Not to be an obnoxious girl stereotype or anything, but I was never a big math fan in school. I majored in English and American Studies, aka Touchy-Feely Theories and the Book Nerds Who Love Them. It was useless, but glorious.
Fast-forward a few years, and I now spend my days making desserts, my nights writing about them, and my (nonexistent) spare time reading my latest finds from the library. The only math I’m using regularly is switching between pounds and ounces, and converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. I can’t say I miss my days of calculus and graphing calculators.
However, I recently stumbled onto an exciting new mathematical formula that I can’t wait to share with you. It goes a little something like this:
Math has never tasted so good.
It all started with the graham-flavored mallow. I came up with a recipe for S’mores Marshmallows for the About.com Candy site, which were basically triple-layered marshmallows with graham, vanilla, and chocolate layers. They turned out cute, but the real excitement to me was the graham cracker-flavored marshmallow layer–I couldn’t believe how much it tasted like the real thing!
I give the credit for this culinary sleight-of-hand to a generous helping of honey in the marshmallow, as well as a handful of graham cracker crumbs stirred in at the end, for a slightly nubby texture. As soon as I tasted the graham mallows, I knew they were destined for great things, and they needed to be used in another dessert, where they could truly shine.
Thus, Mixed-Up S’mores were born. They have all the flavors of classic s’mores (chocolate, vanilla, and graham) and all the ingredients of classic s’mores (crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars) but it’s like the flavors and ingredients played musical chairs and everyone ended up with a new partner. Marshmallows are graham flavored! Grahams are chocolate flavored! Chocolate is vanilla flavored! Down is up, right is left, top is bottom, and these Mixed-Up S’mores are good!
Okay, that last one’s not an opposite, but it’s still true.
For the chocolate graham crackers, I adapted a recipe from King Arthur Flour. They have the classic graham cracker texture, a bit rough from whole wheat flour, and fragrant with honey and unsweetened cocoa powder. I double-baked them (like biscotti) to make sure they were extra-crisp, with the perfect “snap” we expect from crackers.
To get the full indoor s’mores experience, I used one of my favorite playthings, a torch, to toast the marshmallows and give them a crackly crust and melting interior. (My torch isn’t one of those wussy crème brulee torches, no sir. I went full metal pyro and got a big butane torch from a home improvement store. How much do I love it? Imagine me petting it and tucking it into bed at night, and you’re pretty close.)
If you don’t have a torch, you can still make a darn good version of these using your oven’s broiler, so don’t let your lack of scary fire gadgets stop you. The recipes are long, but they can be broken into smaller pieces and done over the course of several days. Enjoy!
For the chocolate graham crackers:
- 3 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup)
- 5 2/3 ounces whole wheat flour (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
- 3/4 tsp salt (3/4 cup)
- 2 1/4 ounces Dutch-processed or alkalized unsweetened cocoa powder
- 7 1/2 ounces powdered sugar (1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 6 ounces cold butter, cubed (12 tbsp)
- 2 1/4 ounces honey (3 tbsp)
- 1 1/2 ounces cold milk (3 tbsp)
For the graham-flavored marshmallows:
- 10 sheets graham crackers or 1 1/4 cups graham crumbs
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
- 2 large egg whites at room temperature
- Ivory or brown food coloring optional
To finish the s’mores:
- 6 3.5- ounce white chocolate bars I used Godiva vanilla bean
To make the chocolate graham crackers:
- Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together the two flours, salt, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and baking powder.
- Add the cubed cold butter, and use a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk together the honey and cold milk, then add the liquid to the dry ingredients, stirring with a fork until you have a shaggy, uneven dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it gently a few times, until all of the dry ingredients incorporate.
- Divide the dough in half. Place half of the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out into a rectangle at least 13 x 10 inches, and about 1/16-inch thick. You will want to end up with 12 squares that are approximately 3 x 3 inches in size, so make sure that your dough is wide enough and that you have a little wiggle room. Prick the top of the dough with a fork all over, and repeat with the second half of the dough on another baking sheet.
- Bake the crackers at 350 Fahrenheit (177 C) for 15 minutes, until they are puffed, dry, and fragrant. Remove the sheets from the oven, turn the oven off, and immediately cut the crackers into squares while they are still warm.* Return the sheets to the cooling oven and let them stay in the oven until it is cool—this second baking will really dry out the crackers and give you a nice, crisp texture. Store Chocolate Graham Crackers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. If they get soft, place them in a low oven for a few minutes to crisp back up.*
To make the graham marshmallows:
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap, and spray the wrap with nonstick cooking spray. Chop the graham crackers in a food processor until they are fine crumbs, or crush them with a rolling pin a plastic bag until they are pulverized. Set aside for a moment.
- Place 1/2 cup of cold water in a small bowl, and whisk the gelatin into the water. Let it sit and absorb the water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, both sugars, the honey, and the salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugars, then brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, insert a candy thermometer. Cook the sugar syrup to 260 degrees Fahrenheit (126 C).
- While the sugar syrup is cooking, place the egg whites in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. When the syrup reaches 250 F, start to beat the egg whites on medium speed. The goal is to have the egg whites at firm peaks when the sugar syrup reaches 260. If the whites are ready before the syrup, stop the mixer—do not overbeat them!
- Microwave the bowl of gelatin for 15 seconds, until it is liquid and smooth.
- Once at 260, remove the pan from the heat, take out the candy thermometer, and whisk the liquid gelatin into the sugar syrup. With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly and carefully stream the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites. If you have a large (4-cup) measuring cup, or other pitcher with a spout, you might want to pour the syrup into the pitcher first, to make it easier and less messy to pour into the mixing bowl.
- When all of the sugar syrup is added, gradually increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat for about 10 minutes, until the marshmallow is opaque, shiny, and very thick. When you lift the whisk from the marshmallow it should slowly stream down into the bowl in a thick ribbon. If desired, add some ivory food coloring to make the color more like that of graham crackers. Finally, stir in 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs.
- Scrape the marshmallow out onto the prepared baking sheet. Smooth it until it is a rectangle about the size of the graham sheets you made above—at least 10x13 inches. (It will probably not stretch all the way to the sides of the baking sheet—that’s okay!) Sprinkle the top of the marshmallow with some of the graham cracker crumbs, and let the marshmallow set for at least 6 hours, or until completely set.
- Use a pizza cutter or large sharp knife to cut the marshmallow into large squares the size of your graham cracker squares. Roll the edges and the bottom in graham cracker crumbs so they don’t stick together. Devour any marshmallow scraps. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
To assemble the s’mores:
- Cover two baking sheets with foil, and place half of the graham crackers on the sheets, 6 to a sheet. Top each graham cracker with a marshmallow square. Break the white chocolate bars in half and set the halves aside for a moment.
- If you have a kitchen torch, fire that bad boy up and torch the tops of the marshmallows until they puff up, expand, and take on a crackly, toasted appearance. Quickly top each marshmallow with half of a white chocolate bar—the heat from the marshmallows will start to melt the chocolate. Place a chocolate graham cracker on top of the white chocolate and press down gently. Serve immediately.
- If you don’t have a kitchen torch, heat up your oven’s broiler element and put the trays with the marshmallow-topped crackers under the broiler. Watch them carefully as they toast, as it can only take a few seconds to go from “toasted” to “hopelessly burnt.” Once the marshmallows are toasted, finish assembling the s’mores as outlined above.
- Note that if you only want to make a few at a time, you can keep the marshmallows and graham crackers in separate airtight containers at room temperature and toast the s’mores individually as desired. The crackers will get soft after a few days, but they can be returned to a low oven to crisp up if necessary.