Recipe Review: Orange Peel Campfire Brownies
Author & Photographer: Susan Kixmoeller
The Idea There’s a camping “hack” that’s been going around the internet lately. It claims to be an easy, kid-safe way to cook brownies on a camping trip. The idea is that you fill hollowed out oranges with brownie batter, wrap it in aluminum foil, and put it in the fire to cook it. The recipe is written so that you can mix all the dry ingredients at home and bring them to the campsite in a plastic bag, then add the eggs and oil right before baking.
The Recipe Although a variation on this recipe exists on lots of blogs and cooking sites, I decided to use the Food Network’s version, because of their credibility and good reputation.
1 cup sugar
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 oranges, cut in half
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Combine the sugar, flour, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large heavy duty resealable bag at home.
At the campsite, cut the oranges in half and scoop out the inside of the orange. Be careful not to puncture the peel.
Add the oil and eggs to the bag with the flour mixture, reseal, and squish around until well combined.
Fill each orange about 2/3 of the way and wrap twice in heavy duty aluminum foil.
Put in a bed of coals, cut side up, and cover with more coals. Cook until the batter is set, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the heat of your coals.
How It Went In a word: disastrous. From the beginning, simply emptying out the oranges was more difficult than it seemed like it should have been, taking about a half hour to complete the ones necessary for the recipe and leaving orange residue under my nails. The mixing of the ingredients was easy, but I felt like mixing in a bag was really wasteful; no matter how much I manipulated the bag to try to get it all out, a good amount was left coating the bag that was impossible to squeeze out. After wrapping the oranges in heavy duty tin foil twice, I placed them in the fire. Again, this was easier said than done because, without fire equipment like pokers or tongs, it was easy to burn your fingers. This alone made it not a great recipe to do with the younger members of your family. Within five minutes of me placing the oranges in the fire, I heard some loud popping noises. I went to investigate and realized that the aluminum foil had completely been burned through by the fire and that the orange brownies were burning directly in the flames. I got them out of the fire as soon as I could, but the brownie batter had leaked out of the oranges and created a mess. Needless to say, the resulting brownies were inedible, more closely resembling balls of charcoal than brownies.
Conclusions: Don’t use this recipe. The amount of effort and time is not worth it. First, to bring eggs to your campsite, you either need ulta-pasteurized eggs, which aren’t easy to find, or constant refrigeration, which isn’t easy on a camping trip. Second, it’s very difficult to hollow out the oranges. Third, and most importantly, there is so much potential for user error. Although it’s possible that my attempt went so badly because my fire was too hot, the majority of people won’t know how to build a fire exactly right so that the coals will be hot, but not too hot, and stay that way for 25 minutes. For the same amount of time and dramatically less worry and tediousness, bake brownies at home, cut them up, and bring them in a plastic bag. Use them as the base for s’mores if you want to use the fire to make a fun dessert, but don’t try this recipe: it will result in wasted ingredients, inedible brownies, and disappointed hungry friends and family.