A hand-lettered sign on a card table at a gas station on the New York State Thruway said it all: “Want s'more?” On the table were just three items: graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars. Because when it comes to a summer dessert, what (s')more do you need?
Every s'more recipe should begin with the words, “First, build a campfire.” But I know many people who use gas ranges, microwaves or ovens. Whatever your method, you know the “recipe” by heart: two graham cracker halves, with a piece of milk chocolate and a roasty-toasty marshmallow in between. It's a sweet, gooey treat that virtually demands a quick swim afterward to clean up.
Most sources credit the first printed recipe for s'mores (then known as “some-mores”) to the 1927 edition of “Tramping and Trailing With the Girl Scouts.” But etymologist Barry Popik -- known for heroic work tracking down the origins of the phrases “Big Apple” and “hot dog,” among others -- found reference in a 1925 edition of The Hour, a Norwalk, Conn., newspaper, in an article that detailed the making and serving of two new dishes -- “kabobs” and “some-mores” -- to Girl Scout leaders. “These two 'dishes' were enjoyed thoroughly by the patrol leaders,” the article concluded.
Popik uncovered further (but later) references to the classic dessert under the name “Heavenly Crisps,” nomenclature that seems to have been favored by the Camp Fire Girls, as well as “Perfection Crisps.” Food historians Michael and Jane Stern wrote in “Square Meals” (Borzoi Books, 1984) that s'mores were also known as “Princess Pats” and “Slapsticks.”
One of the best things about a classic is that it invites variations. I think the regulation s'more is tops, but dessert lovers have gone wild. Last summer, The Huffington Post posted a slide show of 22 recipes riffing on the s'more, including s'more cakes, s'more pops and s'more pudding.
I've fallen for the S'more Sandwich from “Ice Cream Sandwiches” by British cupcake maven Donna Egan. The best thing about this version is that you can make it well in advance, something you can't do with the campfire version. But you still might need a swim.
Yield: 6 sandwiches
For the cookie:
1/2 cup butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (a chocolate with at least 90 percent cacao, such as Ghirardelli, is recommended)
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
7 or 8 graham cracker halves
1 pint homemade chocolate ice cream, or premium store-bought chocolate ice cream
3/4 cup mini-marshmallows
Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 15-by-10-by-1-inch jelly roll pan.
Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Microwave on 70 percent power for 1 minute. Remove from microwave, stir briskly, and repeat until completely melted. Alternatively, you can melt the two ingredients in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water, stirring until melted.
Add the sugar to the chocolate mixture and stir. Allow to cool slightly, then add the eggs and vanilla, stirring with a fork until completely incorporated. Add the flour and salt and stir until just incorporated.
Spread the batter evenly across the greased pan, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to ensure it is evenly distributed. Break up the graham crackers into 8 to 10 pieces each and divide them evenly over the batter. Gently push them into the batter slightly so they will remain attached once the batter is baked.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The center should be firm but still slightly moist, and the edges may start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake.
While still warm from the oven, cut the brownies into 12 uniform rectangles. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
Allow the ice cream to soften slightly, then spoon one-sixth of it onto bottom of 1 brownie. Using an offset spatula or table knife, spread it evenly to within about 1/4 inch of the edges. Place 10 to 12 mini marshmallows on top. Add the second brownie, bottom side down, and press gently until the ice cream spreads to the edges. Repeat with the remaining brownies, ice cream and marshmallows.
Serve immediately or freeze in an airtight plastic container. If you need to stack the sandwiches, place sheets of waxed paper between the layers.
Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.
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