Sometimes great ideas can come from the strangest places. Who would have imagined that spending my birthday, in the rain, making S’mores with people I didn’t know could have been so much fun and such creative inspiration? In November my good friend and partner in many culinary adventures, Jen, treated me to a luxurious night at a resort. As bad luck would have it, it was pissing rain all night, which may have stopped the average souls from sharing a bottle of wine by the beach. Jen and I bundled up, grabbed blankets, umbrellas and sat in the rain by the fire. Apparently this scene was odd enough to attract the attention of a lovely, adventure seeking couple (Sue and Anton), who pulled up a soaking wet bench and joined us. The only thing missing in this rather bizzarre setting were sticks with marshmallows. Not for long! Sue disappeared and came back with a “S’more kit.” It seemed perfectly right at the moment to be drinking a lovely bottle of red wine and singeing marshmallows in the fire, while balancing an umbrella. They were perfection, albeit too sweet and not as good as I remember them from childhood. The concept of chocolate sandwiched between graham crackers and toasted puffs of whipped sugar is brilliant, but once you hit 40, one’s taste-buds crave a little more complexity and less unadorned SWEET.
This moment deserved remembering and the S’more begged to be reinvented. This small bite of homemade cinnamon graham cookies, chocolate ganache and toasted almond meringue is my take on the classic. But, I added a hidden treasure. Under the cloud of meringue lies coconut and a candied pecan. The texture and richness of the nut are just what the S’more was always missing for me. I suggest you bring them to a superbowl party, but leave a few at home to snack on later.
Homemade Graham Cracker Cookies:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
¼ cup honey
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
Cinnamon-sugar (1/4 cup sugar mixed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon) for the top
Milk Chocolate Ganache:
6 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
30 pecan halves
3 tablespoons maple syrup
½ cup egg whites (about 5 large)
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon almond extract
To prepare the Graham crackers:
Preheat oven to 350°F
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper
In a stand mixer fitted with a Beater Blade paddle, cream together the butter and sugar, until the butter is light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the molasses and honey, mix for another minute. In a small bowl, combine the flours and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and mix on low speed until just combined. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes or overnight.
Once the dough is firm, roll it out on a well-floured surface until it is 1/16-inch thick. Use a 1 to 1 ½ -inch Ateco 5357 11 Piece Plain Round Cutter Set to cut out the circles. Place them on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes or just until golden.
Allow to cool completely. These cookies can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container.
Prepare the milk chocolate ganache:
In a small pot warm the cream over low heat, just until it starts to simmer around the edges. Add the chopped chocolate and swirl the pot to make sure the chocolate is submerged. Let sit for one minute and then gently stir until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and cool to room temperature. Can be made the day ahead.
Prepare the candied pecans:
In a small bowl, mix together the nuts, syrup and salt. Place the nuts on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or lightly greased. Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes, or until the nuts are nicely toasted and the syrup is slightly caramelized. Set aside and cool. Can be made the day ahead.
Once the ganache is set up, spread 1 teaspoon on 24 of the cookies.
Place about 1 teaspoon of the coconut on each chocolate covered cookie.
Using a small pastry bag (see video on making a paper pastry bag) or spoon, drop ¼ teaspoon of the ganache over the coconut.
Press one of the candied pecans onto the ganache.
To prepare the meringue:
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites, sugar and salt. It will be very thick and grainy.
Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir it with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. Brush the sides down with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted.
Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth, put the bowl on the mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium high speed.
Whip until it is light, fluffy, glossy and the bowl feels just about room temperature. Once the eggs are whipped add the almond extract and whip for a few more seconds.
Using a Pastry Bag fitted with a large Pastry Tip, pipe out a peak of the meringue.
It should look like soft serve ice cream.
Use a Blow Torch to toast the meringues. (If you want to do this under a broiler, you need to work quickly so the ganache won’t melt.) Serve immediately or refrigerate, uncovered for a few hours.
The inspiration. (Sue and Anton)
Thank you Jen for another wonderful adventure in the rain! Thanks to Sue and Anton for inspiring this dessert, which garnered rave reviews from the party I brought them to. My favorite of which went something like this…”These are %$#@ing amazing!”
36 thoughts to “S’mores – rainy days can bring sweet inspiration!”
Love this post! Great story and great-looking recipe.
Some of my very best memories of growing up were campfire picnics, and the fun of roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. Your beautiful creations remind me that you can go back, and in a wonderfully luxurious and sophisticated way. What a great way to end a dinner party or make an afternoon treat for the family.
They look delicious!
LOVE this post!! That night was SO much fun, and, as usual – the rain did nothing but add some ambiance! Didn’t do much for the cheese and bread we were eating – but I don’t remember it impacting the wine?! 😉 A great birthday party!
The re-creation of the s’mores looks fantastic! Can’t wait to try them. NOW all we have to do is re-create the evening itself again. The sooner, the better! xo J
Those look GREAT! The s’mores vibe must be going around – I blogged a s’mores cake today. Maybe it’s because we’re exactly 6 months from summertime?
