Heirloom Recipes

These Marshmallowy Brownies Are The Best Kind of Insane

March  3, 2017

The freezer!

The mini Dove bars are in the freezer, and my brother can fit two in his mouth at once. No brain freeze or anything.

Upon bolting into my grandparents' house, that's the first thing he does—as an eight-year-old, a twenty-year-old, and, I predict, as a thirty-five-year-old, too.

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Silly brother, to fill up on Dove bars before the really good stuff. That always comes later, when we're sitting in the living room, schmoozing. On neat trays, nestled into mini muffin tins—paper or metallic, whatever Grandma has on hand—are pecan bars (a mini pecan pie, each one) and, for the real prize, marshmallow-topped brownies portioned into two-bite pieces (one-bite, if you're my brother).

In a house full of treats—crystal bowls of chocolate-covered almonds, a perpetually half-full Jelly Belly dispenser (the age of those beans, I dare not consider), rugelach from who knows where, plastic tubs of toffee from Costco, every cereal a kid could dream of—nothing beat the brownies. They more than made up for all the dinners of egg salad and hummus, both meant to be eaten with a spoon (the vegetarian option, as far as Grandma was concerned).

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Top Comment:
“popped into the oven to brown the marshmallow and then if we had been very good kids, we got to squish the marshmallows before mom put on the icing. Thanks for the memories!”
— NancyFromKona

Like many of her baked good recipes, this one is simple but smart: The base, standard enough, is hammered with quartered marshmallows as soon as it comes out of the oven. Those are partially melted when a thick, hot fudge-like frosting, made from more unsweetened baking chocolate melted with more marshmallows, is poured over top.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Photo by James Ransom

The result is a very sweet and rich, triple-layer bar: sturdy bottom; mounds of airy marshmallows with their rounded butts towards the sky; chocolate sauce that sets to a smooth, truffle-like consistency in the fridge.

You can tell by now that these are sugary and rich and very chocolatey. I would not recommend giving them to your children if you're about to spend time in an enclosed space, like an airplane. (My parents were brave.)

So keep close tabs on the brownies and cut them small, like Grandma does. The good news: You can eat more of them this way.

What's your favorite type of brownie? Tell us in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • NancyFromKona
  • Penny Hammack
    Penny Hammack
  • Cat A Lin
    Cat A Lin
  • Mithra
  • Lisa
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


NancyFromKona May 7, 2017
At our house in the 1960's, they were called 'Hysterical Cupcakes' portioned out in a muffin pan, each topped with a big marshmallow (in the days before minis?), popped into the oven to brown the marshmallow and then if we had been very good kids, we got to squish the marshmallows before mom put on the icing. Thanks for the memories!
Penny H. May 5, 2017
We called this Missippi Mud Cake when my kids were growing up.It was the top most requested birthday cake in our house.
Cat A. March 6, 2017
Time to convert these measurements to Australian and get some comfort food in this cool/wet season :D
You have a lovely writing style, it was so interesting to read about American grandparent visits.
All this talk of marshmallows and grandmas reminded me of my childhood fave.
For me it was rice crackers with slices of butter and Marmite (Vegemite's strange cousin) and tea you could stand a spoon in.

What we waited for every Christmas though, was marshmallow and weetbix slice. (Grandma made fudge too, which I ate grudgingly)
I wish I'd asked her for the recipe when she could still remember, but here is another Nanna approved version.
I strongly suspect that my grandma used melted raspberry marshmallows, not fresh marshmallow... I will have to try making both when I am done eating these brownies. A little intercontinental treat party. I need a school fete to take these too!
Mithra March 4, 2017
This looks incredible. I wonna try thus today. Thank you !!
Lisa March 3, 2017
What size pan?
This is an updated version of an old recipe from the 60's I have called Frudgkins, but uses evaporated milk in toping-ew, but still decadently good. Look forward to trying! (enjoy your fun writing style) thx!
Sarah J. March 4, 2017
Thanks, Lisa! It's a 9x13 pan. More details here: https://food52.com/recipes/68173-grandma-joan-s-marshmallow-brownies
RM March 3, 2017
Thank you for clarifying. Can't wait to try this... sounds amazing!
RM March 3, 2017
How much exactly is 1 square of chocolate?
Sarah J. March 3, 2017
1 square is 1 ounce—I'll clarify in the recipe!
Lindsay-Jean H. March 3, 2017
Yesssss!! I have been waiting for this recipe since you mentioned it in passing ages ago, AND I happen to have a bag of vegetarian marshmallow hanging out in the pantry. Can't wait to try them.