5 over-the-campfire dessert recipes for gooey s’more alternatives

Published: August 15, 2018

Jackson's Falls dessert bannock. Photo by Liam Mogan, food styling by Ruth Gangbar, prop styling by Laura Branson

When the night air starts to cool, it’s time to gather around the campfire and bust out the guitars, your best ghost stories and of course dessert. But be warned: these ooey, gooey, easy-to-prep treats just might steal the show.

Jackson’s Falls Dessert Bannock

This simple bannock recipe is adapted from the Public School House restaurant at Jackson’s Falls Country Inn in Prince Edward County, Ont., where First Nations owner Lee Arden Lewis features Native-inspired cuisine. The bannock gets baked over prepared hot coals in about 20–30 minutes.

  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 21⁄2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt 1 tbsp ground dried sumac, optional (See TIP below)
  • 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
  • 21⁄2–3 cups water
  • 1⁄4 cup butter, melted Nutella, whipped cream, chopped strawberries or cinnamon sugar, to taste

1. Choose clean, green sticks about as thick as your thumb; peel the bark off their ends (about 8″).

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and sumac (if using). Add oil and just enough water, a little at a time, to form soft dough that’s not too sticky. Knead lightly in bowl, adding a little flour as needed, with well-oiled hands for a few minutes, until dough is elastic; divide into 6–8 pieces.

3. Roll each piece into long, 1″-thick ropes with your hands. Heat peeled ends of sticks over coals; wrap dough coils firmly around warmed ends.

4. Hold bannock over hot coals, turning sticks occasionally and being careful not to burn, cooking for about 20–30 minutes or until puffed, evenly browned, and cooked in centre. Remove bannock from sticks; brush with melted butter and dust with cinnamon sugar or fill generously with Nutella, whipped cream, and chopped strawberries. Serves 6–8.

TIP Staghorn sumac is a wild-growing plant known for its tight, bunched clusters of fuzzy red berries with seeds inside. You can buy it in Middle Eastern stores or online from suppliers such as Forbes Wild Foods. It adds a lemony flavour and can be used dried and ground.

Cottage Pudding Cake

Apple and blueberry cake with whipped cream? Yes, please! Allow for 25–35 minutes over medium-heat coals.

Filling

8 cups peeled, cored, and sliced medium Macintosh, Jonagold, or Cortland apples (about 6–8 apples) 11⁄2 cups maple syrup 1 cup water or tea (or more, as necessary), divided 1 tsp salt 4 tbsp butter 3 cups fresh blueberries (or raspberries)

Topping

  • 2 cups biscuit mix (see recipe, left, or store-bought)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground dried ginger
  • 1⁄2 cup buttermilk (or stir together
  • 11⁄2 tsp of lemon juice or white vinegar with enough milk to measure
  • 1⁄2 cup, and let sit for 5–10 minutes) 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup granola Whipped cream, optional

1. Combine apples, maple syrup, half the water (or tea), and salt into a saucepan; place over medium heat (on the fire or the stove) for 15 minutes or so until bubbling and hot, stirring occasionally to cook evenly and soften apples.

2. Add butter and berries; heat through for another 5 minutes or until berries soften, stirring with a spoon occasionally. Add more of the water (or tea) as needed to keep the fruit bubbly and juicy, if thick.

3. Combine biscuit mix, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl, then buttermilk and egg.

4. Divide hot fruit mixture into six 8-ounce enamel cups (or pour into a 13×9 metal baking pan, or two 9×5 metal loaf pans to about 3/4 full); return to heat. With fruit mixture briskly bubbling over medium-hot coals, dab small spoonfuls of batter loosely overtop, leaving room for fruit to show through; top with granola.

5. Place directly on grill, over medium-hot coals with roasting pan lid over the cakes. Top with coals, and bake for about 10 minutes (or 20 minutes, if using a single larger pan), until fruit is bubbling, and topping is golden brown. Garnish with whipped cream, if using. Serves 6.

Cinnamon Swirly Buns with Creamy Icing

Using store-bought dough means less messing about and fewer ingredients, so once buns are on the fire, it’s just about making the campfire coffee while keeping an eye on things. The buns cook in about an hour over medium-heat coals.

