Pumpkin S’mores Bars

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get enough pumpkin. I can’t imagine what October through December is like for people who don’t like it, not necessarily because they’re missing out, but because they must be so annoyed by pumpkin everything persistently popping up in every aspect of their lives. I have a friend who’s allergic to pumpkin, as well as all other squashes, and I truly pity her during this time of year.

I guess the one good thing about pumpkin haters is that it means more for me. And with amazing pumpkin treats like these Pumpkin S’mores Bars, why would I ever want to share? These are like the love child of good old-fashioned pumpkin pie and s’mores, taking the best qualities from each. The filling is creamy and studded with all those warm fall spices. It tastes almost identical to the custard that fills pumpkin pie. Then, the filling is layered atop tender, chewy graham cracker cookie, and buried beneath melty milk chocolate and gooey toasted marshmallows. All these magnificent flavors act as a team. They work together, each bringing something delicious to the table, and creating an entity that’s even better together than individually.

Basically, these Pumpkin S’mores Bars are the definition of ooey and gooey. There’s really no better way to describe them. They’re pure messy, gooey goodness in the best possible way. Be prepared to get your hands messy when eating these spiced pumpkin stuffed s’mores. All that good stickiness is well worth it.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Mini marshmallows make cutting the bars much easier and less messy.
  2. Prefer dark chocolate over milk? Go for it!
  3. The graham cracker cookie base is the same recipe for my Homemade Brown Sugar Graham Crackers and slightly adapted Pumpkin Pie Spice Graham Crackers, a must-make!
  4. These are great warmed up in the microwave and topped with ice cream.
  5. Telling when these are done is a bit tricky, because if you use the toothpick test, you’re going to get goo from the chocolate and pumpkin, and won’t be able to tell if the cookie is done. Trust your instincts. You can tell by how a knife feels sinking into the cookie layer.
  6. You will have extra dough. This isn’t a bad thing because you can make it into graham crackers!

Pumpkin S’mores Bars
Graham Cracker Cookie Base adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures who adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones; rest of recipe by The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

For the Graham Cracker base

  • Heaping 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups graham flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey

For the topping & filling

  • 5 1.55-oz. milk chocolate bars (like Hersheys)
  • 1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Half a 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Whisk both flours, the baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and honey on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes (scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary). With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and beat just until the dough comes together.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides.
  3. Reserve 1/3 of the dough. Form the remaining dough into a disk and place in baking dish. Flatten out into an even layer. Lay the candy bars over top in an even layer, breaking them apart as necessary so they fit the whole pan and cover the pumpkin completely.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, granulated sugar, and sweetened condensed milk. Pour over top the graham cracker layer and smooth out. Bake for 20 minutes then sprinkle marshmallows over top and bake for another 10 minutes, or until marshmallows are browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs.
  5. Let cool on wire rack for 20 minutes then use the parchment paper to lift out the bars and let cool completely. Slice and enjoy.
  6. With the extra dough, you can roll it out, cut it out, and bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes for homemade graham crackers; or, you can freeze it for later use.

S’mores Rice Krispie Treats

One thing that bothers me to no end is people who judge me for embracing my inner kid from time to time. Yes, I’m 18, going to be 19 in less than a month, but does that mean I need to buy some granny panties and get them in a bunch over every little thing? No. It most certainly does not.

No matter what your age, there is a young spirit in you somewhere. And choosing to repress it 24/7 may cause you to miss out every now and then. You are no better than I just because you don’t watch Disney movies anymore. Being an adult doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy pancakes with a smiley face made from whipped cream & bananas, nor does it mean you can’t watch an episode or two of Spongebob. The kid in us is quite possibly the best part of us. It’s the part that still remembers what it’s like to be carefree. No, you don’t need to lose all sense of maturity and parade around like an irresponsible 4 year-old, but enjoying a Happy Meal or looking at a couple of cute kittens from time to time is not going to kill you.

I have one thing to say to the people who think being adult means you can never act like a kid: loosen up; eat a Rice Krispie Treat.

See, that’s the other problem. People have this idea of “adult food.” Rice Krispie Treats don’t really fall under that category. Instead, we eat aspargus and liver, and that’s all fine and dandy. But who said I can’t enjoy a box of Lucky Charms every now and then (besides my metabolism)? If I’m craving a kid-friendly treat, then I’m going to eat it. You can put age limits on all the stuff you want, if you must. But don’t even try to tell me there’s an age limit on food.

