Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Into the Fire: Ash-Baked Chocolate-Orange Brownies

I don't know about you, but when I'm roughing it, I still like to enjoy good food. In fact, I'm inclined to think that the very nature of cooking in the wild outdoors makes food taste all the better. And I love camp cooking; you give me fire, I'll give you grub that rivals anything back home.

So with the 2009 camping season in full swing, these semi-homemade brownies are one of my favorite camp treats that I thought you might enjoy. I made them just last week while on vacation, and although our oceanside cabin (complete with hot tub, sauna, hammock) was not exactly roughing it, there was a fire ring on the deck that certainly made you feel like you were at summer camp. Only better, because there was lots of good red wine. At any rate, you bake these brownies right in the ashes of the fire, with a hollowed-out orange peel serving as the baking dish (and imparting a delectable orange essence to the brownies' flavor).

There's no real recipe per se - but the experimentation is part of the adventure. So give the s'mores a rest and try something different the next time you're out there communing with nature!

Ash-Baked Chocolate-Orange Brownies
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 package brownie mix (I prefer the "No Pudge Fudge" brand, not only because the brownies are rich and gooey and fat free, but only requires the addition of yogurt to complete the mix - no fussing with oil, butter, eggs, etc.)
Cut the end off of the oranges and use a reamer to extract the juice. Remove the remaining pulp with a spoon until you've got a clean orange interior, down to the white pith. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the fresh-squeezed juice to use in the brownie mix itself, and save or drink the rest.

Prepare the brownies according to package directions. Add the reserved orange juice; stir to combine. Spoon the batter into the hollowed-out orange peels, filling about 1/2 - 3/4 of the way (it will expand - so don't overfill). Individually wrap each orange in heavy-duty tinfoil (I actually use two layers of foil).

Now here's where the experimentation comes in. You'll want to place the tinfoil-wrapped oranges into the hot ashes of a fire, once the fire has produced a lot of glowing coals. You do not want to place the brownies directly in the flame. So, once you've got a fair amount of hot ashes/coals to work with, dig out pockets in the ash for each orange. Sink the oranges into the ashes up to about half of their depth; mound up the ashes and coals around each orange, and even place small hot coals on top. The oranges shouldn't exactly be buried, but fairly well surrounded. And then just let them be for at least 10 minutes. You likely won't know the exact temperature of the ash and coals, so after 10 minutes, pull one of the oranges out, open up the foil and check for doneness. The ones I made last week took 15 minutes. Serve warm, of course!


  1. This is so luscious. I'm having a party next week and we're going to do it over the backyard firepit.

  2. Alana - you'll have to let me know how it goes!

  3. I used to make these with yellow cake mix... next time I'm trying the brownie mix. :)

    Another fun one: Peel a small strip of "skin" from a banana, but leave it attached at one end. Scoop out some of the banana, then fill the cavity with chocolate chips and pieces of marshmallows. Close it up, wrap in foil and throw it on the coals for a while. I've also stuffed them with chocolate, marshmallows and strawberries. YUM!! The possibilities are endless!!

  4. WOW. That looks amazing. Thinking about camping and getting outside is helping to get me through this endless winter in the Midwest. Awesome blog, by the way!

  5. Cool! Now I can't wait to go camping again just to try this!!! Of course, there's always the fire pit out back, but just not the same! Sound great!