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Gimme s'more. [Photograph: Maria del Mar Sacasa]

It was an absolute disaster. I have a Mississippi mud pie recipe that I thought would make a fantastic base for a s'mores-inspired dessert. It's all chocolate goo and spread with marshmallow fluff, so the only thing I needed to do was anchor it with a Graham cracker crust. Simple.

Halfway into baking, the floodgates opened. I had flipped on the oven light just to check in, and to my shock and horror, it seemed to be breathing deeply. Transfixed and hoping that this didn't mean the filling was going to start pouring out of the baking dish, I watched as the breathing turning into heaving. And then, naturally, the mudslide came. It was unstoppable; thick brown batter gushed out and cascaded down to the bottom of the oven. There was nothing to do but remove the pie from the oven and discard it.

It gets worse. I scraped as much of the batter from the oven floor as I could, then decided it was probably a good time to set it to self-clean. Wrong again. A few minutes into the cycle, my living room was filled with smoke and it smelled like an open-pit barbecue. Three hours later I was shoulder-deep in the oven, scrubbing away the debris, inhaling toxic fumes.

Traumatized, I moved away from the Mississippi mud pie, but I did venture back into the kitchen to make these s'mores brownie bars. The base is a slightly modified version of "The Greatest Brownies Ever" from Jennifer Appel's The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook. I've adapted her well-behaved recipe to make an intense, bittersweet chocolate layer between the graham cracker crust and the toasted mini-marshmallow topping. The dark chocolate center curbs the over-the-top sweetness that candy bar milk chocolate normally lends the classic kid dessert. The brownie layer is thinner than a proper brownie, as I was aiming for a bar effect rather than a brownie with a crust. Even if you didn't have a nightmare day in the kitchen, you deserve this treat.

About the author: Maria del Mar Sacasa is a recipe developer, food stylist, and author of the food blogs High Heels & Frijoles and Voracious Billy Goat. Behind her girly façade lurks a truck driver's appetite.

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