Well we’re reaching that point in summer where one part of me is ready to slip under a blanket and watch a movie now that the days have gotten a bit cooler in the mornings and evenings. And then the other part of me is dying to get more and more sunlight before the leaves change. What is a girl to do?! And honestly the weather has been ping ponging like crazy in the Northeast. One day it’s unbelievably sunny and hot, and the next it’s cloudy with a nip in the air.
On the theme of the above thoughts and the feeling from the last couple of weeks’ posts—soaking up the best of summer—I have s’mores for you made right in your own kitchen so you can satisfy both the cool weather home-body vibes and the summer fun. Toasty and reminiscent of those summer evening bonfires. And we’ve upped the ante because the graham crackers are chocolate! These guys are kind of like graham crackers, kind of like an Oreo, and kind of like a gingerbread cookie. Yes.
So I mentioned “toasty” above. Clearly I’m referring to the marshmallows getting that golden brown color on the outside. So how does that work? Let’s go back to the s’mores cake, shall we? (Also a top-notch way to get that s’more fix in) It’s all about the caramelization—sugar, how I adore you!
So what is that toasted marshmallow flavor? We can thank caramelization for that one! Caramelization is a reaction that breaks down sugar into smaller pieces and creates dark pigments as a byproduct. It occurs at high temperatures—aka hello campfire. Those dark pigments appear as beige then brown and finally black as you break down everything with heat.
The key is to get a toasty brown because the breakdown of sugar by caramelization creates a whole bunch of aromatic compounds as the breakdown products react with one another. Those aromatic compounds are responsible for the nutty sweet flavors you have come to love in things like toasted marshmallows and crème brulee. But caramelization also causes bitter compounds to form as the process continues. The bitter can be a really great thing for rounding out the perfect bite. But if you go too far, that bitterness will be all-encompassing…and your marshmallow will be black. And good luck coming back from that.
In this, we’re achieving the toasty marshmallows in our oven under the broiler. Of course, you can always have a good old-fashioned bonfire if you have the means! My s’mores here reverse the chocolate and graham with the afore-mentioned chocolate grahams and a blonde white chocolate (more caramelization in action!).
Feel free to use what you like, though I think peanut butter would be an excellent addition if you’d like to forego the chocolate bar component altogether. Also, I may be impartial, but I think a great glass of dry red would go great with this and help your summer to fall transition out immensely. What are your favorite last-minute summer traditions you’re getting in at this time of year? I, for one, am taking advantage of the long weekend by being super-touristy in Boston with my mom and brother. Then the fall vibes will be sure to settle in on my part. Cheers!
Chocolate Graham Crackers
Adapted from Food Network
Makes 1 dozen
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole-wheat graham flour
½ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
- Whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat until combined and slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture from step one to the bowl and beat until combined.
- Dump the dough from the bowl onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap the dough in it, shaping it into a disc. Chill until firm, at least one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.
- On a floured piece of parchment, roll the disc into a rectangle, about ⅛-inch thick, using a floured rolling pin. Trim the edges to get even sides.
- Cut the dough into 12 rectangles, but don’t separate the pieces. Score each rectangle in half crosswise, only cutting partway through the dough. Use a fork to make 3 indentations in each square. Transfer the entire dough square on the parchment to a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
- Bake until the edges have darkened slightly and the dough is set, about 18 minutes. While the cookies are still warm, use a knife to cut them apart. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet before eating. Enjoy!
*Note: I wanted to get more complex toasty notes in these, so I used blonde chocolate. Because my grocer didn’t have it, I made my own by caramelizing white chocolate. I used a Lindt white chocolate bar (4.4 oz) and mixed in a tablespoon of pistachio butter (for some extra flavor) into the final caramelized chocolate. I set it in the fridge and then cut it into 12 equal pieces.
Chocolate graham crackers
Blonde Chocolate (see note)
- Split the grahams in half and place half of them on a baking sheet. Split the marshmallows in half and place on the grahams.
- Place a baking rack in the top part of your oven and turn the broiler on to high.
- Slide the baking sheet onto the rack and watch closely with the door slightly ajar. You’re looking for the marshmallows to toast on top.
- Once they’re to your liking, remove from the oven and carefully transfer to a plate. Top each marshmallow with half a square of chocolate (one square per s’more), a pinch of flaky sea salt, and then top with the other graham halves.