Author’s Foreword: I wanted to make all of these by the campfire at the Wilderness Learning Center’s W.A.R. weekend rendezvous campout. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time so I was stuck under an EZ Up shelter with just my small charcoal grill. I was able to get it done but would have preferred to do this by the campfire. Campfire or no campfire, they were still appreciated by those who had a chance to try them out.
It’s getting to the end of the warm-weather camping season and it’s that time of year when I reflect on what I’ll miss from another good summer. Somehow, my mind always goes to the food and the good times around the campfire stuffing my face and sharing good ole soul food. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the campfire throughout the year, especially winter, and the food is always good but in the summer I can sit back in my backpacking chair with sandals and a good cigar without having to worry about freezing my tail off. The food from summer that always grabs my attention is that dessert classic, the s’more. How can you go wrong, cinnamon-crusted graham crackers, melted chocolate bar, perfectly golden-toasted marshmallow, if God could have made a more perfect campfire treat he would have kept it for himself. What I want to do with this blog is talk about some of the other camp dessert ideas I’ve learned over the years. You still have some time to try these before the cold weather sets in so check them out.
Graham Cracker, Marshmallow, Chocolate
Take a bow s’mores, you’ve served hungry campers for years. Thank you. We all owe you a round of applause. I can’t give the readers of this blog new ideas without recognizing a classic first. I love watching people make s’mores and their unique processes. Some people char their marshmallow and dangerously wave it to extinguish the flames. I swear, flaming marshmallow is essentially store-bought poor-man’s napalm. Some (like me) roast the marshmallow over the heat and evenly coat the marshmallow considering a flame up a failure. Others strategically lay out their ingredients for quick construction and others rely on friends to help them put it all together. However you do it. It’s all good!
A Touch of Class:
Shortbread Cookie, Nutella, rum-soaked Banana
I heard about this one on a cooking show years ago. There was a challenge made to a group of backpackers to see who could make the most original S’more. One contestant thought outside the box and discarded the idea of using classic ingredients. If I recall correctly, the judges went ape dookie (PG version of ape shit) for the creativity. I didn’t believe this one until I tried it. I like Girl Scout Cookie Shortbreads, I’m a Nutella slut, and as ½ Filipino anything with bananas is already Pinoy approved. The rum-soaked bananas are really the icing on the cake, or in this case, the showstopper. Flambe it on a metal dish if you really want to shine on your friends. I forgot the rum at home when we took photos for this blog and will admit they taste just fine without the added alcohol. Unlike the traditional s’more, you don’t need to put a second cookie on top and can make this one more like an open-face sandwich.
Peanut Butter, Bacon, Maple Syrup-drizzled Eggo Waffle (maple syrup if you have it)
Unless someone steps forward and claims (and proves!) they thought of this one first, I have to say this is my original brain fart. As a red-blooded American, I love bacon. I also have a love affair with peanut butter. I think the bacon grease and protein from the peanut butter are the perfect cure for a wild night out. This might be the perfect morning after s’more but it is good any time of day. The sugary waffle provides all the carbs and all together, this is a mean concoction you can’t go wrong with. Toast the waffle on a forked stick you whittle with your Fiddleback (last time I did this I used a Scandi Hiking Buddy I wore around my neck) and get ready for an eating experience you won’t forget. If you are feeling particularly frisky, warm up a smooth rock about the size of a brick as well as a flat rock in your firepit ring. Wrap the whole “breakfast anytime” s’more in aluminum foil and use the two rocks like a panini press. You can bet your friends will be wowed with this one!
Raspberries, Dark or White Chocolate, Crescent Rolls
First learned about these while guiding a canoeing/kayaking camp for the private Renbrook School in the early 2000’s. We wrapped chocolate chips in Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and wrapped all of it with olive oil coated aluminum foil before placing them on the coals. After a few minutes, you flip them over to bake the other side. Cook them all the way through or leave them slightly raw; it’s up to you. As you can imagine, what bakes up is a desert “hot pocket” of goodness. On our weekend at the Wilderness Learning Center where we cooked these up, we tried a new variation baked inside a small Weber Smokey Joe grill on a metal plate. Variations of this can include peanut butter and jelly, white chocolate and raspberry, and anything else your mind can dream up. I’ve made these for almost 20 years now and they never disappoint.
Camping is about the outdoors experience and what better way to enhance the experience than to serve up great food? The memory concept of recency would suggest we are most likely to remember the last thing we experience and desert is the last thing you eat before you retire for the night. I believe that even if your group can’t enjoy the main meal, you should always find a way to having something sweet to boost their morale. Try any of these desert options and they’ll surely be remembered.