Give your usual brownie recipe an upgrade with these marshmallow-packed Gillie Whoppers

RECIPE

“A Gillie Whopper is a gollywhopper of a dessert and a chocolate lover’s dream”

Published February 29, 2024 4:30PM (EST)

S’mores Dessert Squares (Getty Images/Lauri Patterson)

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.

I have never met anyone outside of my immediate family who knows what Gillie Whoppers are. I am curious if they are called something different in other areas of the country as I’m fairly certain no one related to me created the recipe.

I associate Gillie Whoppers with Easter celebrations, spring picnics and Sunday School parties. Cut into squares and set out on covered decorative stands or individually wrapped in wax paper to carry along on some outdoor adventure, they were a special treat when I was a child, but I appreciate them so much more now that I am an adult.    

A Gillie Whopper is a gollywhopper of a dessert and a chocolate lover’s dream. I get a kick out of introducing them to people, because while Gillie Whoppers are utterly unique, there is a certain familiarity about them. They drop hints of Mississippi Mud Pie or perhaps some special confection purchased in a little town while on vacation.

It’s funny how our taste buds can lead us back and bring things up, even sometimes things we might not have ever remembered or thought of for years.

I like watching the flummoxed and thoughtful expressions that wash over the faces of those trying a Gillie Whopper for the first time. It is fun to imagine the internal questioning you can all but actually hear their wonder: Is this candy? What all am I tasting? Is there a layer of fudge? What in the name of everything sacred is this glorious thing? 

My friends unanimously conclude that the Gillie Whopper is something special and seem to enjoy continuing their quests to name all the flavors coming through as they savor each bite. I admit, there is a lot going on, but with a name like Gillie Whopper, they would have to, right?


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The base of a Gillie Whopper is basically one entire layer of what is my favorite part of a brownie: You know that inch or so of denser, chewier ‘edge’, closest to the sides of the pan, the part that is a little thinner and has a richer, more roasted flavor? Well, that makes up the bottom of a Gillie Whopper. That slightly crusty, chocolatey foundation is scattered throughout with toasted, chopped pecans, and it only takes off from there. It is then topped with melted marshmallows, graham cracker pieces and crumbs and finished with a smooth, rich layer of fudgy chocolate. 

If you want to serve them as an after dinner dessert, you can gussy them up by plating them with fresh raspberries or strawberries, but I think they are best suited for a more casual occasion, or for no occasion at all!  

Cook Time

25 minutes (plus 2 to 3 hours cooling time) 

Ingredients

3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar (or coconut sugar)

2 eggs, best at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans 

1 bag mini marshmallows

5 to 7 graham crackers, broken into small pieces

Three Minute Fudge Frosting:

1/2 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar)

2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chips or squares

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Grease a 9” square baking dish and preheat oven to 350F.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder and set aside.

  3. Using a mixer, cream butter until fluffy then add sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.

  4. Add eggs, one at the time, beating with each addition.

  5. Stir in vanilla, dry ingredients and chopped pecans.

  6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.

  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with graham cracker pieces and then sprinkle marshmallows on top. Keep marshmallows from touching sides of the pan.

  8. Return to the oven for a 1 to 2 minutes — just until marshmallows are melted.

  9. Remove from the oven and frost with Three Minute Fudge Frosting (recipe follows).

  10. Cool in the pan on a rack and then refrigerate.

  11. To serve, cut into squares.

  12. To make Three Minute Fudge Frosting: In a small saucepan, add brown or coconut sugar, chocolate and 1/4 cup of water and bring to a low boil for three minutes.

  13. Take off the heat and stir in butter and vanilla, then add powdered sugar. Stir vigorously or beat with a mixer until uniform in color and fully combined.


Cook’s Notes

-Fudge Frosting and Gooey Melted Marshmallows: Sometimes the frosting swirls together with the marshmallows, creating a marbled top; sometimes it is goes on more like a layer. Both are equally delicious.

-You can omit the graham cracker pieces completely or substitute them with any simple, crisp cookie pieces. The chopped pecans offer a bit of texture but not enough for me. I like the additional crunch and subtle cinnamon flavor from graham crackers, but I can imagine thin vanilla cookies being very tasty as well.

By Bibi Hutchings

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.         

MORE FROM Bibi Hutchings




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