The paradox of bonfires is their inconsequential consequences. They are the ultimate setting for reminiscing and storytelling where the smallest recollection of a detail can spark a two hour in-depth discussion. I always welcome the endless conversations as hours slip by unnoticed. A good bonfire wraps you tightly in the moment. Nothing else matters but the company you keep, the snapping and crackling of burning wood, the warmth of the flames, and the scent of smoke as it seeps into your clothes and tangles itself in your hair... A bonfire is essentially a gathering, and at the center of every great gathering is great food. For the first bonfire of the season, I wanted to do something extra special. S'mores are the ultimate fire food so I set out to home make mine from the cracker up.
The graham cracker base was something I had never encountered before with dark brown sugar and honey in the dough. I wasn't sure what to expect but the whole process was exceedingly easy. When the golden brown crackers emerged from the oven, they looked even better than the real thing. Typically with store bought crackers, the first bite crumbles into a mess and forces you to guzzle down the treat before molten marshmallow drips down your wrist. However, the best thing about homemade graham crackers is their texture which rides the line between hard and chewy and allows you to leisurely enjoy your s'more in multiple bites.
Making my own marshmallows was something very foreign to me. It took me a good amount of time at the supermarket to even find the gelatin. When I looked at the directions and saw 12 minutes of mixing I worried that they wouldn't reach the right texture without the aid of the stand mixer that I did not own. However, they totally worked and made even more than I anticipated! First I cut them into 2x2" rectangles to fit the 3x3" graham crackers perfectly. With the remaining marshmallow, I used a tiny heart cookie cutter to cut out small marshmallows for hot chocolate.
The final product was overwhelmingly the best s'more I've ever had. The graham crackers were the perfect foundation, the marshmallows roasted excellently, and the good ol' fashion Hershey's bars initiated nostalgia for all. Try them for yourself and take your bonfire to the next level of s'mores goodness.
Homemade Graham Crackers
From: Cup of Sugar Pinch of Salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1. In a bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
2. In another bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and honey. Mix on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
3. In two additions, add the dry ingredients, letting the first fully incorporate before you add the second.
4. Turn the dough out and flatten it into a rectangular shape, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Unwrap the chilled dough and cut it in half. Leave half in the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll the other half out into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.
7. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 3x3" squares; use a spatula to transfer the rectangles to the prepared baking sheets as you go. I found it helpful to make a 3x3" template out of card stock.
8. Repeat with the other half of dough.
9. Reroll the scraps of dough and cut out more cookies.
10. Using a paring knife, gently score each square to create a line down the middle, taking care not to cut all the way through the dough. Using a fork, pierce each rectangle with two rows of six to eight marks.
11. Bake the graham crackers, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until they are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows
From: My Baking Addiction
3/4 cup water, divided
3 (.25 ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1. Line a 9x9 inch baking dish with plastic wrap and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Place 1/2 cup of water in the bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top of water to soak.
3. While gelatin is soaking, combine 1/4 cup of water, corn syrup, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil the mixture hard for 1 minute.
4. Carefully pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture and beat on high for 12 minutes with an electric mixer, until the mixture is fluffy and forms stiff peaks.
5. Add in vanilla extract and beat until just combined. For pure white marshmallows, use clear vanilla extract.
6. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared baking dish, using a greased spatula to smooth the top. Cover the candy with another piece of plastic wrap coated with non-stick spray. Press it down lightly to seal the covering to the top of the marshmallows. Allow the marshmallows to rest for 4 hours or overnight.
7. Mix together cornstarch and confectioner's sugar in a shallow dish. Using an oiled kitchen knife, cut the marshmallow candy into strips, then into 1 inch squares. Dredge the marshmallows lightly in the cornstarch mixture and store in an airtight container.
In case you haven't seen it... Zac Wolf and I made an awesome s'mores stop motion video!
Also relevant: S'mores French Toast
photos by: Zac Wolf Photography