Rocky road ice cream remains one of the great treats of summer. It's chocolate ice cream interrupted by nuts and marshmallows. As an irrepressible baker, I decided to see how cookies for a summer picnic would embrace this trio of ingredients.

In short order, a deluge of miniature (and regulation-size) marshmallows, chocolate in all forms and strengths and masses of crunchy nuts took over all visible surfaces of my kitchen.

This rocky road invasion was serious research: What types of mixtures could support the addition of these components? How would the intensity of a chocolate batter or dough play against the chopped nuts and meltdown of marshmallows? And what about incorporating other baking staples into a rocky road-infused batter, such as flavored chips or flaked coconut?

Now the report is in: Rocky road brownies and cookies are a terrific accompaniment or alternative to this popular ice cream. Here's how to make them:

* A thick, brownielike batter turned out to be the ideal. A lighter, silkier batter was unable to keep nuts or marshmallows in suspension.

* Marshmallows, as they faded into the batter during baking, gave the baked sweet a chewy quality, which I love. Use miniature marshmallows -- they disperse evenly in a batter and are handy to use.

* A dark chocolate batter (made with unsweetened chocolate alone, or in combination with unsweetened cocoa) turned out to be the best background for the marshmallows and nuts. A dash of chocolate chips (both standard and miniature-size) and flaked coconut was a treat.

* Almonds, walnuts, pecans, roasted peanuts and macadamia nuts can be used interchangeably in any of the rocky road batters. Use fresh, unsalted nuts.

* A cream cheese topping turned out to be a fabulous (and fabulously rich) topping for a bottom layer of rocky road batter.

Double Chocolate-Pecan

Rocky Road Brownies

Makes 32 brownies

This batch of brownies is as dense as fudge. The pecans and marshmallows are almost lost in the triple dose of chocolate: semisweet chocolate chips, cocoa and unsweetened chocolate.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus additional for the pan

11/4 cups flour, plus additional for the pan

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, such as Droste

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

4 large eggs

2 cups less 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) miniature marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter and flour a 9-by-9-by-2 inch baking pan, tapping out any excess flour.

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently, until completely melted. Remove from the heat; stir until blended. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the chocolate chips and pecans with 2 teaspoons of the flour mixture. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 45 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk until lightly thickened, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, add the chocolate-butter mixture and mix just until combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix just until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix just until it is completely incorporated into the batter. Add the chocolate chip-pecan mixture and the marshmallows.

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan. Using a rubber spatula, level the top, taking care to smooth it into the corners.

Bake the brownies at 325 degrees just until set, 35 to 38 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 4 hours. Refrigerate until firm enough to cut, 20 to 30 minutes. Cut the brownies into quarters, and cut each quarter into 4 squares. Store in an airtight tin.

Per piece: 134 calories, 2 gm protein, 9 gm carbohydrates, 11 gm fat, 42 mg cholesterol, 6 gm saturated fat, 33 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Mocha-Walnut Rocky Road Bars

Makes 24 bars

The marshmallows seemingly melt into the batter, resulting in a bar reminiscent of those chocolate cakes with the molten center.

2 teaspoons instant (not granular) espresso powder

11/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

11/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour, plus additional for the pan

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa, such as Droste

1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted*

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus additional for the pan

4 large eggs

2 cups less 1 tablespoon superfine sugar

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) miniature marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9-by-9-by-2 inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine the espresso powder and vanilla extract; set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. In a bowl, toss the chocolate chips and walnuts with 11/2 teaspoons of the flour mixture. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently, until completely melted. Remove from the heat; stir until blended. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 45 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, blend in the chocolate-butter mixture. Blend in the coffee mixture. Let stand for 2 minutes. Blend in the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chip-walnut mixture and the marshmallows.

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, taking care to smooth it into the corners. Level the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake the bars at 325 degrees just until set, 35 to 38 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 4 hours. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut the cake into quarters. and cut each quarter into 6 bars. Store in an airtight tin.

*NOTE: To toast the nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and bake in a 325-degree oven for about 6 minutes. Cool completely.

Per piece: 236 calories, 3 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 56 mg cholesterol, 7 g saturated fat, 43 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Layered Macadamia-White Chocolate Rocky Road Bars

Makes 24 bars

A simple cookie-crust bottom forms the base for the fudgy batter laden with white chocolate and nuts. If you prefer a terrifically dotted bar, add an extra handful of chocolate chips, nuts and/or marshmallows.

For the chocolate cookie layer:

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for the pan

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

11/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons chocolate wafer crumbs

For the rocky road batter:

1 cup flour

1/4 cup cake flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa, such as Droste

1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate

1/2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, toasted*

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 large eggs

2 cups less 2 tablespoons superfine sugar

11/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) miniature marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-9 by-2 inch baking pan.

For the chocolate cookie layer: In a small bowl, combine the butter and vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the chocolate wafer crumbs evenly over the batter. Using a spatula, lightly press the crumbs into the butter mixture. Bake the cookie layer at 325 degrees for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the rocky road batter: In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts with 11/4 teaspoons of the flour mixture. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the unsweetened chocolate and butter until thoroughly blended. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for 1 minute. Add the sugar and whisk until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, blend in the chocolate-butter mixture. Blend in the vanilla extract. Blend in the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated into the batter. Mix in the white chocolate chip-macadamia nut mixture and the marshmallows.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and carefully spread the batter evenly without disturbing the cookie layer. Level the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake the bars at 325 degrees just until set, 35 to 38 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 hours. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut the cake into quarters and cut each quarter into 6 bars. Store in an airtight tin.

*NOTE: To toast the nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and bake in a 325-degree oven for about 6 minutes. Cool completely.

Per piece: 293 calories, 3 gm protein, 30 gm carbohydrates, 19 gm fat, 67 mg cholesterol, 10 gm saturated fat, 97 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

Recipes tested by The Washington Post; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

Lisa Yockelson is the author of "Baking by Flavor" (2002) and the forthcoming "ChocolateChocolate" (2005) both published by John Wiley & Sons Inc.