As manufactured, far-fetched and stretched-to-the-limits-of-credibility food holidays go, National S'mores Day is as silly as they come.
True, it's not as boring as National Mushroom Day (April 16). Nor is it as irrelevant as National Drink Beer Day (Sept. 28), since most people we know celebrate that more than once a year.
As frivolous as it sounds, only a cold, cynical heart could refuse the gooey, chocolaty, crunchy deliciousness that a marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker s'more delivers.
So we're giving in to the foolishness today, which just so happens to be the High Holy Day of campfire treats.
But since it's hotter outside than National Chili Day (Feb. 26), it makes more sense to cook them indoors this time of year.
On the 74th anniversary of the recipe's debut in a Girl Scout cookbook, we asked four chefs to bring them indoors and give us their take on the delicacy.
Shane Shaibly, Melting Pot
Anyone who has enjoyed the s'mores fondue dessert for years at a Melting Pot restaurant knows how sinful it can be to dredge bananas, Rice Krispy treats, strawberries and cherries in the simmering hot pot of chocolate and marshmallow with a bit of flaming rum.
The recipe for the S'mores Fondue is such a classic, it's included in the restaurant's cookbook, says Shane Shaibly, corporate chef of Front Burner Brands, the Tampa-based parent company of the Melting Pot chain.
But that doesn't mean the flavors can't be experimented with. Earlier this year, the Melting Pot devised a S'mores Martini that simulates the richness of the dessert, only in cocktail form.
"Female customers love this drink," he says.
Campfire S'mores Martini
2 ounces SKYY Vodka
1 ounce Monin Toasted Marshmallow (4 pumps)
1 ounce Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
1 ounce Half & Half
In a chilled 7.5-ounce martini glass, drizzle chocolate syrup in a spiral from bottom of glass up to the rim.
Dip rim of glass into Monin Toasted Marshmallow and then into graham cracker crumbs, set aside.
Fill mixing tin with ice and add vodka, Monin Toasted Marshmallow, chocolate syrup and Half & Half. Cap and shake.
Strain into the martini glass and garnish the top with sprinkles of chocolate shavings.
Top with 3 Oreo-coated marshmallow halves speared with a bamboo skewer.
Chocolate S'mores Fondue
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Milk chocolate topped with marshmallow cream, flambéed and garnished with graham cracker pieces.
8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons marshmallow creme
2 tablespoons 151 rum
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, stirring constantly; or place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring every 30-45 seconds. Be careful not to let the chocolate burn. Pour into a warm fondue pot. Spoon the marshmallow creme into the center of the chocolate. Do not stir. Add the rum to the pot and ignite carefully, using a long wooden match or lighter. Allow the flame to burn out and stir gently to combine. Sprinkle with the graham cracker crumbs. Keep fondue warm over low heat.
Rich Norris, Apron's
Rich Norris, chef at Apron's Cooking School inside the Publix in Citrus Park, played around at home with the idea of substituting pizza dough for graham crackers. Oh, and making his own marshmallows for a Smore's Pizza.
He didn't abandon the traditional flavors, though. By including honey, brown sugar and cinnamon in the pizza dough, he simulates the same comforting goodness of biting into a graham cracker, only with warm crispiness.
He also brought a subtle, smoky bite to the mixture by adding chipotle flavors to the homemade chocolate marshmallows he made. For pure decadence, he experimented with spreading peanut butter on the crust before baking.
"The peanut butter is what sets it apart," Norris says.
S'mores Pizza with Homemade Marshmallows
Makes 4 pizzas
1 packet dry active yeast
1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees Fahrenheit
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3–4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup peanut butter, divided
½ cup graham cracker crumbs, divided
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
½ cup white chocolate chips, divided
Homemade Marshmallows, cut into bite-size pieces (recipe below)
Dissolve yeast, water, sugar, honey, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl of a stand mixer. Allow it to sit until mixture begins to foam. Add 2 cups flour and salt, begin mixing at a low speed, until all ingredients are combined. Add more flour, a little at a time, until dough forms into a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but is still soft and slightly sticky.
Remove the dough ball from the mixing bowl and knead the dough by hand until an indentation made with your finger springs back, about 5–10 minutes.
Place in a large mixing bowl that has been coated with canola oil. Turn dough over so all sides have been coated with oil and cover with a towel. Place in a warm place, (90°F–100°F), and allow to sit until dough doubles in volume. This should take between 30 minutes to an hour.
Preheat oven, with a pizza stone, to 500°F.
After dough has doubled in size remove it from the bowl, cut into 4 equal size pieces and roll them into a tight ball. Dust the counter with flour. Place the dough on the counter leaving several inches of space between each dough, dust the dough with flour and cover with a towel for 20–30 minutes.