So today, I am bringing together a homemade version of the childhood favorite snack, Rice Krispie Treats, with the greatest childhood summertime treat, s’mores. The result is an insanely delicious ooey, gooey snack packed with marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers, and those crackling Rice Krispies. But, since we are adults after all, I sneaked in something more sophisticated too: browned butter. This stuff is liquid gold in the culinary world: rich, nutty, and deep in flavor.

Enjoy the iconic flavor of the s’mores you loved as a child with the beloved gooey, crispy texture of Rice Krispie treats. It’s the perfect way to bring out your inner kid.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. If you have a Wegman’s, you should definitely pick up the S’mores Snack Mix I used in the recipe. If you don’t, never fear! I also provided ingredients to achieve the exact same effect.
  2. It’s super easy to double this recipe to feed a party or crowd.
  3. You don’t have to cut it like a pie like I did. You can stick to regular squares if that’s more your style.
  4. Browning the butter is not detrimental to the Rice Krispie Treats turning out, but it really amplifies the flavor.
  5. Never browned butter before? Don’t be afraid! It sounds a lot fancier than it is. All you do is cook butter until it turns golden brown. Bam.

S’mores Rice Krispie Treats

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 10-oz. package big marshmallows
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup S’mores Snack Mix (find it at Wegman’s) -OR- 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips + 1/3 cup Golden Grahams Cereal + 1/3 cup Jet Puffed Mallow Bites
  • 2 graham crackers, broken into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Line two 8×8 cake pans with parchment paper. Spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook until butter turns golden brown & forms brown specks. It should taste nutty. Do not over cook.
  3. Add the marshmallows and stir continuously until completely melted. Turn off heat and stir in the Rice Krispies. Add the s’mores snack mix (or chips, golden grahams, and mallow bites) and mix gently just until incorporated.
  4. Pour into prepared pans, distributing evenly. Use waxed paper (or spray your hands with nonstick spray) to press krispies down in an even layer. Press graham cracker pieces onto top and let set, about 20 minutes. Lift the treats out of the pan and slice. Store in an air-tight container.


Gooey Reese’s Banana S’mores Bars

A traditional s’mores consists of three essential building blocks that, when melted together over a roaring fire, equate to dessert perfection. It’s a holy trinity of ingredients. On their own, they’re awesome. Together, they’re unstoppable.

Besides those three magic ingredients, there is another reason why we all love s’mores so much. When you bite into that crunchy graham cracker, straight through to the gooey marshmallow and melted chocolate, it’s impossible not to be transported back to summers past. Growing up, summer was an endless era of carefree bliss. We had no responsibilities; we were not yet weighed down by the weight of the world. And on those warm summer nights, we would flock around campfires with our marshmallow sticks in hand, and we would toast those sugary-sweet pillows until charred and molten. Then we’d violently smoosh the marshmallows between graham crackers and Hershey’s milk chocolate. There was something so satisfying about taking that first bite and watching the crackers crumble as the melted chocolate and marshmallows came oozing out the sides.

Nowadays, a bite of a s’more still has the power to send us reeling back to those sweet summer nights. Although summers aren’t quite the same now as an adult, we can still take enjoyment in fun and delicious summer foods. These Gooey Reese’s Banana S’mores Bars are a twist on the campfire classic we all love. However, there’s no campfire required!

These babies are easy to put together and just need a quick bake in the oven. That means you can have these all year-round, and be taken back to childhood bonfires any time you want! Although these bars have all the flavors that send your mind straight to s’mores, they also have a few extra bells and whistles.

For one, I’ve replaced the tried and true Hershey’s milk chocolate with Reese’s Cups so you get that sweet & salty, chocolate-peanut butter magic. And then we’ve got fresh, ripe bananas who’s mellow, sweet flavor pairs absolutely perfectly with the peanut butter and chocolate. Couple that with the chewy, soft graham cookie base and ooey, gooey marshmallow Fluff for pure s’mores heaven.

Everything melts together so well; you’ll wonder why you’ve never had a s’more like this before.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Ripe bananas work best.
  2. You can skip the Reese’s and stick to regular milk chocolate if you like.
  3. White chocolate Reese’s would be delightful too!
  4. These are much easier to cut after refrigeration.
  5. Check out my classic version for Peanut Butter S’mores Bars here.
  6. You can buy Reese’s in a convenient 6-pack (therefore equating to the 12 cups required for the recipe).

