S’mores – rainy days can bring sweet inspiration!

S'mores | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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

Candied Pecans:

30 pecan halves

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Pinch salt

Almond Meringue:

½ cup egg whites (about 5 large)

1 cup sugar

Pinch salt

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.

Cutting homemade graham crackers | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Baking homemade graham crackers | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Chocolate ganache on graham crackers | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Once the ganache is set up, spread 1 teaspoon on 24 of the cookies.

Graham crackers with ganache and coconut | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Place about 1 teaspoon of the coconut on each chocolate covered cookie.

Piping ganache on graham crackers | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Using a small pastry bag (see video on making a paper pastry bag) or spoon, drop ¼ teaspoon of the ganache over the coconut.

Placing pecans on chocolate covered graham crackers | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Whipped meringue with stiff peak | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Piping meringue onto chocolate covered graham crackers | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Using a Pastry Bag fitted with a large Pastry Tip, pipe out a peak of the meringue.

Homemade s'mores | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

It should look like soft serve ice cream.

Torching homemade s'mores | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Homemade s'mores | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Reinvented S’mores.

"s'mores"

The inspiration. (Sue and Anton)

The setting.

"s'mores"

The baker.

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!”

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

    1. Hi Jan,

      What fun, if you are with the right people, nothing can spoil the day! What a lovely story and her marshmallows are gorgeous!

      Cheers, Zoë

  5. 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 😉

  6. 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

  7. 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…

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. Hi Marilyn,

      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.

      Cheers, Zoë

  10. Hi Zoe,

    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!

    1. Hi Jes,

      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.

      Zoë

  11. 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.

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