Thursday, July 28, 2011

s'mores from scratch.

For the past several weeks of the summer, my circle of friends have held weekly "supper clubs," a potluck dinner once a week that quickly became themed. This week, we hosted the get-together at our house, and the theme was "Campfire." It started as a joke, but became plausible. The only caveat was that "You aren't required to cook your food over an open fire, but if someone asks, you'd better be able to explain how you would." James made homemade s'mores: homemade graham crackers, homemade marshmallows, and, of course chocolate (but not just any chocolate), and I helped some. This was mostly his baking project, so I asked him to do a guest post.

["campfire" s'mores]

I'm not sure where I got the idea to make s'mores at home, but it somehow became an obsession over the past few weeks. S'mores are simple: a marshmallow caramelized on the outside and melty on the inside gluing together two graham crackers and beginning to melt a square of chocolate. I was determined to take the simple formula to its point of full potential, and I knew where to start.

I had made graham crackers from scratch a few months ago to procrastinate from studying for a test, and they came out with a richness and depth (and crunch, of course) that was really quite satisfying. From there, I asked if I could "kick it up" another notch, and decided to donate the rest of my 70% dark chocolate bar to the cause. All that was left was the marshmallows, and as Janelle pointed out, "if you can make graham crackers at home, you can make marshmallows."

Alton Brown came to the rescue again (as a materials science student, I appreciate that man's style), and before long I was making candy in our kitchen. With a bowl of cold water standing in for a candy thermometer (you know how to do that, don't you?) and my wife running the hand mixer, we were underway! Except for an explosion of marshmallow cream in our kitchen when the bowl ran away from the mixer, they came out beautifully.

[marshmallows ready to go under the broiler]

While the marshmallows set, I melted down the chocolate bar and dipped the graham crackers in it, then put them in the fridge to cool. The marshmallows, once they were done, we popped under the broiler for a couple of minutes until they were good and brown, then scooped their gooey messes onto the waiting chocolate-covered crackers and served them immediately. The result was every bit as gooey and satisfying as the campfire kind, with three times as much flavor. I'll tell you the secret to amazing marshmallows -- use top-shelf vanilla.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh. How cool are you two? (answer: pretty darn cool.) Major props on the homemade graham crackers & marshmallows, James! I'm so extremely impressed! Those are both one of those things I would never have even thought of daring to try to make at home.

    Janelle, I just caught up on all of the posts I've missed since the one about strawberries. I hope you keep posting or post even more from Seattle! I love your pictures, Etsy finds, creative ideas, and fresh recipes.