Buns

  • 2 packages (318 g) plain large crescent roll dough
  • 1⁄2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped, divided 1⁄2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Icing

  • 1⁄2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3–1⁄2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla 1 tsp lemon juice

1. Generously line bottom and edges of a 9″ round cake pan with aluminum foil (making it easier to remove the bread from the Dutch oven when done), leaving some foil edges you can grasp with tongs. Then, spray foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place large, 10″ Dutch oven and lid over medium-heat fire to preheat for at least 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, open crescent dough packages; unroll dough carefully onto lightly floured surface without separating into triangles, laying pieces so the longer sides of each touch, to form a large 12″-by-16″rectangle.

3. Combine butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Using a spatula, spread butter mixture evenly over dough. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup pecans (and chocolate chips, if using); roll dough into cylinder starting at longest side, and pinch edge to seal closed.

4. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut cylinder into 8 slices to form rolls. Nestle rolls cut-side up into prepared pan, pressing down on them to spread the dough into any gaps; sprinkle with remaining 1⁄4 cup pecans. (Tip: you can assemble ahead to this point, cover, and refrigerate; bake within 4 hours.)

5. In medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Scrape icing into zip-lock bag, pressing into bottom. Set aside.

6. Place foil-lined cake pan inside pre-heated Dutch oven over coals. Add 6–8 hot coals evenly onto lid.

7. Bake over medium heat (for about 50 minutes to an hour), rotating every 15 minutes. Check occasionally (adding or removing coals on top as needed), and bake until golden brown, dough is springy to touch, and toothpick or knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Remove from Dutch oven; let cool for 10 minutes or so (if you can wait!) before icing. 8. Use scissors to snip off one corner of the icing bag; lightly squeeze icing onto the warm Cinnamon Swirly Buns, smearing to coat evenly. Serves 8.

Grilled Pineapple Wedges with Berry Lime Drizzle and Yogurt

Whether you slice up whole pineapples or, even easier, buy fresh peeled and cored ones, it is simple and glorious with fresh berries and mint leaves. Don’t skip the lime, though—it’s a game-changer.

  • 2 pineapples
  • 3⁄4 cup liquid honey
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 11⁄2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 container (500 ml) peach-flavoured Greek yogurt
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh blackberries Handful fresh mint leaves (optional)

1. Cut pineapples into quarters length wise. Combine honey and lime zest and juice in a medium bowl.

2. Place pineapple wedges on a campfire grill over medium-hot heat, turning and brushing occasionally with the honey-lime mixture, for about 6–8 minutes per side for about 30 minutes or until softened and pleasantly charred.

3. Add the raspberries to any remaining honey-lime mixture, crushing slightly.

4. To serve, coarsely chop pineapple wedges into individual bowls, topping with yogurt, raspberry sauce, blackberries, and mint (if using). Serves 8.

Pecan Skillet Brownies

Bake this vegan treat directly in a 10″ cast iron skillet with a second skillet inverted overtop (or in a cake pan that fits inside your Dutch oven). These brownies need about 50 minutes to bake over medium-heat coals.

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 11⁄2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp each baking powder and salt
  • 1 tsp finely ground espresso (optional)
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped, toasted nuts (such as pecans or walnuts)
  • 1 cup coconut oil 1 cup water 1 tsp vanilla extract 1⁄2 cup fresh raspberries (or blueberries)

1. Line two 10″ cast iron skillets with foil. Preheat both skillets over indirect medium heat on campfire grill for at least 10 minutes.

2. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, espresso (if using), and nuts in large bowl or plastic tub. (This can be done ahead, if you like.)

3. Melt coconut oil in a small pan; add water and vanilla. Add oil mixture to dry ingredients; combine evenly with spoon.

4. Grease preheated skillets with cooking spray. Spread batter evenly onto the foil in one preheated skillet. Sprinkle raspberries over surface, pressing lightly into batter; cover with the second, pre-heated greased foil-lined skillet as a lid.

5. Set skillet on grill over medium-heat coals; spread a few hot coals evenly over lid (replacing them during the cooking time, as needed). Bake, rotating brownies occasionally, for 40–50 minutes or until they start to smell delicious. When done, the brownies should feel springy in the centre, and a toothpick or a knife inserted in the centre of the pan should come out with just a few moist crumbs. Serves 8.

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