Amore S’mores!

Although we missed National S’mores Day on Aug. 10, we can celebrate it belatedly this Monday, conveniently named “National Toasted Marshmallow Day.” As the summer winds down, let’s pay tribute to this season’s quintessential treat.

Catherine L. Kaufman

Catherine L. Kaufman

How did it all begin?

Maybe one day Jet-Puffed called Nabisco Honey Grahams and Hershey’s Chocolate Bar and said, “Let’s party!” Naaah. The marriage of marshmallow, chocolate and cookie occurred in the late 1800s, introduced by a Scottish company who marketed Tunnock Teacakes, layering a marshmallow on a crispy biscuit then enveloping the treat in dark chocolate.

Moon Pies, an American knockoff, followed in the Roaring ’20s. But the first mention of s’mores and the recipe for this decadent sandwich appeared in a 1927 handbook, “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.”

• Marshmallow, in its original form, was a medicinal herb classified as Althaea officinalis, which is native to Europe and West Asia and thrives in wet, marshy, environs, ergo the name. Nineteenth-century French gastronomes have as solid a claim as any to the modern day confection when they whipped the gummy root juices into a frothy paste with sugar and eggs. Later the plant juices were replaced with gelatin to give the marshmallow is fluffy, pillowy texture.

• The second component of the s’mores, the Graham cracker, was created by the man who bears its name. In the late 1920s, Sylvester Graham, a vegetarian and pioneer health-food guru, concocted a crisp, high-fiber bread made from non-sifted whole-wheat flour cut into bite-size squares.

• Finally, entrepreneur Milton Hershey was inspired by the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to enter the world of cocoa. He purchased German machinery to hone the art of chocolate making at his home in Pennsylvania. For years he tinkered with perfecting the recipe for milk chocolate, a coveted Swiss secret. Concocting the winning formula enabled him to find his bliss — the Hershey Bar — that was mass-produced and distributed for all wallets to enjoy.

To assemble a classic s’more

Arrange three piles of Graham crackers cut in half or in squares, jumbo marshmallows and a quarter of a Hershey Bar. Thread three or four marshmallows on a metal skewer or long wooden stick, and toast over a campfire, gas grill or in your oven. Like Baby Bear’s porridge, they should be done just right  — toasted evenly without any charred spots.

Place a chocolate chunk on the cracker, gingerly remove each marshmallow, and layer one on top of the chocolate. Create a sandwich with a second Graham square. Wait one minute for the mallow to melt the chocolate, then dig in.

Health-conscious version

Make your own crackers and marshmallows, or buy organic, and use bittersweet chocolate with cocoa content of 70-percent or higher for a dose of heart-healthy antioxidants.

Vegans can buy kosher marshmallows that don’t have animal by-products (gelatin) or swap out the mallows altogether and replace with bananas, giving an extra boost of potassium.

Graham Crackers

If you make your own s’mores components from scratch, you’ll never go back. Start with the Graham crackers, and for the marshmallows, please e-mail me at

kitchenshrink@san.rr.com

Ingredients

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup white sugar

1 tablespoon liquid honey

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup whole wheat or graham flour

¼ cup butter, unsalted

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

A few drops vanilla extract

Method: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  In a food processor or bowl of an electric mixer blend sugar, butter, extract and honey until smooth. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture, and blend well.

Divide dough in half and roll each piece between sheets of parchment paper to 1/8-inch thick. Slide onto baking sheets and freeze for about 15 minutes until firm. Remove top parchment sheet, and cut into 2 ½- by 4-inch rectangles with a pizza cutter. Prick with a fork.

Bake 15-18 minutes or to golden brown. Cool and store in airtight containers for 1 week.

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Posted by Staff on Aug 24, 2011. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Kitchen Shrink. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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