Campside Sweets Beyond S'mores

Rachel Tepper Paley
July 17, 2014

Photo credit: Tara Striano/StockFood

We have no quarrel with the s’more. It’s the most classic, gooiest miracle of campfire cuisine. But even the most thoughtfully layered stack of graham crackers, charred marshmallows, and molten chocolate can seem a little, well, predictable. Surely there must be other desserts worthy your campground menu.

There are!

Grilled poundcake and fruit. James Beard Award-winning Heartwood chef Bradford Thompson likes to char slices of poundcake—baked at home ahead of time or even “foraged" from the gas station mini-mart—and peaches. If you’re car camping, a campsite charcoal grill will do the trick. But if cooking over an open fire without the benefit of a grate, Thompson suggests enlisting either a fish-grilling basket or pie iron. Either way, sprinkle them both with sugar before your subject them to the heat for caramelization, and finish with torn fresh mint or basil. 

Cobblers, crisps, and brown betties. The car camping set won’t mind throwing a cast-iron skillet in the trunk. It’s excellent for stewed fruit desserts similar to this plum crisp topped with rolled oats or this cinnamon-spiced apple brown betty. (Parts of the recipes, like pulsing toasted white bread in a blender, could be completed at home.) ”Those are really good because you get a little smokiness in the fruit,” Thompson said, though he cautioned that cooking times may vary depending on the heat of your fire and how far the dish is placed from the heat source.

Biscuit-dough doughnuts. A tube of Pillsbury biscuit dough? Check. A cast-iron skillet? Check. Butter, sugar, and cinnamon? Check, check, check. We’ve seen a few iterations of this treat; this recipe calls for roasting the biscuits over an open fire, dipping them in butter, then rolling them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. And that calls for a “yes.”

Stuffed apples. Aluminum foil is the only equipment you need for this one. Thompson suggests coring an apple and stuffing the cavity with dried fruit and nuts, then wrapping the whole thing in foil and sticking the whole shebang in the fire. “Then you’ve got a really soft caramelized, stuffed fruit,” Thompson said. We suggest serving the results in a bowl with a little milk poured over it.

Now you can stir up some excitement come dessert time.