At long last, summer has given way to the approaching cool of autumn. Kids are planning their Halloween costumes and mapping out their trick-or-treat routs to maximize their candy income, the apple orchards are in full swing harvesting barrels of the sweet fruit to be used in the cider presses or rolled in caramel and dipped liberally in chopped nuts, and on city streets across the country wandering droves of “Basic White Girls” wander aimlessly with pumpkin-spice lattes clutched tight in their fists.
This also begins what I like to think of as Bonfire Season. The evenings grow cool and the nights come early. Our closets trade out shorts and tank tops in exchange for warm sweaters and light flannel jackets. And in the coming days, many a beer will be passed and many a story will be shared between friends gathered around cozy backyard fires. As will the s’mores.
The sweet snack is a stable of bonfire season. Everywhere friends, Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops, and campers are beginning to stock up on graham crackers, chocolate bars, and bags of marshmallows to be toasted over the flames and mashed together into a warm, gooey sandwich for your sweet-tooth. Just as synonymous with fall campfires as ghost stories, the melty snack is a classic, and it’s not at all hard to understand why.
Nostalgia aside, let’s be honest: like anything else, the beloved American outdoorsman’s dessert has its fair share of problems.
Hold your “Boos”, please.
I know, saying anything negative about such a time-honored classic is synonymous with the worst blasphemies, but hear me out. Anyone who’s ever gorged on a s’more or two (or three or four) knows deep down that it could be better. Graham crackers easily crumble to dust in your hands. The marshmallow and chocolate, while melt-in-your-mouth delicious, turns into a melt-all-over-your-hands-and-drip-down-the-front-of-your-shirt mess in a matter of seconds. Worst of all, it’s a very tedious, one-at-a-time procedure toasting the s’mores over the bonfire.
Despite the overwhelming nostalgia surrounding the snack, it’s hard to deny that it could be better. And that is exactly what we aim to fix today. By the time we get finished, you’ll never eat s’mores the same way again.
What’s In a Name?
A popular saying ‘round these parts is that something is “as American as apple pie and baseball”. Somehow, despite the fact that the snack sports a red-white-and-blue heritage that couldn’t be more American if you stapled one onto the head of a bald eagle, s’mores have been forgotten and left out of this equation.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: DO NOT STAPLE, GLUE, NAIL, OR OTHERWISE FASTEN ANYTHING, EVEN S’MORES, ONTO ANY PART OF A BALD EAGLE.)
While many popular foods have long, convoluted, and disputed histories and origins, there is no shadow of doubt that the s’more is 100% made-in-the-USA. Which may explain why so many of our international neighbors are confused by this particular treat. Regardless of what anyone else may think, for better or worse, s’mores are an American staple here to stay.
The word “s’more” itself is actually a simple contraction of some more. As in, “you can’t have just one, cause you’re going to want s’more”. See? Clever, isn’t it? Ok, right, it’s not particularly clever when you think about it. But you can’t just call it something like melty-candy-bar-sugar-cracker sandwich. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And besides, anyone who’s ever eaten one can attest to the fact that it’s an addicting flavor, and you will, in fact, want s’more.
But just how long have the snacks actually been around?
One of the earliest published recipes (because apparently, stacking chocolate and marshmallows on a cracker is a complicated process that warrants step-by-step instructions) was way back in the 1920’s where it was, coincidentally, referred to as a Graham Cracker Sandwich (Again, it just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it). It wasn’t long before the treat became popularized around the campfires of Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops across the country. In fact, not long after an officially sanctioned Girl Scout guidebook published its own version of the recipe in 1927, under the name of “Some More”. Barely a decade later, a summer camp publication featured the recipe for this campfire snack, and it was here that the contracted word s’more made its debut public appearance. Thus history was made.
Try It Out!
The following recipe comes to you courtesy of my girlfriend Nicole, who stumbled across the idea while looking around the internet for something unique to bring along to a family gathering. This innovative twist on the classic s’more caught her eye, and later ended up stealing the show at the dessert table that night. Thankfully for all of you, my readers, she was kind enough to share the recipe with me when I was similarly in need of a creative food idea for a work function at my office. And now, I offer it here to share with the world.
I present to you – the s’mores cookie!
Now you, too, can enjoy the taste of a toasty s’more without all that time-consuming inconvenience that goes along with making them and suffering third-degree burns from melted marshmallows dripping down your hands. It’s all the flavor of the classic dessert in the simple convenience of a cookie. And the best part is how easy they are to make:
- Stand mixer and paddle attachment
- Mixing bowl and wooden spoon acceptable substitute if needed
- Large non-stick cookie sheets
- Wire cooling rack
- Spatula (Metal or plastic)
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- (double- or, better yet, triple-chocolate)
- Vegetable oil (1/3 cup)
- Eggs (2)
- Graham crackers (3-4)
- Mini marshmallows (1 small bag)
The process is simple. As with any baking venture, start out by preheating the over – this time, to 350 F. While the oven is ramping up, get your mixing bowl and add in the cake mix, the oil, and eggs. If you’re using a stand mixer like I do, simply set the bowl in place and flip the switch to mix on a low, slow setting. If you’re using a standard bowl and wood spoon or spatula (like some kind of godless heathen), then you’re going to spend a few minutes applying a little extra elbow grease into the equation.
Once that’s done, use a small ice cream scoop or a melon baller or something similar to divide the dough into roughly 24 equally-sized balls onto a couple of cookie sheets. I say 24, but that number will vary depending on how big or small or you want your cookies to turn out. Either way, now that you’ve got the cookie balls dished out and the oven is ready, set the trays in and back for 5-6 minutes.
But we’re not finished yet.
While the trays are in the oven, you’re going to want to take those graham crackers that you set aside earlier and finely crush them. Like this:
Of course, if you’re not in the market for having to buy a new kitchen table, you may want to wrap the crackers in wax paper and run a rolling pin over them until you’ve got a nice graham cracker dust. Either way is fine.
By now the oven timer should be going off, so put on an oven mitt and move the trays to a cooling rack of other heat-resistant surface, but DO NOT TURN THE OVEN OFF. Instead, pick up a handful of the graham cracker dust and heavily sprinkle over top of the cookies. Then, carefully, top each cookie with three mini marshmallows before putting the trays BACK into the oven for another 6-7 minutes, until the marshmallows are toasted a nice golden brown.
When finished, remove the set the trays aside on a cooling rack. Wait until you can pick one up without burning your fingers or mouth (no easy feat when fresh cookies are laying out in the open, I know) before enjoying and sharing with friends.