let's do a little recap of our summer, shall we? Have a seat and we'll begin.
Did you go to the beach? Yes? Okay, good, check that one off.
Did you watch fireworks for the Fourth of July? Great, check that one too.
Did you eat watermelon outside and spit out the seeds? Check.
Did you pick fresh fruit or veggies at a farm, or from a garden? Check.
Did you take a lot of nice walks? Check.
Did you read at least a couple frivolous and/or trashy novels? Check. Check. Check.
Did you take about a zillion photos of your family and/or kids frolicking in the sun? Check.
Did you assemble and  enjoy your fair share of nice hot shmoes this summer?  . . . What?! You didn't??

Well, don't despair--all is not lost. The fact is, you don't need a campfire or a flaming grill to achieve a reasonable facsimile of the s'mores experience, and you don't even need summertime, truth be told. You can get that ooey, gooey, sticky, chewy vibe any time of year with cookie bars like these. All the requisite ingredients are in there to help replicate the total s'mores taste experience--milk chocolate Hershey bars, graham cracker crumbs, and marshmallow creme.

Just close your eyes as you bite into one of these bars and you'll see what I mean. Wiggle your toes in the imaginary sand while you're munching and listen to the gentle waves lapping the pretend shore . . . just ignore those nonexistent kids who keep whining over there by the invisible picnic table. (Ahh, yes . . .  isn't creative visualization fun?) While it's true s'mores are a critical component of a well rounded summer, it's comforting to know that they can be enjoyed--albeit in a slightly altered incarnation--all year long.

About this recipe . . . 

Of course, if s'mores were never really your thing, you might want to fiddle around with this recipe and do some tweaking. I love s'mores, but I fiddled just a little bit anyway. My main tweak involved the addition of a small amount of coarsely chopped honey-roasted peanuts, and a reduction in the amount of marshmallow creme. But, tweaked or untweaked, these are pretty darn good. Were I to make them again, I think I might ponder using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate to dial down the sweetness factor just a smidgen.

This quick recipe came from the latest issue (September 2010) of Disney Family Fun magazine. Though my kids are not so young anymore, whenever I happen to get my hands on a copy of this, I still flip through it prowling for ideas, and I always look for the recipes. I liked the looks of these bars right away. S'more cookie bars aren't an original concept by any means, but not all formulas are created equal and this was the first one I've seen that I was motivated to make.

I decided to double the recipe and, as I mentioned above, I added in chopped honey-roasted peanuts, sprinkling them over the chocolate layer (just a half cup). I also halved the amount of marshmallow creme indicated, but if you're a maniacal marshmallow lover, go to town and double what I've written in the recipe below; your bars will be insanely gooey, in a good way. I increased the amount of salt slightly (I used kosher salt). I used a 9" x 13" pan, which probably made the bars a little thicker than the original recipe. My batter was too soft to handle in the way that the original recipe indicated (it was a hot day and the butter I used was awfully soft), so I had to adjust accordingly. As usual, I reworded most of the directions.

All in all, these babies were a hit in my house. And, unlike genuine "nice hot shmoes," these can travel quite safely in a lunchbox. (As Buzz Lightyear would say, "To infinity, and beyond!")

S'more Cookie Bars

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 egg, large
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (I used plain honey grahams)
1 and 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
3/4 tsp. salt (I recommend kosher)
2 tsp. baking powder
6 - 1.55 oz. Hershey milk chocolate bars (this is six standard size bars)
1 (7 oz.) jar of marshmallow creme (I used Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme, what I had on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9" x 13" baking pan.

In a large mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract, and beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour all of this into the butter mixture and beat until well mixed.

Spread two-thirds of the batter into the bottom of the pan. If the batter is quite soft, wet your hands with cold water, shake off the excess water, and pat the batter into place. Over this layer, break up the chocolate bars into small pieces and scatter them evenly. Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the chocolate. Spread all of the marshmallow creme on top of this, again using wet hands to urge the creme into place as best you can. (Overall, this will be a messy procedure, but don't worry about it. It doesn't have to look neat.) Spoon dabs of the remaining batter over the top, and spread them out as best you can to cover as much of the marshmallow as possible. Don't worry about gaps.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and the sides of the bars start to pull away from the pan. Let the bars cool in the pan, on a rack, for at least 20 minutes before you attempt to cut into them.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Susi said...

Bookmarked the recipe - check :o) I'm putting those on my absolutely have to make list! My kids will be so thrilled with those. Great recipe Jane, as always :o)

Allison said...

