S’mores have long held the seat of honor at summer bonfires. The promise of melty chocolate and perfectly golden marshmallows sandwiched between two squares of graham crackers will quickly send kids running to look for the perfect roasting stick. It’s no question that these messy, decadent outdoor treats are worthy of the attention paid to them. But sometimes we food-loving types like to try something new; to mix things up; to discover new campfire traditions. For you, I recommend the banana boat.
I was lucky enough to spend ten summers of my life attending a camp for girls in New Hampshire. Days were spent swimming, boating, making popsicle stick art in the craft shop, and creating life-long friendships. We were all obsessed with the food: hating some of it and revering the rest of it (grilled cheese sandwich day was particularly popular among the masses). It was no surprise then that one of the most popular evening activities were the nights when our counselors would bring out the boxes of marshmallows, Hersey’s chocolate bars and graham crackers and lead us down the wooded path toward the bonfire pit.
One summer, though, we were all surprised when one of our trusted counselors pulled out bunches of bananas and rolls of tin foil instead of the customary boxes of graham crackers. She patiently showed each of us how to slice the bananas down the center length-wise, carefully filling them with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, and rolling them tightly in foil. We then nestled the foil packages into the embers of the fire; telling stories and singing songs as we waited for our special treats. When our leaders safely retrieved the banana boats, we tossed them back and forth, impatiently waiting for the foil to cool enough for us to unwrap what seemed like our own little portable banana splits (minus the ice cream, of course).
I don’t recall how exactly we ate them back then–I can imagine that we made quite a mess of ourselves by eating the banana boats with our hands or straight into our mouths from the packages. This time around, though, we mature folks used spoons to enjoy the banana boats. Next time I think I might offer up ginger snaps or ‘Nilla wafers so that eaters can make their own little cookie/banana/chocolate/marshmallow sandwiches as they enjoy their banana boats.
Fair warning: banana boats aren’t the prettiest of desserts. The banana skins blacken and the insides mesh together in an insanely delicious, gooey mess. But when camping or simply enjoying the backyard, does it really matter?
Serves 4 (can easily be multiplied)
- 4 bananas
- ½ chocolate chips (I like dark chocolate, but use whatever your group prefers)
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- Tin foil
- Bonfire pit, grill or oven
- Peanut butter
- Peanut butter chips
To aid you in eating the Banana Boats:
- ‘Nilla Wafers
- Ginger snaps
- Graham crackers
- A spoon!
- Using a sharp knife, cut a slit down the curved length of each banana, making a pocket but taking care not to cut all the way through the back of the banana.
- Start stuffing your banana boat with chocolate chips, as they will help pry the banana open. Next, add the marshmallows and any other nuts or sweets. A little goes a long way here!
- Place the stuffed banana boat on a square of tin foil. Bring the corners up and crimp together the sides, creating a foil packet around the banana. Repeat with the other bananas, getting your group involved as you go.
- Carefully place the foil packets in the coals of a bonfire, on the grill, or in a 350 oven (on a rainy day or during the winter months, this is a fun, summery diversion!)
- Bonfire: about 6-8 minutes
- Grill: about 10 minutes
- Oven: about 15 minutes
Carefully remove the foil packets and allow them to cool for a few minutes. When opening, be careful of the escaping steam. Next, dig in and enjoy!
All photos styled and taken by Shelby Larsson.
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