Monday, February 11, 2013

S'more Please

I did a little teaser for the blog on the Vegan in the Middle of Nowhere Facebook page this weekend and after a few busy days, I am ready to share a new baking endeavor with you.

It's winter, which means warm fires, lots of layers for the changing temperatures in West Yellowstone and welcoming many cross-country skiers and outdoor recreationalists to town.

The West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation, a local non-profit organization, sponsors a variety of winter events throughout the winter and this past Saturday wrapped up this season's Spam Cup races. Now, you are probably wondering what a Spam Cup is, but it's not anything too outlandish, just a bunch of Nordic skiers racing to win cans of potted meat that have been decorated to look like one-of-a-kind trophies. We had skiers of all ages come out to participate in the Spam Cup, but the skiing didn't stop there. Saturday was also the Taste of the Trails. The Taste of the Trails is an annual event that invites skiers and snowshoers of all ages and experience levels to participate in a progressive course with four feed stations on the area's Rendezvous Ski Trails. You basically buy a ticket and a trail pass for the day, strap on your snowshoes or skis and go at your leisure to strategically placed stops with appetizers, soups, an entree and best of all, the dessert station at the conclusion of your food-and-frolic journey.

I volunteered to donate a few vegan-friendly desserts to this year's event and spent most of Friday night baking/experimenting in the kitchen. This was a great opportunity (excuse) to try a recipe I stumbled onto online one night. I asked myself what I would want after skiing five kilometers on a sunny, but slightly windy winter afternoon and nothing sounded better than a s'more. It had to be a special s'more though- one that was easy to eat, vegan-friendly and appealing to the masses.

World, please welcome the Inside Out S'mores Brownie Bar! It is quick and feeds a lot of people with the help of using a vegan-friendly and family-sized boxed brownie mix and vegan-friendly marshmallows and graham crackers.

Look at those layers of fudgy chocolate, crunchy graham cracker and gooey and crispy marshmallows!

This inside-out creation welcomes you to indulge in layers of fudgy chocolate, crunchy cinnamon graham crackers and melty, crispy, bubbly marshmallow goodness.

I baked up these s'mores brownie bars by adapting this recipe and using vegan versions of the ingredients. I'm thinking of trying it again with a layer of creamy peanut butter in the middle or even squares of dark chocolate sandwiched in between everything to make a version for chocaholics.

Vegan Inside Out S'mores Brownie Bars:
(serves 20)

... Ready for some late night baking for these s'mores brownie bars!

• 1 
box Betty Crocker FAMILY SIZE (for 9x13" pan) Fudge Brownie (I would recommend buying another smaller box of brownie mix to have on hand because this still wasn’t enough to cover the two brownie layers.)
• Mix
 egg replacer, oil and water called for on brownie mix box
 as directed.
(I also had to adapt the recipe further using the high altitude directions because we’re at almost 6,700 feet in elevation here in West Yellowstone. And, I recommend using Ener-G Egg Replacer for two or three eggs worth for this recipe.)
• 7 
sheets Keebler cinnamon graham crackers

• 2 
cups vegan marshmallows
 -- I recommend using Dandies, which made by Chicago Vegan Foods. Cut up some of the larger marshmallows into smaller pieces for the mallow layer. Dandies can probably be found at health food stores or the specialty section of your grocery story.
nonstick cooking spray

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare Fudge Brownie Mix according to package directions with egg replacer, oil, and water.

Pour half of brownie mixture into pan.

Top with sheets of graham crackers, breaking to fit as necessary.

- Sprinkle marshmallows on top of graham crackers, covering completely.

- Drizzle remaining half of brownie batter over marshmallows.

- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until edges are crisp and center is set.
Remove the bars from oven and let cool for 15 minutes to set completely. Slice into bars and serve.

Step-by-step, layer-by-layer

S'more please!

This is a note from the original version of the recipe: The typical toothpick test won't work for these because of the marshmallow middle, but the top brownies should be solid to the touch, not gooey, when done. Bake for an extra 5 to 10 minutes, if needed for doneness (checking after 5 minutes).

I am still tweaking this recipe because it doesn’t seem like the family size box of brownie mix is still enough for both brownie layers and the bottoms of my brownies were a little tacky after they finished baking. They still tasted fine, but I think they’d be slightly better minus some of the tackiness. Also, the marshmallow layer baked and bubbled A LOT when the bars were in the oven, so just be sure to keep an eye on these guys after they’ve been in the oven for about 20 minutes. They probably won’t be done, but you don’t want your marshmallows bubbling over and jumping ship either. The bubbling layer of marshmallows takes a few minutes to set and should be fine once they are completely cooled.

I was overjoyed to see that only two s’mores bars were sitting on the plate waiting for my two fellow skiing buddies as we made our way to the end of the course and over to the dessert table. The bars were on the table surrounded by my vegan chocolate chip cookies, bread pudding, some gluten-free brownies and cookies that were also donated and other desserts for Saturday’s crowd to enjoy.

There's the s'mores brownie bars and a baker's dozen of classic chocolate chip cookies ready to go to Taste of the Trails.

Happy eating, happy skiing and happy adventures. People might be asking for s’more of these bars as they seem to disappear pretty quickly.

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