Am I making this recipe tonight? Um, yes I think I am. :)

PopGirl890 said...

Yum, these look soo good! You should try making s'mores cheesecake bars. I made those a while ago and they're soo good.

scrambledhenfruit said...

So good, and you didn't even need a campfire!

Mags said...

Ohhhh.... these make my teeth hurt, but in a good

Yonatan Weic said...

Looks Yummy !
if you would change the crackers with something else, what would you suggest?

Yonatan Weic

Jane said...

Hi Susi,
My kids liked these, luckily. If they hadn't, I'd end up wanting to eat them all myself! I hope yours like them too!
:) Jane

Hello Allison,
Love to hear how your turn/turned out!
Thanks very much,

Hi PopGirl890,
Oh gosh, you know I am a big fan of anything related to cheesecake! Cheesecake s'more bars might send me right over the edge!
;) Jane

Hi Scrambled,
Yep, no campfire requirement at all! No grill. Nothing but an oven. Hah! How easy is that?
Happy baking,
Jane :)

Hi Mags,
Yeah, I know just what you mean! If I'd added as much marshmallow creme as the original recipe indicated my teeth might indeed have hurt!
;) Jane

Dear Yonatan,
Thanks so much for visiting! (I just peeked at your blog and it's really wonderful.) In response to your question, I assume you could substitute more flour for the graham cracker crumbs, or I'll bet you could successfully substitute a mixture of more flour and some type of ground nuts if you prefer a more complex flavor and a little more texture than just the flour would provide (something like almond meal maybe?).
Thanks so much,
Jane :)

Susan said...

Jane, I followed you back from my site and am enchanted--I love your writing and I admire bakers--I do it occasionally, but it is a mysterious talent. I am adding you to my blogroll immediately and look forward to reading much more.

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

These look soo good! I'm totally making them. Love s'mores :)

Mary said...

I can't tell you how good these look to me. I know I'm going to love these. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...MAry

*** said...

I've seen this recipe several places online and have made it a couple times as well. I love it with my soul but the one thing that I can't figure out for the life of me is this:
why is it that people are so hung up on the order of the layers? Honestly, all you have to do it put the mallow creme down first and then add the chocolate bars and you can give the final layer of dough a clean finish without making panels or anything else complicated and time consuming. Just had to get that out.

In other news, these are the only cookies to date that can make me not realize that I've eaten a quarter of the pan until my stomach is in pain. Best. Cookies. Ever.

Jane said...

Hi Susan,
That's really nice of you--thank you for those comments!

Hey there Avanika,
This must sound like a dumb question, but are s'mores an international phenomenon? That is, are they a common treat in India as well as the U.S.?? That would be really cool if they are!
;) Jane

Hi Mary,
Love your blog every time I visit there. Thanks very much for stopping by.
Keep on baking,
Jane :)

Dear *** (what a mysterious name! :),
Yes, yes, I must say I quite agree with you! It really doesn't make much difference at all how you layer the gooey parts of something like this. I figure, as long as all the critical flavors are represented, that's all that's important! Thanks very much for visiting and for your down-to-earth honest comment--I love it!
Best to you,
Jane :)

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

Yum, I'll have 3 or 4 of those, please!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, we had lots of them around the camp fire.
Your cookies are a wonderful way to extend our memorable family vacation. Thanks for sharing.

Marcellina said...

Wow, S'more cookie bars! I had never had "s'more' until earlier this year (they're not known in Australia). We all that they we great even though a bit on the sweet side but lots of fun. These look equally good! Yes, dark choc would be my taste!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What awesome cookie bars! Devilishly chewy and gooey!



Patricia Scarpin said...

These are wonderful, Jane! I love anything with marshmallows... Yum!

Stella said...

It's true! I didn't make smores this summer, but I want to (smile). These s'more bars look delicious, Jane. I would totally break my diet and eat one right now if they were in front of me...

Katrina said...

I love smores!! These look so yummy, I can't wait to try.

Sandie {A Bloggable Life} said...

More cookie bars. Yay! These look phenomenal---can't wait to try the recipe!

Miss. Tarrah Dame said...

I just made these myself. They are sooo good :)

Lindsey Whitney said...

Looks Great!

Jill Warren said...

Delicious - used special dark Hershey's bars and salted cocktail nuts. Hugely popular. Also put the bars briefly in the oven after the marshmallow layer was plopped - took them out and was able to spread the fluff farther.