Gooey Reese’s Banana S’mores Bars
Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 6 whole crackers)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 Reese’s Cups
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1 cup marshmallow creme (like Fluff)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out afterward. Spray the foil and pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients gradually, beating just until the dough comes together.
  3. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, reserving 1/2 cup to use for the topping. Gently press the dough into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. If the bananas are ripe enough, you should be able to spread them over the dough like butter. If not, slice them into coins and spread them out in a single layer over the dough. Top the bananas with a single layer of the Reeese’s cups.Gently spread the marshmallow creme over the cups. Top with the reserved dough, crumbling over the marshmallow creme.
  4. Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Lift from the pan using the foil “handles” and refrigerate until cool and stiff before cutting. You can pop the bars into the microwave for a few seconds before eating to achieve ooey gooey goodness.


Peanut Butter S’mores Bars

Sometimes, I can be a big pain in the butt.

Scratch that. Most of the time, I can be a big pain in the butt.

The good news is, I realize this, and I try to remedy it when I can. For example, I recently got some some bright purple highlights underneath my hair, and I was a little difficult for my hairdresser to deal with. You see, I’m a perfectionist, and I wanted it just right. My hairdresser, however, is so unbelievably patient and sweet. She made my hair perfect, and she was nothing but kind throughout the process. I think she may be the nicest hairdresser on the planet.

My new hair

So, in an attempt to make amends, I did what I do best: I made her food. My hairdresser has been extremely supportive about my website, so I figured it was about time she got to try some of my eats. I whipped up these Peanut Butter S’mores Bars and presented them as a means of saying, “Thank you for dealing with me.” There are only a few people in this world who do deal with me, and I very much appreciate all of them.

It’s not an easy job.

I may be difficult and complicated, but these bars sure aren’t. They’re super simple to put together but, my god, are they good! The base is a softy, chewy layer of peanut butter-swirled graham cookie. I absolutely love the texture. It’s sturdy enough to hold, but soft enough to melt in your mouth. You get that hint of graham cracker flavor plus the salty peanut butter, and that alone is incredible. But then, the cookie layer is topped with pure milk chocolate. It’s creamy smoothness pairs perfectly with the salty, chewy cookie layer. Next, the bars are adorned with ooey, gooey marshmallow Fluff, which bakes up to the exact texture of a toasted marshmallow. Finish the bars off with a final crumble of the cookie dough, and you’ve got yourself something magical.

Combine all these wonderful layers, and you get the irresistible flavors of a s’more, plus salty peanut butter, all in one delicious bar. So many textures come into play: chewy, gooey, smooth…and it all works together perfectly. If you like s’mores, you will love these bars. They’re so good, you won’t be able to eat just one!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Leave out the peanut butter to get classic s’mores bars.
  2. These are great for parties, get-togethers, or picnics.
  3. Here’s another way to get peanut butter flavor in these bars: instead of adding PB to the cookie dough, leave it out and replace the Hershey bars with Reeses Cups.

Peanut Butter S’mores Bars
Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, who adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 5 whole crackers)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, frozen
  • 5 milk chocolate candy bars, 1.55 oz each (like Hershey’s)
  • 1 cup marshmallow creme (like Fluff)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out afterward. Spray the foil and pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients gradually, beating just until the dough comes together. Drop the peanut butter in in spoonfuls. Turn the mixer on low speed just until peanut butter is distributed.
  3. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, reserving 1/2 cup to use for the topping. Gently press the dough into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Top the crust with the candy bars (you’ll have to break them up and shingle them to create a single layer). Gently pread the marshmallow creme over the chocolate bars. Top with the reserved dough, crumbling over the marshmallow creme.
  4. Bake the bars for about 25 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Lift from the pan using the foil “handles” and cut into squares for serving. (note: bars are easier to cut after refrigeration). You can pop the bars into the microwave for a few seconds before eating to achieve ooey gooey goodness.


Banana S’mores Cream Pie + Video

For weeks, a box of graham cracker crumbs has been mockingly staring at me from the inside of the pantry. Every time I went in there for something, I saw the smug box taunting me as it cackled, “You’ll never think of something to do with me! I’m going to sit in here for weeks and go stale! HAHAHAHA!” And each time the graham cracker crumbs and I came face to face, I became more and more frustrated. The pressure was mounting to find a good use for the crumbs before the little beasts went stale and laughed at me with their smug satisfaction.

