When you are a young English girl, growing up watching American movies and TV shows, s'mores seem like the ultimate stateside children's treat. They are cool and different and sweet and delicious and a far cry from a slice of Victoria Sponge in a National Trust Cafe. They are all about summer, sneakers, camp, the great outdoors, endless sunshine, lifelong friends .... a beautiful, idyllic dream. From the other side of the Atlantic, they feel as uniquely American as buying groceries in brown paper bags, road trips, spray cheese (!) and yellow school buses. And for my daughter, s'mores became her ultimate dessert.
Her first s'mores encounter was at Disney, where they are part of the intensive, wholesome, 'living the American dream' experience and were cooked around a sunset campfire with other enthusiasts.
Skip a few years and our next stop was the emotional summer of 2019 when we took #1 teenage son to the US to start university. Who could forget my dramatic breakdown in the cute Cape Cod chocolate shop, when I went to buy some adorable retractable s'mores campfire forks to take back home with us and #1 teenage son pointed out that I need only buy 4 because he had already left home. Oh there were tears. Lots of tears. And sobbing. And I bought 5. Of course I bought 5. Maybe one day he'll understand .....
And that evening we cooked s'mores on a campfire on a Cape Cod beach (where you have to get a fire permit and a real-life warden comes round on the dark beach and checks your permit - that's impressive). And they were delicious and we were all pleased that we had 5 retractable campfire forks.
And most recently, Hella chose s'mores for dessert on her June birthday. There is no denying that June is an unspeakably warm month in Dubai, but the birthday law says that you are Queen for the day, so we built a small fire in the pizza oven and it was ROASTING (even without the fire) and we had to eat them at speed so that we could get back in the AC.
What are s'mores and how did they get their name?
Just in case, this is all new to you, let's rewind for a moment with some background. S’mores are a deliciously gooey American favourite made with a combination of fire-roasted marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers squished together to make a sweet sandwich. Most people think that they date back to Girl Scouting in the 1920s and are listed as a treat in the 1927 edition of the Girl Scout manual 'Tramping and Trailing'. In a nod to the treat's addictive qualities, they were dubbed 'Some More' and later shortened to 's'mores'. So now you know.
So am I trying to reinvent this American classic?
Absolutely not, but I AM hoping to make them a more accessible treat, namely one that doesn't always require a campfire. Taking away the need to build a fire, s'mores seem to me to be the perfect mini-dessert; open to spontaneity and over-indulgence and requiring only a sweet tooth and a hot oven. Let me help you to get better acquainted with these Everyday Oven S'mores ...
So how do you make Everyday Oven S'mores?
Gather your ingredients -
- Marshmallows - the large size (as opposed to the mini ones that you might use to decorate a cupcake). Nothing fancy required here. Once you've opened the bag, they do seem to dry up pretty quickly so either seal it well or store them in a plastic box or a jar.
- Chocolate - I used Lindt because it's my favourite and because the squares are thin. We experimented with milk, dark (70%) and salted dark. And in reverse order -
- Dark - there was too much contrast between the sweetness of the marshmallow and the bitterness. It got a thumbs down from our judges, but was good enough to still be eaten. Funny that.
- Salted dark - rather nice actually. The salt helps to bridge the gap between sweet and bitter somehow.
- Milk - I didn't expect it to be my favourite, but it was. The flavours and sweetness levels are in harmony. Delicious
- Biscuits - I couldn't get Graham crackers in Dubai but I can vouch for Rich Tea, Marie biscuits or Leibniz Butterkeks. Some people use digestives, but I think they're too thick. What you are looking for is a thin biscuit, with as little flavour as possible (although I am now thinking that a very thin ginger biscuit might be good ...) It should be large enough to handle a melted square of chocolate and a gooey, squiged, melted marshmallow. I prefer square/rectangular to round but that's more about aesthetics.
For each s'more, you'll need 1 marshmallow, 1 square of chocolate and 2 biscuits. Lay them on a baking tray covered in tin foil or baking parchment (melted marshmallow is horrible to wash off) and bake in the oven for 2-2½ minutes. Then make a sandwich out of the two biscuits, squidge them together and devour.
And why might Everyday Oven S'mores become your ultimate dessert?
- You probably have all the ingredients already.
- They are supremely quick and easy - absolutely no skill required.
- They require no planning and play well to spontaneity - 'Anyone fancy a quick s'mores?'
- They make a fantastic solo dessert when you're home alone.
- They are also a perfect, casual dessert for sharing - they can be prepped on a baking tray beforehand and slipped into the oven when you need them.
- They can be a mini-dessert ('Just one for me, please') or a maxi-indulgence ('Shall we finish the packet?'). And they are so quick to prep and cook that you can leave the oven on and keep making more until you've had enough.
- They are also very well behaved - I was concerned that they would solidify quickly as they cooled but they don't. That means that you can afford to let them cool a little before serving.
- They are popular across the generations - from grandchildren right through to grandparents.
- Moderation is easier when you're just popping them in the oven. If I've invested in getting a whole fire going, I'm probably going to be inclined to keep toasting marshmallows and eating them until I'm sick!
I acknowledge that part of the joy of s'mores is probably the 'experience' and that might well be being in the great outdoors, building a campfire and toasting the marshmallows while sitting round the warmth of the flames into the evening. But I'm on a quest to sprinkle a little magic into our lives with minimum fuss and these Everyday Oven S'mores might just be an easy influx of delight until you are gathering the kindle for your next campfire. Anyone fancy a quick s'mores?Print