By Catharine KaufmanAug. 10 has been designated “National S’mores Day” in honor of this quintessential campfire treat. Creative culinary minds have tweaked the iconic recipe to make it even more fun and scrumptious (if that’s possible), while health-conscious chefs have re-jiggered the ingredients to make it more guilt-free.
No one has really laid a solid claim to the invention of s’mores, although the first recipe for this novel sandwich appeared in a 1927 handbook, “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.” The basic ingredients and Simple Simon concept provided a portable and non-perishable treat for camping trips and cookouts.
The name’s origin, probably apocryphal, is the contraction of “some more,” supposedly the garbled verbiage from a child scarfing down a mouthful of the treat and asking for a second helping.
S’mores consist of three solid components: marshmallows, honey Graham crackers and chocolate bars.
The former, the oldest and gooiest has been around for 4,000 years when ancient Egyptians blended honey with root extracts of the marshmallow plant to create a sore throat elixir. Millenniums later, French gastronomes refined the recipe by blending egg white meringues and rose water into the gummy root juices to create a frothy paste. Today’s marshmallow is completely void of the mallow plant juices, swapping them out for gelatin and corn syrup giving the confection its familiar pillowy shape.
The second component is the Graham cracker named after the pioneer health food guru, Sylvester Graham who created the crisp, high-fiber flat bread from non-sifted whole-wheat flour in the 1820s.
The final ingredient to complete is the food of the gods: chocolate. Cocoa entrepreneur Milton Hershey honed the blissful milk chocolate bar at his Pennsylvania factory. He mass-produced and distributed the iconic Hershey bar for all wallets to enjoy.
For s’mores galore here’s a gustatory line-up for those who want a break from tradition:
• Amore, s’more: Make an Italian version with a hazelnut chocolate spread like Nutella.
• Aloha with a Hawaiian flare of toasted coconut and candied pineapple chunks.
• Go Mediterranean with a sprinkling of sea salt and cayenne pepper.
• South-of-the-border s’mores use Mexican chocolate and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.
• The Blondie is made with organic white chocolate.
• The Elvis uses the King’s favorite sandwich fixin’s — peanut butter and bananas.
• The Grasshopper features mint chocolate.
• The Turtle adds caramel and toasted pecans to the middle.
• Tutti Frutti adds your favorite fruit to the mix, like blueberries, strawberries, peach slices or dried apricots.
• Sustainable S’mores are a health-conscious, organic version with made-from-scratch Graham crackers and marshmallows along with high-octane, full-of-antioxidants bittersweet chocolate.
• Vegans can buy kosher marshmallows sans animal by-products (gelatin) or seek out a soy-based mallow spread.
• Adult-only S’mores employ Martini of Smirnoff Marshmallow or cinnamon-infused vanilla vodka, chocolate liqueur and bitters.
Around town, you can sample these concoctions minus the bonfire: The Gaslamp’s Saltbox offers Chef Simon Dolinky’s “Campfire S’more,” which marries house-made marshmallows and Graham crackers with a smoked chocolate drizzle; Sprinkles La Jolla does a s’mores cupcake combining Graham cracker cake filled with bittersweet chocolate ganache and marshmallow frosting; pig out with Gaijin Noodle + Sake House’s kitschy Bacon S’mores, mixing crisky nueske bacon drizzled with Hershey’s chocolate, toasted marshmallows and house-made Grahams. The US Grant’s Chef Chris Kurth monkeys around with vanilla marshmallows, Graham cracker ice cream and brown sugar bananas, drizzled with warm fudge.
— For homemade marshmallow or graham-cracker recipes, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org