All hope was not lost. I knew the most obvious thing to do with graham cracker crumbs would be to make a pie, but none of the flavors I thought of were exciting enough. A s’mores pie crossed my mind. I knew it would only be fitting with a graham cracker crust. But that idea still seemed lackluster. I needed something better, and those stupid graham cracker crumbs knew it.

“Haha, you’re running out of time! You suck at life!”

I tuned out the taunting words of the graham cracker crumbs and remembered of one of my favorite pies ever: banana cream pie. All of a sudden, it was as if the thought containing the banana cream pie and the thought containing the s’mores pie rammed into each other in a head-on collision. When the dust cleared, I was left not with a massacre but with a new and improved hybrid: Banana S’mores Pie.

Imagine having everything you love about a s’more and banana cream pie piled in one pan, and this dessert is what you get. Buttery graham cracker crust is filled with layers of smooth milk chocolate ganache, fresh banana slices, and mounds of luscious banana cream. Then the whole beautiful thing is crowned with a layer of marshmallows which are promptly roasted and toasted with a kitchen torch so they taste fresh from the campfire. You really get all the flavors of both desserts in this pie, and wow, do they come together beautifully.

The myriad of tastes and textures melt into one harmonic entity. Banana and s’mores are as complementary as chocolate and peanut butter. It just works. You get a little bit of love from both the banana cream pie and the s’mores in every slice. It’s a marriage like no other, creating a relationship so passionate that you may just want stick your entire face in the pie.

Or maybe that’s just me.

*One disclaimer: This pie looks pretty in the pan, but you won’t get a pretty slice out of it. The cream and ganache don’t hold their form entirely when slice. They kind of just become a pile of deliciousness. The only reason I have a picture of a clean slice above is because I froze it first. Don’t worry about that though, because it tastes like heaven!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Watch my video to learn how to make this baby step by step!
  2. Use caution when working with a kitchen torch:
    -Tie your hair back.
    -Work slowly and carefully.
    -Keep one eye on the torch and another on the look out for flames that may spark up. Marshmallows love to set afire.
    -Don’t work on a highly flammable surface.
  3. You can easily make this pie a day in advance from when you plan to serve it.
  4. The pie needs to be prepped the day before and then chilled for at least 4 hours once assembled, so plan ahead!
  5. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, toast the marshmallows in the oven set to broil then sprinkle them over the pie.
  6. Use mini marshmallows. Big marshmallows = big mess.
  7. If you chill your mixing bowl before whipping the cream, it will whip much faster.

Banana S’mores Cream Pie
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Note: This pie takes 2 days to make. You must make the pudding the night before so it can infuse with the bananas.

Ingredients:

For the Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For the Banana Cream Filling

  • 1 package Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix (not Cook & Serve)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 ripe bananas

For the topping

  • 3 cups mini marshmallows

Special Equipment: kitchen torch

Directions:

  1. Make the filling: Prepare the pudding according to box directions. Slice 1 banana. Gently stir the slices into the pudding. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Once pudding has been properly chilled, use a fork to fish out the banana slices, removing as little pudding as possible. Discard the bananas.
  3. Place the pudding back in the fridge. Pour 1 cup heavy cream into a large mixing bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks form (don’t overbeat or you’ll have butter). Remove pudding from fridge and fold into whipped cream until evenly combined. Cover and store in fridge.
  4. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, mix all crust ingredients until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch pie pan. Use your fingers to shape it to the pan. Make it flat and even. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until crust just begins to brown around the edges. Set aside to cool.
  5. Make the Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the cream into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, making sure it does not boil. The cream should be very hot. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cover and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.
  6. Pour ganache into the graham cracker crust until it is 1/3 full. Cover and refrigerate crust until ganache is set, about 30 minutes. You can speed this up by freezing if you like. Store any extra ganache in the fridge for topping later.
  7. While ganache is chilling, slice two bananas. Set aside.
  8. Remove crust from fridge. Lay bananas a top ganache in a single even layer. Remove the banana filling from the fridge and pour over top banana slices until crust is full. Spread out evenly and gently. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or longer.
  9. After pie has chilled, sprinkle the marshmallows over top in an even layer, covering as much of the filling as possible. Use a kitchen torch to toast the marshmallows until your desired darkness. Be cautious when using the torch.
  10. Let marshmallows cool then drizzle with extra ganache and serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.