This post is brought to you by KOA Campgrounds.
Being a frugal family, camping is one of our favorite ways to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy days. For many people though, “what to eat while camping” is hard to overcome.
For many families, burgers, hot dogs and bags of chips are the standard fare. That’s fine if your burgers are homemade, your hot dogs don’t contain artificial fillers and preservatives and your chips aren’t deep-fried in processed and unhealthy yellow cooking oil. But let’s be real. If your menu reads burgers, hot dogs and chips, chances are high you’re not eating real food.
I shared our super simple camping meal plan last year, and it’s 95% real food. The only item on the menu that isn’t real food are the s’mores, and that’s because making marshmallows AND graham crackers from scratch aren’t high on my priority list.
But skipping dessert while camping is practically unheard of – a travesty in my book. So instead of skipping dessert altogether, we’ve created a real food dessert option that’s sure to please every camper and every sweet tooth: Cast Iron Skillet Blonde Brownie!
Last month the Crumbs family packed up and drove 12 hours north to visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest coastal regions. Although the weather was a bit rainy and cool, our trip was relaxing and our accommodations made us feel right at home.
Fact: We are NOT the typical camping family because we don’t do tents. We’ve given tent camping a good and fair shot, but dealing with one kid who wiggles all.night.long. and backs that need a bit of cushion, we’ve decided that sleeping inside a cabin is better for the family as a whole.
We typically choose the no frills basic cabin that has beds, a simple front porch and a roof. But when KOA invited us to spend the night in their deluxe cabin, we had a hard time resisting the lure of having a kitchen (and a bathroom with a shower!) while camping.
Staying true to the rules of camping, we brought the majority of our food from home (including butter and coconut oil) and supplemented with a short stop at a local grocery store. I’ll tell you this – having a fridge to store our food in makes fitting everything we need in an economy-sized car much easier!!
It also makes cooking dinner much easier when you’re visiting during a 5-day monsoon!
Knowing HOW to cook dinner is one of the hurdles families struggle with while camping, since most of us cook dinner on a stove or in the oven. Fortunately, this cast iron skillet blonde brownie requires neither! You can easily prepare and enjoy this indulgent dessert over an open campfire, a camp stove or any other heating source you might have available.
How is that possible? The key is getting the cast iron skillet warm all over and then insulating the heat once you’ve added the ingredients.
The result is a dessert that won’t make you feel bad in the morning or make you go broke buying processed ingredients!
Since cooking over an open flame is a bit less scientific than cooking in the oven, the texture of your dessert might vary a little bit. We prefer it a little under-cooked, making the brownie a tad bit gooey and forcing us to eat it with a spoon. It also means we can skip serving plates and wash less dishes.
Yes, we’re a bit on the wild side and throw caution to the wind to double dip when we’re camping.
If you cook it spot on, or even a bit over-done, you’ll end up with a dessert that more resembles a cookie (which makes for a better picture). Both are absolutely delicious nonetheless, and it’s just a matter of preference as to how you want your dessert to turn out!
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 oz dark chocolate grated
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp instant coffee granules (optional)
- 1½ tsp vanilla
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- cast iron skillet
- aluminum foil
- something heavy for insulation (i.e. lid, second skillet (any kind) or another pot - not required, but helpful)
- Preheat cast iron skillet over open flame or on stove for 10 full minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine butter, chocolate chips and grated dark chocolate in a medium bowl and mash together with a large spoon.
- In a separate small bowl, combine eggs, coffee (if using), vanilla and sugar. Mix to combine well.
- Add egg mixture to chocolate and mix well, ensuring everything is well combined.
- Add flour, baking powder and salt to the batter and stir until just combined.
- When the cast iron skillet is hot, remove from the fire and pour in batter. Cover with aluminum foil and place something heavy on top (i.e. cookie sheet, another pan inverted, lid, etc.).
- Allow brownie to sit undisturbed for 20 minutes. Test doneness with a knife inserted until just barely clean. Cook over the open fire or on a stove for another 5 minutes if needed, but be careful to not let pan get too hot otherwise the bottom will burn.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving directly from the skillet.
Additional Recipe Tips
Two things to consider when making this recipe.
- The top of the brownie will have tiny holes rather than the typically smooth surface from a brownie baked in the oven. This makes it hard to judge doneness by looks, so follow the timing and use a knife to test.
- The brownie will continue to cook in the cast iron skillet so be sure to remove it from the fire and place on a ventilated spot (like the picnic table) so air can circulate underneath and cool. Do this as soon as the knife is mostly clean so that you don’t over-cook the brownie!
When you’re preheating the cast iron skillet, you want it to be warm, not hot. A drop of water should barely sizzle when added to the pan. If it sizzles violently, the pan is too hot. Remove it from the flame and allow it to cool slightly. Be careful when handling the skillet as it will be hot!
You don’t have to reserve this recipe just for camping. Summer will be here soon as will hot temperatures, and no one wants to cook dinner when it’s hot outside. Pull out that skillet and make this dessert on the grill!
Tips for Camping
Since mixing bowls are hard to come by unless you’re staying in a deluxe cabin, be sure to combine ingredients as follows before you leave the house:
- butter, chocolate chips and grated chocolate in a medium container with a lid, already mashed
- eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar in a small container, already mixed well
- flour, baking powder and salt in a small plastic bag
The morning you want to make brownies, pull everything out from the cooler and allow to come to room temperature. Follow these steps when you’re ready to make brownies!
- While the cast iron skillet is pre-heating, stir the egg mixture first with a spoon.
- Pour this mixture into the butter/chocolate mixture and stir well (with the same spoon).
- Add the flour to batter, stir and you’re ready to bake!
Note: Do NOT store egg/sugar mixture in a canteen. The sugar will absorb a little bit of the egg and it will be very difficult to get it all out. Store in a shallow tupperware container instead.
Stay tuned camping fans because KOA and Crumbs are teaming up again this summer to bring you even more delicious meals and meal plans – designed to help you eat well on a budget while camping in the great outdoors!
Do you like to camp? What’s your traditional go-to dessert when cooking outside?
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KOA Campgrounds, where we’ve chosen to camp long before this post was written. As always, I would never recommend anything on Crumbs that I wouldn’t recommend to a close friend or neighbor, and all opinions here are my own. Read my full disclosure statement here.