Nothing says “summer in America” like baseball and s’mores. The two have a new connection this year with the arrival of the Rocky Mountain Vibes Minor League team and its mascot, Toasty — a s’more look-alike, with graham cracker “earmuffs,” a marshmallow head and red and yellow flames for hair.
To get into the spirit of the new team — which throws out its first pitch June 21 — we’re going to toast the yummy treat that the mascot resembles. Basic s’mores are super easy to make. You put a hot, toasted marshmallow on a graham cracker, top it with a square of chocolate and another graham cracker, then squish the crackers to melt the chocolate into a gooey, crunchy, chocolatey cookie.
But why settle for common ingredients? Cortney Smith and David Cook, co-owners of Gather Food Studio, suggest making your own marshmallows and graham crackers and jazzing it up with different takes on the chocolate.
“Homemade marshmallows are little pillows of heaven,” Smith said. “I love having them in a s’more because they melt much better and are creamier than the store-bought marshmallows.”
And she’s not talking your basic marshmallow.
“You can also flavor your marshmallows with chocolate, orange, mint or any other flavor that you may like to pair with your chocolate,” she said. “By making them yourself, you can also make them in the same square shape as your graham crackers and have a s’more with everything in the right ratio. Or, if you’re like me, you can make the graham crackers and marshmallows round and put a peanut butter cup inside instead of the traditional chocolate bar.”
She makes her own graham crackers for the same reason she makes the marshmallows: They taste better.
“And they’re really simple to make. They’re heartier and a little less sweet, which is nice when you are loading it up with sweet marshmallows and chocolate.”
You also can choose your graham cracker’s size or form them into the perfect square, without the perforation, so they don’t break when you take your first bite.
“Plus, you know that they aren’t filled with preservatives and additives,” she said. “You do need to use graham flour, which you can find at Mountain Mama’s. They (graham crackers) were actually invented as a health food. The graham crackers that we eat today bear little resemblance to how Dr. Graham originally intended them.”
When entertaining, Smigh sets up a s’mores bar.
“I set a basket of graham crackers, a tray of marshmallows and an assorted basket of different candy bars that everyone can mix and match,” she said. “It’s also a great dessert for entertaining because it can all be made the day ahead (the marshmallows need to set overnight). And then set out your goodies, and guests can make them on their own.”
Cook offered some off-the-beaten-path s’more combos.
“Strawberry and/or banana with Nutella is always a classic combination,” he said. “And to add the adventure, if you have any leftover Girl Scout cookies, this is a great place to use them up instead of graham crackers.”
Not a chocolate fan? Cook has an answer to that.
“For all of the people who don’t love dark or milk chocolate, why not skewer some pineapple and char it over the open flames while you are toasting your marshmallows? And then sandwich it together with white chocolate.
“For the completely insane,” he continued, “I have always loved the flavors of chocolate and chile. We always have some Pueblo green chile powder laying around, so I like to toast my marshmallows and sprinkle them with the green chile powder (you could also use chipotle chile powder) and s’more it all up with a big Reese’s peanut butter cup between two pretzel crisps.”
Here are some classic s’more recipes to try. Then serve them with the game on, and root, root, root for the home team.
Homemade Graham Crackers
Yield: 12 servings
8.3 ounces graham flour
1.8 ounces all-purpose flour
3 ounces dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
2 ounces molasses
1.8 - 2 ounces whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
Add the molasses, milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. Press the ball into a 1/2-inch thick disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Unwrap the chilled dough and place it onto a large piece of parchment paper and top with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out until it is 1/8-inch thick.
Slide the rolled dough and parchment paper onto a half sheet pan. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a rolling pizza cutter, into 2-inch square pieces, by making vertical and then horizontal cuts all the way across the dough. Trim off any excess. Or cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the dough.
Leave the crackers on the pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. Remove from the oven, set the sheet pan with the crackers on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once completely cool, break into individual crackers and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Source: Gather — A Food Studio
Yield: 12 servings
6 gelatin sheets
¼ cup water
½ cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar to dust
Prepare a jelly roll pan by spraying with nonstick spray and lining with wax paper. Dust wax paper with a generous layer of powdered sugar. This will keep your marshmallows from sticking, so make sure to cover the entire surface.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add water, corn syrup and sugar. Let boil until sugar is clear and mixture thickens, to 235 degrees.
While making the sugar syrup, bloom gelatin in a large bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. After gelatin has bloomed, remove and wring out water. Place in a medium bowl.
Add ½ cup hot sugar syrup to gelatin sheets and mix until sheets have dissolved.
In a stand mixer, add remaining hot sugar syrup. Mix on high. Slowly drizzle gelatin mixture into stand mixer. Mix until volume has doubled in size and has stiff peaks.
Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Dust with more powdered sugar and cover with an additional layer of wax paper. Wrap with plastic wrap. Let marshmallows set 4-6 hours. Cut into squares.
Source: Gather — A Food Studio