What the heck happened to summer? I realize that by the calendar, we still have almost seven weeks (and I will continue to blog as such!), but I can feel it fading. The neighborhood kids are going back to school tomorrow, and I was mildly freaked out to see racks and racks of fall clothes at the mall yesterday. (At least that means football is coming, right?)
In my mind, this means we’d better enjoy as much summer fare as we can before it’s back to roasted squash and simmering stews. And what’s the quintessential summer dessert? S’mores, of course! Today’s recipe is a dressed-up version you can use as a fun ending to the most adult dinner party, but kids love it as well (and I have the evidence!).
Vegetable oil, for brushing
4 packages unflavored gelatin (or 3 tablespoons)
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 6 tablespoons room temperature, plus more for pan
14 graham crackers, crushed to yield 1 1/2 cups crumbs
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
Brush a 9-x-13-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil. Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper large enough to cover the bottom of the dish and to overhang the longer sides. Place the parchment in the dish, brush with oil, and set dish aside.
Pour 3/4 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer, and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let stand 5 minutes.
Place 3 cups granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Set saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer, and cook until mixture reaches soft-ball stage (238 degrees, about 9 minutes).
Using the whisk attachment, beat hot syrup into gelatin on low speed. Gradually increasing speed to high, beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish, and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Set dish aside, uncovered, until marshmallow becomes firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Place 1 cup confectioners’ sugar in a fine strainer, and sift onto a clean work surface. Invert large marshmallow onto the sugar-coated surface, and peel off the parchment paper. Lightly brush a sharp knife with vegetable oil, and cut marshmallow into 2-inch squares. Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, and roll marshmallows in sugar to coat. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 9-inch square baking pan with melted butter. In a large bowl, combine graham-cracker crumbs, 7 tablespoons melted butter, and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Using your hands, press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Transfer pan to oven, and bake until the crust has set, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and transfer to wire rack to cool.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer. In a medium heat-proof bowl, combine chocolate with remaining 6 tablespoons butter. Set the bowl over the simmering water, and stir until chocolate and butter have melted. Pour chocolate mixture over cooled graham-cracker crust. Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate mixture into an even layer. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Cut chocolate crust into nine 3-inch squares. Top each square with a marshmallow, and place assembled s’mores under the broiler just until marshmallows turn golden brown, about 20 seconds. Serve immediately.
Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 1998
Talk about a decadent dessert. WOW. The end result was really delicious but super rich; my group of tasters concluded that the chocolate was the culprit. I used Baker’s semisweet for this batch, but I’m going to use Hershey’s milk chocolate (the classic!) next time around. I might also play with the amount of chocolate in my next batch, though I’m not sure that half would be quite enough. Additionally, I’ll probably cut the graham cracker base into a dozen squares instead of nine to make it easier to finish one off (though the size does make this a visually impressive dessert!).
This marshmallow recipe is pure perfection, everybody. These were the most gorgeous, fluffy marshmallows I’ve ever made (and I’ve made lots), AND they taste exactly like Jet-Puffed marshmallows (a plus in my book). Whenever I have a recipe that calls for marshmallow from here on out, I’m going to use these. Also, this recipe makes more than double the amount of marshmallow you’ll actually need for the s’mores, so you’ll have plenty around for snacks.
So what else do I love about this recipe? The same thing I love about so many things I post on this blog, which is “make-ahead-ability.” The marshmallows will keep in an airtight container for about two weeks, and the chocolate-covered graham cracker squares can be kept in the refrigerator for at least two or three days. If you have the components made, all you have to do is preheat the broiler, put the squares on a baking sheet, put marshmallows on the squares, and put the treats under the broiler for 20 seconds. That’s about as easy as it gets.
A note about browning the marshmallows: I thought it might be OK to use a kitchen torch instead of the broiler, but that quite literally just browns the marshmallows. You totally miss out on the ooey-gooeyness that the oven time creates. Also, if you make too many s’mores, I discovered that they’re quite good reheated the next day. Just let them cool completely, put them in an airtight container, and then pop them in the microwave for 15 – 20 seconds when you’re ready to enjoy.
TIP: Since I live at 5900 feet, I had to adjust the temperature of my sugar and corn syrup mixture to make the marshmallow. Water boils at 202°F at my house (instead of 212°F at sea level), so I took the mixture off of the stove at 228°F instead of 238°F. Also, I had an incredible amount of powdered sugar waste after I cut and rolled my marshmallows; I think you could get away with sifting only 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar onto the work surface, rather than a full cup.
Update 4/23/12: I made these last night for friends with two modifications. First, I used 9 ounces of Hershey’s milk chocolate instead of 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate. I liked the flavor of the Hershey’s better, and the chocolate layer was a perfect thickness. Also, one of my dinner guests from last night can’t have gluten, so I made the crust with Kinnikinnick S’moreables (and made sure to get 1.55-ounce Hershey bars, which apparently is the only size Hershey guarantees as gluten free). Using the alternative graham cracker changed the texture of the crust a bit, but the dessert was still delicious.
Recipe link: S’More Squares