I’ve written about s’mores before (Girls gone camping, Getting scientific about s’mores, One year ago: reminiscing on the Vantastic Voyage), and thought I’d said just about everything that could be said about them. But, when it comes to the things you love, maybe that isn’t true—there’s always more to be said. So here goes.
Jan and I spent last weekend camping with a group of friends at Huntington Lake, which meant in addition to the “regular” food we were bringing, we also brought plenty of s’mores supplies to go around. Jan did our shopping and bought the ingredients for the classic American s’mores: Honey-Maid graham crackers, Jet-Puffed marshmallows, and Hershey’s milk chocolate and Special Dark bars.
When we got to camp, we learned that we weren’t the only ones thinking about making s’mores. But these s’mores ingredients brought by other campers were the Trader Joe’s variety, and suddenly, a whole new s’mores world opened up for me. There were Belgian Butter Waffle Cookies, Old Fashioned Cinnamon Grahams, Swiss Milk Chocolate, and the Pound Plus of Belgian Dark Chocolate. And lots and lots of marshmallows.
With the addition of what I was calling the gourmet s’mores ingredients, our campfire wouldn’t be just about enjoying the classic American s’more, but instead, pursuing an always welcome activity for us—the taste test.
I used the lid of a plastic camping-box-container as my tray to lay out all the ingredients and offered a quick tutorial on my s’mores technique (toast 1 graham cracker square with chunks of Special Dark atop it while slowly roasting 2 marshmallows on a skewer, then using the other untoasted graham cracker to sandwich the hot marshmallows on top of the toasted graham cracker and melted chocolate, all while carefully removing the skewer).
Everyone had their own ideas about what combinations they wanted to try: Belgian Butter Waffle Cookies with Belgian chocolate, open faced s’mores, untoasted grahams, etc. and they got to work constructing their own treats. As usual, there was the great debate about slowing browning the marshmallows verses catching them on fire and quickly burning it out. Jan argued that the more fiery technique allowed for the marshmallow’s sugars to caramelize, while I argued that my slow-turning technique near the hot ashes got the entire marshmallow heated completely through. But this wasn’t a new debate and everyone concentrated on making their own s’mores. I had the fun of watching each person work on their own creation and combinations of ingredients.
Since I already knew what the “classic” tasted like, I tested out the new cookies/crackers. As people made their s’mores, the consensus was that the Belgian chocolate was delicious, but too thick to even begin melting, so I stuck with Special Dark since the thickness of that bar seemed to allow the chocolate to melt at the same rate of marshmallow-cooking. My s’more with the Belgian Butter Waffle Cookie was delicious, and tasted even richer than the standard s’more on graham cracker, with its thin and buttery texture. I was intrigued; there was definitely something to switching out the different pieces of the s’more. When I felt that I had recovered from my initial sugar high, I made my second s’more, this time with the Old Fashioned Cinnamon Graham. The cookies were thick without being too crunchy, and I loved the little crystals of sugar that were powdered onto the cookies. The cinnamon, however, detracted from the rest of the chocolate and marshmallow flavors when everything came together.
It seemed as if everyone had a favorite, and we all would have liked to try the infinite combinations of ingredients and cooking techniques, but we soon reached our sugar limit. What had, minutes before, been a lively group around the campfire, had become quiet and reflective. I think we were all experiencing a sugar coma. We discussed the “best” s’more, but of course came to no consensus. For my own view, I think I’ll stick with the classic, but trying these combinations of other cookies certainly got me thinking about other ideas. For example, I might want to just eat the Cinnamon Grahams on their own, and on another day, dip the Belgian Butter Waffle Cookies in chocolate or spread Nutella on top of them. For some of the other campers though, after trying the gourmet version, they might have a new favorite. As the s’more discussion ended, we seemed to have recovered from the sugar and everyone was back to their usual selves, having had enough cookies/crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate of any form until the next camping trip.