I want the moment to start, when I can fill your heart with S’more love and S’more joy, than age or time could ever destroy . . .
For our twentieth wedding anniversary this summer, I gave my husband an outdoor fireplace. That’s the sort of thing old people like– great gifts are the ones you can sit around with a good whiskey in hand. At a party for our college freshman last weekend we loaded it up with Pinon wood and brought out toasting forks, huge marshmallows, Hershey bars and graham crackers: all the essentials for that uber-dessert of summer: the S’more.
Did you know that graham crackers were invented to curb masturbation? Really, it’s true, Google it. No, of course it doesn’t work. Anyway, I digress. The Girl Scouts are credited with the recorded invention of this campfire treat, as it first appeared in Tramping and Trailing with Girl Scouts, in 1927. Always sticklers for the correct, Girl Scout literature refers to them as “Some Mores” up through 1973.
The S’more has been much bastardized. There are Pepperidge Farm S’more “Goldfish,” and a Hershey candy bar called “S’more”, Kellogg’s Smorz breakfast cereal and S’more flavored Pop-Tarts. None of those things is worth eating. A S’more made in a microwave is a sad little thing indeed, lacking the magical bubbly crust on the marshmallow.
People can be very particular about how they want their marshmallow done. Some people want it gently roasted until it’s evenly golden all around, and so gooey it’s about to fall off the stick. Sometimes it does fall off the stick and you have to start all over. Some people like theirs barely warmed and still a little resistant (whereupon the graham cracker “lid” inevitably breaks when you push it down) and some prefer theirs blackened from having caught fire over and over again.
Most of the teenaged guests at our son’s party made S’mores. They were enthusiastic to do so; nostalgic about their own histories with the confection and defensive of their own personal techniques, which of course involved some blazing marshmallows. Much later in the evening, some of us middle-aged folk sauntered out to the fireplace, collapsing in the Adirondack chairs. I was the only one to make a S’more though. It surprised me how evocative it was putting a S’more together outside, under the stars. And how sticky.
I was reminded of that summer at Spider Lake, where the clan gathered for a week. Every night there was a bonfire on the beach, and we made S’mores. My boy was a baby- nine months old. His half-sisters were eight and ten, and they got to be quite the experts at S’more making. I remember the kids, a clutch of cousins, running with flaming torches of marshmallows, over the pebbled shore. The toasting forks were cut from tree branches– some of them held five or six marshmallows at a time. There was much wanton excess. Looking back that time seems magical.
When Julian was nine, he and I made an epic pilgrimage across the country to pick up a puppy. If you can make a journey from Montana to New Jersey include the Outer Banks, you are the Queen of Road Trips. One night we stopped at Amos Mosquito, a funky but nice restaurant in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. On the menu were S’mores. They brought you the stuff to make them and a little flame pot for roasting. We were both enchanted, it was one of the highlights of the trip.
A bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers and a stack of Hershey bars will make a lot of S’mores. So, as it happens, I’ve been eating a S’more every day since last Saturday. Yes, every day. Yes, every single day, dammit. I confess that I have not been lighting the fireplace every night, and have instead been content to roast the marshmallows over the open flame of the Wolf Range. Yes, it’s not quite the purist way, but it’s close enough. I had already had a S’more this afternoon, but I had to make another to photograph it for this column. I’m proud to say I did not eat the second S’more, but gave it to my son instead; the very definition of willpower.
Actually, for all of the decadent yum that you get from a S’more, it’s not the worst thing you could eat. An average S’more (normal size marshmallow, half a Hershey bar, two squares of graham cracker) has 195 calories and 8g of fat, 2.5 g of protein and 31g of carbohydrates. It’s just that we’ve been making them with these ultra-luxurious Jumbo Marshmallows, which makes it 260 calories, 8g of fat, 2.5g of protein and 46g of carbohydrates. Oh well.
It seems like the ingredients in S’mores ought to lend themselves to reconfiguration to make a dessert that would be equally splendid but more, well, grown up, for lack of a better term. There are quite a few recipes for S’mores Tarts online, including an interesting looking one on Epicurious, all that’s left of Gourmet magazine. But I wonder if the ganache is not a bit too creamy, lacking the cool snap / oozing melt of the Hershey bar. And I don’t know– I’m still not Martha Stewart enough to make my own marshmallow. Maybe if you made them in muffin tins, with a graham cracker base, and a tempered chocolate layer, allowed to settle? Then some kind of marshmallow fluff, lightly browned? Julia Child’s right, a woman’s got to have a blow torch.
Target today 75 Steps 3092
Breakfast: two eggs, yogurt with granola. No lunch, just grazed through the afternoon- an ounce of potato chips, a cup of grapes and yes, a S’more. Dinner: flour tortilla with an ounce of chicken and a half a cup of rice, a tablespoon of cheese.