September is a tough month for me. Not to be dramatic, but it's basically a month of disappointed dreams. The onset of September conjures up visions of pristinely sharped pencils and unmarked new notebooks, walking home from the bus stop in shoes that are still being broken in while a few stray golden-orange leaves blow across the sidewalk, and a friendly nip in the air that says, "Wake up! Look alive! It's FALL!!" In reality? September 1st usually finds me sweating through new jeans I've stubbornly worn despite the fact that they won't be seasonally appropriate until it drops another 20-30 degrees, and nary a golden leaf in sight. Sigh.
In my mind, September connotes a kind of reawakening or rebirth that most people probably associate with spring. Fitzgerald feels me:
"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." - The Great Gatsby
However, I think the sad truth is that Mindy Kaling was more on point in this astute tweet:
[moment of silence for resigned sighs and pouting]
But that doesn't mean we can't GET READY for fall! I mean, pumpkin spice lattes have been available at your friendly neighborhood Starbucks since August. I don't think we're being too premature here, relatively speaking, if we start building the anticipation now for when fall truly arrives sometime mid-October.
In the interest of building anticipation, I like to wait until October to officially break out the pumpkin. But in the meantime, I say we warm up with some s'mores.
S'mores fit perfectly into the scene of our autumnal dreams. We're sitting around a campfire in our friend's backyard, blankets around our shoulders, firelight flickering and flames crackling, fingers sticky with roasted marshmallow guts that we greedily pulled off with bare hands instead of sandwiching between the layers of an actual s'more.
Can you feel the firelight heating your cheeks? I can.
S'mores are perfect inspiration for summer-to-fall transition treats. Just as easily as we can pull up images of those crisp autumn evenings cuddled around a campfire, we can reminisce about summer nights singing songs around the closing bonfire at sleep-away camp, setting marshmallows on fire with cabin mates we befriended despite the disconcerting arsonist inclinations they sometimes displayed.
Actually, I never did that. But maybe you did! And it's still a nice scenario to picture, isn't it? Well, it is if you leave out the mosquitos. And how sweaty the heat from the fire makes you when it's already sweltering outside. And how the chocolate melts in your fingers before you even add your charred marshmallow. And how annoying that wannabe John Mayer counselor's acoustic guitar is.
So, actually, it sounds kinda terrible. See? This is why fall is better.
These blondies are about as easy to assemble as s'mores. (And arguably safer, sans stray sparks from your arsonist cabin mate's flaming marshmallow torch.) After preparing your favorite blondie batter (ours is, of course, Joy's brown butter blondies), you layer half the batter + graham crackers + one jar of marshmallow fluff + two king size Hershey's bars + the rest of the blondie batter. A half an hour in the oven later, you're rewarded with a chewy, buttery s'mores bar leagues beyond anything that emerged from your summer camp bonfire.
And now for a surprise!
In addition to daydreaming about autumn and making s'mores, Audrey and I have also collaborated on a new The Batter Thickens project! Audrey was commissioned by her school newspaper to make a baking "How To" video, so we filmed ourselves giving Very Expert instruction on how to make these s'mores blondies. The video is below.
We're kinda excited about this new element of The Batter Thickens, as it's something we've toyed with doing for a while but wasn't really practical until Molly moved back home. Making this first episode was definitely a learning process, and we already have some ideas for how we can make future videos better! In the meantime, some questions for you, our lovely readers:
- Are videos something you'd like to see more of?
- What suggestions do you have for improvements?
- What would you like to see us bake in future episodes?
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg large yolk
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 king-size Hershey's bars (milk or dark)
1 jar marshmallow fluff
4 1/2 graham crackers
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan, line the pan with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper as well.
In a medium saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the melted butter to a large bowl. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes before proceeding.
To the large bowl with the butter, add the sugar, eggs and yolk, almond butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk until smooth and well combined. Add the flour and baking powder and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick.
Spread half the blondie batter into the prepared baking pan. Lay the graham crackers on the surface of the batter. Spread the entire jar of marshmallow fluff on top. Then lay the chocolate bars side by side. Finally, top with remaining batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked through and golden brown. Insert a skewer in the center of the blondies to test the doneness. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before lifting from the pan and slicing.