National S’mores Day: S’mores Pots de Creme

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Most recipes that have endured for decades started with fresh/from-scratch ingredients and then “devolved” to include canned & packaged items. Not so s’mores. Always made from ingredients off the shelf and out of the box, the first published recipe for the gooey snack appeared in the 1927 “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts” calling for eight bars “plain chocolate—any of the good plain brands, broken in two.”

For me? The appeal of s’mores in traditional form was that they gave me something to do with the glowing embers. (I’m the family-camping pyro.) But then I met pastry chef Eric Wayne Dale at Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen and s’mores took on  added dimension. Each of the building blocks for this incredibly tasty recipe—marshmallow fluff, chocolate pots de creme, and cinnamon-sugared graham crackers—are made from scratch, stand-alone delicious and so much better than packaged goods. (In fact? The food geek in me would love to experiment with making marshmallows with the sap of the marshmallow plant, Althaea officinalis, the way French candymakers first mallowed.)

And when the weather cools, I am most definitely pulling the graham cracker recipe back out to do a chocolate-covered and salted confection.

NOTE: This recipe for marshmallow fluff yields a soft, airy result. If you want a stickier, stiffer fluff, try Shauna Sever’s recipe for marshmallow creme. Also, while I serve my s’mores pots with just a little sprinkling of grahams over the top of the browned marshmallow fluff, Chef Eric Wayne Dale likes to serve the pots de creme layered first with crushed graham cracker crumbs, and the dollop of fluff on top, browned under the broiler for a few seconds until the fluff is golden brown. Poke a graham cracker through the fluff and into the creme to serve–or just serve the crackers along side, dipping and scooping the creme as you go.

 

Makes 8 servings

Cinnamon Graham Crackers Ingredients

  • 3 cups graham flour
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb butter, slightly softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg plus 1 Tbsp water for egg wash
  • 1 cup pure-cane sugar plus 1 tsp cinnamon for sugar topping

Chocolate Pots de Creme Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 6 ounces ScharffenBerger dark chocolate chopped
  • 6 egg yolks (save the whites for the marshmallow fluff recipe, below)

Marshmallow Fluff Ingredients

  • 1/4 ounce gelatin (1 envelope)
  • 1/2 cup cold water, divided into two 1/4 cup portions
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated pure cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white, distilled vinegar
  • 6 egg whites, reserved from the pots de creme recipe
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Make graham crackers: Combine both flours, soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy–about five minutes. Add the flour mixture in three stages and paddle to combine. Divide the dough in two. Roll each portion between two sheets of parchment paper to about 1/8 ” thick. Cut into 1 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch rectangles; prick with fork to add rows of dots if you like, and freeze. Separate shapes onto several parchment-lined half-sheet pans. Brush lightly with egg-wash; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until brown–about 12 minutes. Cool on racks. Set aside eight of the crackers for service: grind several more to make crumbs to use for garnish. Save the rest to eat later.
  2. Make chocolate pots de creme: In a 2 quart sauce pan, combine cream, milk, sugar and vanilla bean. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Stir to combine. Strain through fine-mesh strainer to remove bean pods. Place strained chocolate mixture in a pitcher and cool in refrigerator. When cool, whisk in the egg yolks. Chill overnight OR, pour into 8, five-or-six-ounce sized ramekins and proceed immediately. Place the ramekins in a shallow roasting pan. Place the pan on the center rack of your oven, set at 350 degrees.  Pour boiling water into the pan, being careful not to splash inside the custard cups–pour until the water comes 1/2 way up the outside of the custard cups. Cover the roasting pan with foil that you have already pierced with a fork about a dozen times to create steam vents. Slide the rack back into the oven carefully and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. (NOTE: If you are not chilling the custard overnight before cooking, it will take less time for the custard to cook–about 50 minutes to 1 hour) The custard is done when it jiggles like gelatin, not waves like the ocean. Cool custard cups on a wire rack; then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  3. Make marshmallow fluff: In a small, microwaveable bowl, sprinkle gelatin of the first 1/4 cup of cold water; set aside to soften. Combine all remaining ingredients in a nonreactive heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Using a wire whip, whisk ingredients constantly until they reach 120 degrees and the sugar has dissolved. Place the bowl with the gelatin in the microwave and heat on high-power for 10 seconds until the gelatin melts. Add gelatin to the egg mixture. Pour all into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Whip on high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume and is shiny and cool to the touch. Place the fluff in a disposable pastry bag fitted with a small, star tip. Wrap in a damp towel and place towel-wrapped pastry bag in ziploc bag in fridge until ready to use.
  4. Assemble desserts: After pots de creme have cooled for eight hours, they are ready to serve. For each, sprinkle with crushed graham cracker crumbs. Top this with a dollop of marshmallow whip. Heat oven to broil setting. Place mallow-topped cups under broiler for 10 seconds or more until mallow has begun to brown. If you want a taller mallow topping, repeat this step twice more, adding another dollop of mallow on top of the first slightly-browned one, and browning again under broiler. To finish, poke a graham cracker through the marshmallow and serve.

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