It’s an iconic memory from so many childhoods: carefully rotating a marshmallow over a fire until it gets puffy and brown, then sandwiching it between graham crackers and squares of a Hershey chocolate bar. Making s’mores was a rite of summer, whether it was done at camp, a beach bonfire or over a backyard hibachi.
S’mores are no longer just for kids and camp outs, though. S’mores stations, equipped with an assortment of meltable chocolate and crunchy cookies, are popping up at wedding receptions and parties. Tastemakers such as Starbucks, which launched a tsunami of a thousand pumpkin spice-flavored foods, have moved on to capturing the taste of freshly toasted s’mores. Even the Girl Scouts, who certainly know this way around a campfire, have added a s’mores variety to their annual cookie sale.
Adult versions of the gooey treat try to push the envelope by swapping out the chocolate for other candy. One popular version stuffs a Rolo candy inside the marshmallow so that there is a chocolate and caramel center to the s’mores. Another involves cutting a slit in the marshmallow and sliding a glob of Nutella into the center before toasting.
If your teeth are starting to hurt just reading about these souped-up sugar bombs, it may be better to simplify the s’more. Using chocolate graham crackers and eliminating the chocolate candy bar dials the sugar content back to a bearable level.
It’s also possible to re-create the taste of s’mores without either a campfire or a trip to the coffee shop. Lodge, the cast-iron skillet company, developed a skillet-sized s’more filling that browns the marshmallows in a hot oven. Graham crackers are then used to scoop the molten marshmallow-chocolate mixture out of the skillet.
Like the coffee version, skillet s’mores are an adult treat, since they are served in a hot skillet, though the cast iron does have the advantage of keeping the marshmallows and chocolate warm and pliable for a long while. Skillet s’mores also allow some flexibility in the marshmallow-to-chocolate ratio: for a bigger dose of chocolate, use mini-marshmallows, and for a classic balance, use regular-size marshmallows. Those with an oversized sweet tooth can match it with an oversized top layer, thanks to the newest development, jumbo marshmallows the size of two or three regular ones. (The jumbo size are great for toasting, because the crispy brown toasted outside can be pulled off, and then the rest of the marshmallow can be re-roasted)
Mini-marshmallows also add the flavor of s’mores to popcorn and baked bars. It’s the combination of chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker that defines s’mores (without the graham cracker, it would just be rocky road, and without the chocolate, it would just be ... unfortunate). Those three ingredients can be mixed into brownies, blondies, cupcakes or just about anything sweet.
The challenge of making s’mores treats is to keep them from being “too” sweet. After all, the childhood memories are sweet enough already.