S'mores Cookie Bars

Every summer growing up (and more than one fall) we spent time in Door County, Wisconsin. (Imagine the state's a left hand. The thumb that juts out into Lake Michigan? That's Door County!) Though cherries are a BIG draw - they offer everything in cherry: salsa, chutney, chili, pastry, etc - we ended nearly every night huddled around the fire pit beside our little inland lake, adding one more log hour after hour until we were too cold and tired and it was time to go inside and fall into bed so we could be well-rested for our long day of beach-sitting. S'mores were undoubtedly the star of the night (other than the actual stars).

I'm most certainly a 's'mores year-round' kind of gal. While I don't think I've ever eaten so many of them as I did all those weeks and weekends on the Wisconsin lakeshore, I cannot get on board with the idea that there's one particular season for what is arguably the perfect snack.

In college, my roommates and I made many (many) oven s'mores in our tiny apartment kitchen and one night toasted some mini mallows on a fork (bad idea) over a candle in a pinch. I've made these cookie bars, which, I'll admit, are not as perfect or swoon-worthy as the real deal, many times. They have all the components of the traditionals, but also the addition of a brown-sugar, vanilla cookie base. They're also endlessly versatile, just like the real thing. Use cinnamon-y grahams, mix in mini peanut butter cups, add fruit or jam - make them yours.

S'mores Cookie Bars

3/4 c light brown sugar

1/4 c sugar

1/2 c butter (1 stick)

2 large eggs

1-2 teaspoons vanilla

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour

1/2 c crumbled graham cracker pieces (about 3 full sheets of crackers)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 c milk chocolate chips

2 heaping cups mini marshmallows OR 7 1/2 oz marshmallow fluff

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter (or otherwise grease) a 9x13 pan. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 7-10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mix well. Add vanilla extract. Make sure everything's fluffy again after adding the additional ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread the cookie dough into your prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, add marshmallows or fluff and broil until marshmallows (or fluff) are puffed and toasty. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cutting these gets tricky due to the marshmallow topping. Either use water on the knife to keep the marshmallow from sticking to it or just embrace the imperfection, no big deal. Eat these huddled around a campfire, wrapped in a blanket or whenever your little heart desires.