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Camp Cook: Brookies

A good memory is baked in when you save the best for last.

A brookie makes a delicious dessert in the field. Cook it at home and reheat it in the wild, so it will be hot, gooey, and memorable.

For a guide, there’s value in waiting to reveal the honey-est of honey holes. A similar logic applies to a shore lunch. You can wow clients every step of the way and then knock their socks off with a homemade dessert.

I am the cook of the family. My wife is the baker. She put her skills to work to help create this dessert, which is a sort of a brownie and a cookie. From a guide’s perspective, if you can say, “My spouse helped create this meal,” it demonstrates that guiding and outfitting are more than professions: they’re lifestyles that run deep.

According to Connor Ketchum, with Fish and Float Alaska, you can tell a lot about a guide by the way he fishes. But the effort he puts into his lunch tells a lot about an operation.

“If they’re willing to go above and beyond, it shows a lot,” said Ketcham, who also works for the sister lodges Rainbow River Lodge and Iliamna River Lodge.

Ketchum has guided eight years and recently worked his way into management. He helps oversee all three lodges in the Lake and Peninsula Borough of Alaska, which is 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. Depending on the time of year or day of the week, he might be assisting chefs with meal planning or be out on the river, making the meals himself with clients.

“We are an upper-scale fly-fishing lodge,” said Ketchum. “Guys are paying good money to be up there. They’re going to have great meals plated at the lodge, but why would we skimp on the shore? Who would you rather go back with, the guy who handed you a cold-cut on white bread or a homemade fajita wrap? The nonverbal speaks a lot.

For Ketchum and the lodges where he works, there is a saying: Control what you can control. “We can’t control the weather. Can’t control the fishing. But we can control our gear, the services we provide, the food we bring-—if everything else goes to crap, at least we got good gear, service, food, and attitude,” said Ketchum. For some guides, dessert may be an overlooked aspect of the float. For Ketchum and his lodges, it’s considered a big piece of the experience.

“Nothing wrong with a candy bar,” said Ketchum, “but people are away from home, and a fresh-baked dessert or a homemade granola bar—that is always icing on the cake.

In addition to a homemade dessert, Ketchum also recommends keeping something warm on hand, something that’ll keep in a thermos.

“Coffee, hot chocolate, something just in case someone goes in the drink--something to bring them back to life, so to speak,” he said.

“Our guests love the whole Alaska experience,” said Ketchum. “If we can cook over a fire, that would be ideal.” As a backup plan, Ketchum and his crew bring grills such as portable Camp Chef stoves.

The brookie recipe featured can be baked in a 9x13-inch, 2-inch-deep aluminum baking tray and covered with aluminum foil, then reheated over very low or indirect heat and served warm and gooey for guests. Lastly, there is a hot chocolate recipe and if that’s too much sugar, there’s always the option to do like me: mix your hot chocolate with “brown” water.


Brownie Batter

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Cookie Batter

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 aluminum pan by greasing the bottom and sides with butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper large enough for it to overhang on the sides. Grease the parchment.

For the brownie batter, heat the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Once the butter has melted, add both sugars. Increase the heat to medium, and stir until the mixture is smooth and shiny (should take approximately 1-2 minutes). At the same time, in a separate saucepan, melt the semisweet baking chocolate or chocolate chips over low heat.

Transfer the butter and sugar mixture into a large mixing bowl. Beat in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla until well combined.

Add the melted semisweet chocolate chips to obtain a rich, fudgy texture throughout. Add the flour and mix in the additional mini chocolate chips. Stir until incorporated.

Transfer the batter to the greased baking pan. Spread it out, and set aside. For the cookie batter, in a clean mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar, and brown sugar, and mix until light and fluffy (approximately 1-2 minutes).

Add the egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and mix until just incorporated. Add the flour and chocolate chips and stir well to combine.

Drop the cookie batter over the brownie batter in tablespoon sizes and gently spread across the batter with an offset spatula. Place additional chocolate chips atop the spread-out cookie batter.

Cover the pan with foil for the first 12-15 minutes of baking. Remove foil and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes. Watch for a light golden-brown color on the cookie batter. Insert a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s ready. Let the pan cool completely. If transferring to a serving plate, use the two parchment paper flaps to lift the brownie slab out of the pan.

Real Hot Chocolate

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined. Bring milk to a light simmer, and add vanilla and dry mixture. Stir thoroughly with a whisk to combine and completely dissolve sugar. Be careful not to overheat and scald the milk. Store in a reliable thermos (milk must remain hot). 10 servings. Shake thermos before serving.

Cost Calculations
Because a majority of the brookie bookie ingredients were bought in bulk, the cost for this satisfying dessert is around 10 bucks in 2021 dollars. The recipe serves 10, making the unit cost a little over one dollar.

Keeping food costs down includes many strategies, none more important than buying ingredients in bulk, which reduces the per unit cost and is a big advantage if you use the items frequently. The savings will add up quickly. This approach can significantly reduce how much you pay annually on supplies and products. Be sure to choose the items you buy in bulk wisely to avoid getting more than you can use.

Jack Hennessy is an outdoor-cooking writer, guide, hunter, and angler. You can reach out to him on Instagram @wildgamejack.

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