The best part about coming home for the holidays is having a good excuse to do absolutely nothing. I’ve spent most of the last 48 hours eating and sleeping, but last night, I also managed to squeeze in a little baking. It was a cold, rainy day, and I felt like trying a recipe for Toasted Marshmallow Cookie Bars.
I found the recipe about a year ago on Joy the Baker, but I never tried it when I lived in Chicago: my “easy bake oven” didn’t have the best broiler capacities, and a part of me was scared that in trying to toast the marshmallows, I’d set my whole apartment on fire.
Now that I’m home, I can use my mom’s large, two-door oven, and I don’t have to worry about potential disasters. The recipe was relatively straightforward: Mix butter and sugar, add an egg yolk and vanilla, and then press the dough into an 8×8 pan. It’s nice not having to roll out the dough, and you don’t have to let it chill in the refrigerator beforehand.
You bake the bottom layer in the oven, and wait until the edges turn golden brown. Then, after you let it cool for a while, you can spread your topping of choice across the surface. I was torn; the original recipe called for fruit preserves, and I thought the combination of toasted marshmallows and fruit sounded interesting. I considered using Nutella, which in retrospect would have been a delicious addition. But the great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy–so I can try it again soon with different toppings.
After you spread the fruit preserves (I used strawberry), cut marshmallows in half and place them in rows across the surface. Put the cookie in the oven for a few minutes to let the marshmallows soften. Then, remove the cookie from the oven and gently press the marshmallows down with the back of a spoon (or your fingers). Turn the oven to broil, and slip the cookie into the oven to toast the marshmallows.
The marshmallows toast fast, and it looks like someone pressed the fast-forward button on a video camera: They go from white to golden brown in seconds flat. Make sure you keep an eye on them….unless you’re a fan of charcoal-y marshmallows.
I like to think of these bars as an “updated s’more.” They’re a little more sophisticated than what you’d find around a campfire, but they’re every bit as satisfying.
Toasted Marshmallow Cookie Bars (from Joy the Baker)
makes 9 squares in an 8-inch square pan
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for pressing dough into pan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fruit preserves
15 marshmallows, cut in half
Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper (leaving some overhanging paper flaps on two ends) and grease parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in vanilla bean scrapings (or vanilla extract) and egg yolk. Beat until well incorporated. Stop the mixer and add flour. Beat on low speed until completely incorporated.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with flour. With clean fingers, press the dough into the bottom of the pan. Use a bit more flour as necessary so that the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers. Try to make the crust as even as possible.
Bake crust for 20-24 minutes until golden brown around the edges, but still slightly soft in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
Run a thin butter knife around edges of the pan. Use the two parchment paper flaps to carefully remove the crust from the pan. Run a butter knife between the crust and the paper and carefully slide the crust from the paper and onto a unlined baking sheet.
Top crust with a thin layer of fruit preserved. Arrange marshmallows on top of jam. Return to the 350 degree oven for about 4 minutes. This will warm and soften the marshmallows. Remove from the oven and turn the oven onto the broiler setting. Use the back of a spoon to gently press and smash the top of each marshmallow.
Once all the marshmallows are smashed, return to the broiler. Keep a very very very very close eye on the marshmallows. They’ll toast in seconds. They’ll burn in seconds. I didn’t even close the broiler door. They just need a kiss of broiler action.
Remove toasted marshmallow cookie from the oven. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Cookies can be served slightly warm or at room temperature. Cookies can be left, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.