April 19, 2021
“Hey dad, are we building a fire tonight?”
I can’t tell you how many times that question came out of the mouth of my 10-year-old son last spring, summer and fall, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. He’d inquire in the morning, sometimes after lunch and most frequently just before or immediately after dinner.
And it was a loaded question, for sure.
Because I know what he was really interested in, and it was not just about sitting by the fire to unwind, reflect on his day, or stare at the moon. Like many 10-year-olds, Lucas had one thing on his mind and one thing only–campfire treats. And there's no shame in that.
He knew if we built a fire, he could utilize it to fulfill his dessert desires. I’m sure the same conversation and scene has played out in backyards across America and it never gets old. Because, if we’re being honest, is there anything better to snack on or sip on around the fire—no matter the time of year, or at any age—than some s’mores and hot cocoa?
Toward the end of last summer, with the new school year approaching and our prime weather days in western New York dwindling, I figured I could take the backyard campfire treats experience to the next level by offering to pitch our two-person tent in the shadow of our apple tree and make it a full-fledged backyard camp out.
“That’d be awesome,” Lucas said. “We’re still doing the fire, though, right?”
“It’s not a camp-out without a fire,” I told him.
After helping me get the tent set up and filling it with some of the creature comforts of home, he arranged a couple of camp chairs around the fire pit and then vanished in the house for a bit. Meanwhile, I gathered some kindling and logs and got to work on the fire.
A few minutes later, Lucas emerged with a tray carrying bowls full of all the fixings for s’mores—marshmallows, graham crackers and an assortment of chocolate bars. He even remembered the skewers.
By then, dusk had settled in, the fire was burning bright, and it was time for treats. He assembled his own and offered to build mine, too. One s’more turned into two and as we let the fire burn out, Lucas looked over and said, “This was awesome. Thanks.”
Yes, it was.
Whether you’re doing a staycation in your backyard or you’re venturing out to a spot in the wilderness, it’s important to consider the must-haves for some flawless backyard or campsite confections.
Stanley’s Adventure Full Kitchen Base Camp Cook Set is a great option for myriad culinary needs. We used the four bowls to help organize the s’mores components while the plates can each hold up to four fully-assembled s’mores—trust me. You’ll need to supply the skewers to toast the marshmallows, but Stanley has the rest covered.
The fry pan could also be used to make a crowd-pleasing s’mores dip over the fire.
Ultimate Backyard S’mores Recipe
- 8 graham cracker squares
- 2 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 oz. each), each halved
- 4 large marshmallows
- On each of 4 graham cracker squares, place candy bar half. Set aside or place near a heat source to start softening chocolate. Spear each marshmallow on long-handled fork, toast over campfire coals. Carefully place toasted marshmallow on top of each chocolate bar. Top each with a cracker; press together and hold for a few seconds to melt chocolate.
Campfire S’mores Dip
- 1 bag marshmallows
- 4 milk chocolate candy bars
- 2 packages graham crackers for dipping
- Line the 3-ply fry pan with aluminum foil. Break the chocolate bars into pieces and layer them into the bottom of the pan. Layer marshmallows on top until chocolate is covered. Cover with vented lid and place over the fire but away from direct flames. Chocolate should be melted in 5-7 minutes but keep an eye on it to avoid burning. Once the marshmallows start to melt, give it few more minutes until they're thoroughly melted. Once melted through, set up a plate of graham crackers and let the dipping begin!
If a warm chocolately drink by the fire is more your style, Stanley’s Adventure Cool Grip Camp Percolator will do the trick for heating water or warming milk over an open fire.
If you’re pouring for a large group of hot cocoa drinkers or youngsters who can’t get enough, consider making a big batch ahead of time and storing it in the Stanley Classic Legendary 1.5-quart Bottle, which keeps liquids hot for up to 40 hours.
The lid to the Classic Bottle is a great option to sip from since it doubles as a cup, the Stanley Legendary Camp Mug will keep your beverage hot for up to 90 minutes.
Backyard Hot Chocolate (for the kids)
- 4 cups milk (whole or 2%)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Place milk, cocoa powder and sugar in the Base Camp Cook Set Pot. Place on grill grate above fire, whisking or stirring frequently until warm (not boiling). Add chocolate chips and keep stirring until chocolate has melted evenly. Whisk in vanilla extract and serve immediately in Legendary Camp Mugs. Top with fire-toasted marshmallows.
Spiked Hot Chocolate (for the adults)
- 4 cups milk (whole or 2%)
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 oz. bourbon
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Whipped cream and cocoa powder (optional)
- Heat milk in Base Camp Cook Set Pot on grill grate above fire, whisking or stirring frequently until bubbling around sides. Remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate and honey until melted and blended. Return to heat and stir until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in bourbon and vanilla. Divide evenly into Camp Mugs. If desired, top with whipped cream; sprinkle with cocoa powder.