Roll out dough to ¼-inch thick. Brush or spray a light coating of oil on the pizza shells and bake pizzas for 6–8 minutes or until crust is golden.
Remove from oven, spread 2 tablespoons peanut butter on each pizza shell, top with ⅛ cup graham cracker crumbs, ⅛ cup chocolate chips and enough of the marshmallows to cover. Place back in the oven for 1 minute, then place under the broiler or use a brûlé torch to toast marshmallows. Let cool 5 minutes and serve.
Chocolate Chipotle & Vanilla Marshmallows
Makes 24 medium marshmallows
1 cup confectioners' sugar for coating pan and dredging
3 envelopes unflavored Knox gelatin
½ cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
¼ cup water
4 tablespoons boiling water
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
½ teaspoon chipotle powder
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Spray two 9x9-inch pans with canola spray, dust with confectioners' sugar and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over ½ cup cold water. Soak for 10 minutes.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute or until it reaches 240°F.
Mix 4 tablespoons boiling water with 4 tablespoons cocoa, chipotle powder and smoked paprika. Reserve.
Pour boiling syrup into gelatin, add the salt and mix at high speed with a whisk attachment. Beat for 12 minutes. Add vanilla, beat for 30 seconds. Remove half of the marshmallow mixture to a prepared 9x9-inch pan. Add cocoa mixture to remaining marshmallow mix and incorporate.
Spread into a 9x9-inch prepared pan. (Note: Lightly spray spatula with canola spray). After pouring marshmallow mixture into the pan, combine remaining cocoa, ½ cup confectioners' sugar and dust the top of the mixture. Take a piece of plastic wrap and press mixture into the pan.
Cover and let mixture sit for a few hours. Remove from pan, dredge the marshmallow slab with confectioners' sugar, and cut into 12 equal pieces with a chef's knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar. For the chocolate marshmallows combine 1 teaspoon cocoa powder with remaining confectioner's sugar. Marshmallows will keep in an air tight container for one week.
Stephanie Barr, 3 Ballers
When we asked Stephanie Barr of 3 Ballers Traveling Bistro food truck on Tampa Road in Oldsmar to create her version of a s'more, she tweeted, "I'm totally down with it!!...ooohh, how many different ways can I make it?"
All we needed was one, so she devised S'More Bites made in miniature muffin pans.
She pressed graham cracker crumbs to form the base, then built up from there with marshmallow fluff, chocolate buttercream (the icing recipe is a secret), a square of Hershey's chocolate and a miniature marshmallow.
"I like the dark chocolate," Barr says. "It offsets the sweetness of the butter cream."
Simplicity was the goal.
"I like keeping it easy," she says. "You want it to taste like a s'more."
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter (1 stick-melted)
1 jar marshmallow Fluff
Chocolate buttercream icing
Hershey's Dark Chocolate Bar
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees and line a mini muffin tin with paper cups.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and mix well.
Place two tablespoons of the cracker crumbs into each paper cup. Press down into the cups firmly to form a crust making sure to press up the sides. More crumbs can be added if needed/wanted.
After crumb cups have been formed, place a dollop of Marshmallow Fluff into each cup. Not too much, and no need to spread.
Place the muffin tin into your preheated oven. Leave in for 10-13 minutes. The marshmallow fluff will puff up and start to "toast" slightly. Take them out of the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. When the fluff cools, it will look ugly. The dessert is not ruined! This is just what it does, but no one sees this part, so it's okay.
While crusts are cooling, make your chocolate buttercream. It is important to MAKE a buttercream, don't use canned. This is important for the taste of your S'more Bites.
Gently take the crusts out of the tin, remove carefully from the paper liner. Make sure they are cooled completely, if they aren't cooled, your buttercream will melt.
Fill a pastry bag with your frosting. Pipe it into the graham cracker shell.
Decorate with a piece of dark chocolate (I break mine in half) and a mini marshmallow on top.
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Michael Baugh, Let Them Eat Cake
Michael Baugh, chocolatier and owner of the South Tampa bakery Let Them Eat Cake, started his s'mores exploration at Home Depot.
Using large $1 end-cap segments for PVC pipe, Baugh poured melted chocolate into the makeshift molds, swirled it around the sides and refrigerated it to make chocolate cups.
Into the choclate cups, now removed from the caps, Baugh crumbled a handful of Scooby Doo-brand graham crackers to create a base for a crème-brulee filling (you can substitute vanilla pudding at home) mixed with Marshmallow Fluff .
After crowning the cup with a dollop of marshmallow, Baugh used a butane torch to scorch it a bit, giving it a campfire flavor. The final result of his Scooby S'more: oozing, gooey creaminess into which you can dip leftover dog-bone-shaped graham crackers.
After playing with the fire and marshmallows and chocolate, Baugh took a taste and said, "Isn't that fun?"