Seeing those …. you just made me want to buy a blow torch. Gorgeous!
Time to dust out my blow torch!
What a fantastic way to spend a birthday!
I love everything about the dessert. And it gives me the perfect excuse to FINALLY buy my blowtorch! 😀
I adore that first photo – so beautiful! Adding these to my list of things to bake…
What fun to read of your s’mores around the fire. Your experience triggered the memory of a granddaughter’s wedding this last summer. Both my granddaughters were married this summer, and the second wedding was a beautiful waterfront/parent’s yard wedding. The weather was nice in the morning, but by wedding time the wind had whipped up and the skies were gray, but it didn’t deter the joy one bit.
After the wedding feast, the bonfire was lit and we had s’mores and champagne. My first-married granddaughter had made three flavors of homemade marshmallows and set up a s’more station at the fire’s edge. Her description of her marshmallow making event is on her blog. http://pinthere-donethat.com/category/wedding/ I’m going to pass your version on to her.
What fun, if you are with the right people, nothing can spoil the day! What a lovely story and her marshmallows are gorgeous!
What a fantastic birthday you had 🙂 Without the rain it would have been nowhere near as fun and inspiring. Beautiful dessert.
When I opened this post from Google Reader, I actually yelped, “holy crap,” when I saw the first picture. Thanks for kicking off my day on the right foot!
This is such a fun post! I’ve always wanted to make my own graham crackers and wedge some peanut butter between them. Yum!
These are so beautiful! I love them.
Zoe – wonderful memories! Sue and I were back there this week and it just wasn’t the same without the rain, s’mores and you! Thanks for not mentioning the multiple fiery marshmallow failures 😉
since i am the mom of two boy scouts, i find myself around a campfire more than most people. i discovered that using semisweet instead of milk chocolate makes for a much better smore… although i am going to have to try this gussied up version… mmmm
These look amazing! We don’t have smores in the UK and I think its definitely our loss!
These s’mores are stunning! And the best part is – no marshmallow fluff! I have featured your post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup. Let me know if you have any objections and thanks for the inspiration…
Zoe–that night started a bit of a S’mores craze for me and Anton in the following wintery weeks, though none were as fabulous as our night out in the windy, cold, rain!! Your reinvented S’mores look scruptious and with the added benefit of no singed eyebrows to worry about!
Hi Susan, Jen and Anton,
We need to have a reunion! Perhaps during rainy season.
Be still my heart, I think I’m in love! And a great reason to get out the torch ;). Love all the great pics. Have a nice weekend.
Hi, Zoe! These look FABULOUS! However, for me, S’mores are all about marshmallow and chocolate together. Is there any way to make it a marshmallow fluff thing instead of meringue? Help, please!
Absolutely, you can pipe the fluff on them instead of meringue. It is tighter, so it will be tougher to pipe, so I recommend going for a simple marshmallow-esque blob. Then you can toast them and it will be lovely.
My family and I will be staying in San Gimignano for about 5 days in the not-too-distant future and I would be so grateful to know where you got those amazing Ricciarelli cookies featured in your “Almond Chiffon Cake” post (1/11/11). I think it’s the first thing I want to try. In fact, any information on any bakery worth trying in the area will be really appreciated!
I know this is a little off-topic, sorry, – although the s’mores look divine!
I can’t remember the name of the bakery, but it is right before you enter the main gates to the city, across the street from the large park. There is a bakery and I think next door is a leather store?
There is another bakery right after you enter the main gate, it is a on the left hand side of the street. Again I don’t recall the name, but there are greenish banquets along the wall. Here is the post that has a picture, so you can recognize it. The pastries were lovely. http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2010/09/22/wood-fired-oven-in-italy-a-love-affair
Enjoy your stay, it is a wonderful city. We didn’t eat at the restaurants, but shopped at the market and cheese shop. There is also a famous gelato shop in the heart of the town. Try every flavor.
Zoe, Zoe, Zoe…
I am in love with all desserts that you prepare. But I have to say that the S’mores are special! My mouth is watering just to look at them.
Thank you for this post and keep doing a fantastic job.
Stunning. Just like you! And I love the story.
I love the story – and I also agree with you about the memories of those childhood s’mores not quite holding up in reality once we hit a certain age. Your gorgeous mouthfuls are perfect! And actually not so complicated to make! Yay! Maybe I’ll treat myself to these on my next birthday.
Love s’mores! Happy Birthday too! I pinned your videos for apple pie and dough making! Thanks for always posting such wonderful recipes!
those lil cookies are so cute and looks so yummy! Happy memories.. 🙂
What a fun, delicious adventure! Great post and lovely “grown-up” smores 🙂
~ marie, the EpicureanPiranha
Be still, my heart! Yowzah!
I tried your recipe and everyone loved the S’mores rejuvinated
thank you for sharing
Thank you for trying the recipe! So glad you enjoyed it.