A sweet treat to end a meal is one of life’s great pleasures. Sharing something deliciously gooey around a campfire with your favorite people is even more wonderful! Half of the fun of making desserts with a campfire is the terrific smells that the food make as baking or heating. Watch out: You might become the envy of the campground!
The ideas here work best with a campfire that has burned down to coals, because that kind of heat helps food cook more slowly and evenly. Most fires need to burn for at least one hour to reach this stage.
Brownies On the Go
Your favorite store-bought brownie mix travels well to the campground! Simply mix it up according to the package directions and store it in a plastic food container. Keep the batter in your cooler to make sure that it’s ready to use. When you are ready for brownies, spray the inside of your cast-iron pie cooker with some non-stick cooking spray and spoon the brownie batter into one side. Seal it up and toast it over the coals for fifteen minutes, checking for done-ness after ten. Once you start to smell the brownies baking, they are nearly ready to eat!
Bonus: Brownies taste great even if they are slightly under-baked, so they are a good choice for campfire cooking.
Using a cast-iron pie maker to cook a pie over the campfire is a time-honored tradition. However, many of us have been burned (literally or figuratively) by our attempts at baking a pie over a fire. To ensure a really delicious campfire pie:
- Skip the bread when you are making dessert pies. There is no way that bread will ever taste as good as pie crust, so let’s stop pretending it does. If you want to eat toast with your pie filling, that is great! But freshly-cooked pie dough will taste a lot better. Use refrigerated pie dough, and store it in your cooler until you are ready for dessert.
- Use a high-quality canned pie filling. You can mix pie filling flavors to create your favorite flavors. Peach and blueberry are delicious together!
- Spray the cast-iron pie cooker with cooking spray and sprinkle the inside of each side with sugar.
- Lay the pie crust inside one side only, and spoon pie filling into the middle of the pie crust. Three or four big spoon-fuls is all you need.
- Lay a piece of pie crust over the pie filling and crimp it well all the way around with a fork to seal it.
- Cut a small slit in the pie dough to allow the steam to vent out.
- Close the pie cooker, cook the pie over the coals for twenty minutes, and check for done-ness after fifteen.
- Even though it is really difficult to wait, it is best to allow the pie to cool, or you will burn your mouth by taking a bite!
Sugar and Spice Biscuits
A can of refrigerated biscuit dough takes on the delicious flavors of a doughnut over a campfire! You can re-use an empty, clean spice container and fill it with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
At the campsite, open the can of biscuit dough, wrap a biscuit around the end of a stick, and make sure that it is spread in a thin, even manner over the end of the stick to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon and sugar, and toast the biscuit dough slowly over the coals. You can add more cinnamon and sugar when it’s done cooking. These are also delicious when eaten with leftover pie filling, should such a thing ever happen to you.
Elevate Your S’Mores
Everyone knows about s’mores – they are a campfire classic! Use fresh marshmallows and graham crackers so that they taste great every time. It is best to toast marshmallows over coals, but if you are in a hurry to have dessert, you can toast them near a flame. Be careful not to let the marshmallow catch on fire!
There are simple and delicious ways to take your s’mores to the next level:
- Use peanut butter cups in place of plain milk chocolate
- Cinnamon graham crackers make everything better!
- Flavored chocolate is a simple way to make s’mores delicious. Try a dark chocolate made with orange peel, sea salt and caramel, or chili peppers.
- Skip the chocolate altogether and just use these chocolate chip cookies with toasted marshmallows. The chocolate chips melt and the cookies are perfectly sweet. Bonus: One less thing to pack and unwrap!
Dutch Oven Applesauce
If you have a cast iron Dutch oven, you can make the easiest-ever applesauce. This is especially good in autumn when the apples are sweet and plentiful.
- Use a variety of apples if you can find them; this makes the sauce taste better.
- Slice 5-6 apples and remove the seeds and stems. No need to peel them before you slice them; the peels will become so soft that you won’t even notice them.
- Place the sliced apples in the Dutch oven. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon. You do not need to add sugar unless the apples are very tart.
- Pour ½ cup of orange juice over the apples. You can bring a bottle of orange juice along, or you can bring a large orange, slice it, and squeeze the juice over the apples.
- Place the Dutch oven in the coals and let the apples steam until they are soft, about one hour. Check for doneness after 45 minutes. You will be able to smell the apples as they cook.
- The apples will be very, very soft when they are done. You will be able to beat them into sauce with a wooden spoon gently. Cool slightly and enjoy!
Campfire Rice Pudding
Since this recipe contains milk, it is easiest to make this in a heavy pan, such as a Dutch oven, to prevent scorching.
Before leaving home, mix in a plastic zippered bag:
- one package of vanilla instant pudding
- ⅔ cup powdered dry milk
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups dry instant rice
- ¼ cup raisins
You might want to bring extra cinnamon for sprinkling on top once the pudding is cooked. When you are ready to have dessert, boil 2 ½ cups (20 ounces) of water in the heavy pan placed on a grate over the fire. Add the contents of the zippered bag and stir constantly until combined and the mixture begins to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat and cover it for five minutes. (You might want to set the pan on a flat rock or on a towel rather than directly on the picnic table or chair.) Cool slightly and enjoy with a sprinkle of cinnamon!
Foiled Bananas Foster
Feeling fancy? These foil-wrapped treats are easy to prepare and require almost no cleanup!
Before leaving home, mix in a zippered plastic bag:
- ⅓ cup butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Keep the brown sugar and butter mixture in the cooler. When you are ready for dessert, prepare a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil that is approximately 12 inches square. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Peel and slice a banana, and spread two or three heaping spoons of the brown sugar mixture on top of the sliced banana. Fold the foil over the banana and crimp the edges securely. Place the foil packet on the coals and frequently turn for even cooking, about five minutes. (Hint: Two long sticks can work as makeshift tongs!) Use caution when opening the foil packet, since the syrup that forms from the melted butter and brown sugar is very hot. This is perfect for eating with homemade ice cream from an ice cream ball!
Making Sweet Memories Together
Since most of these desserts take some time to cook, you will have lots of time to enjoy the company of your fellow campers around the fire. Cooking over a fire builds a relationship with patience and determination, just like camping builds those relationships with your family and friends. So, the next time you are camping, why not take the time to make memories together over something sweet?
Have you ever burned a s’more? Do you eat the crispy marshmallows, or do you start over? Let us know!