Written and Photographed by Paulette Phlipot
Thinking about my childhood summer nights and campfires instantly reminds me of laughter, stories, music, and, of course, roasting marshmallows for s’mores with family and friends. S’mores—the all-time classic campfire treat loved by everyone—never seem to go out of style.
Whether you’re sitting under a starlit sky deep in the woods or entertaining in the comfort of the backyard, combining ooey-gooey marshmallows, buttery graham crackers, and melted chocolate is a crowd pleaser. Over the years, the ingredients of this classic dessert have remained the same, but, just like roasting sticks have evolved in time, so have fun twists and variations of this campfire delight.
The exact origin of s’mores is unknown, yet Loretta Scott Crew is credited for the first published recipe in the book “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts” (1927). As a Campfire Girls leader, she sought out an easy-to-make treat for the girls to enjoy while they gathered around the fire. The name of these time-tested treats totally makes sense when you think about it—this abbreviation of the phrase “some more” reflects the fact that you can’t get enough of these delectable sweets. The echo of young children asking for “some more” etched the name and tradition as we know it.
Although the classic combination of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows never grows old, I’m game for shaking things up a bit, like using gingerbread or chocolate chip cookies as the “cracker,” or substituting mint or cherry-filled chocolate, instead of a simple chocolate bar. How about a chocolate spread and a nut butter in place of the chocolate bar all together? Step things up a notch by sprinkling toasted coconut or broken pretzel pieces over the melted marshmallow. My favorite twist is adding fresh herbs. (I always find ways to add seasonal herbs to just about anything. So why not s’mores?)
The marshmallow remains the steadfast ingredient that should not be swapped out. Still, you can try using different flavors, like Persephone’s vanilla marshmallows. If you want to keep your s’mores vegan, don’t worry! Most grocery stores carry at least one brand of vegan marshmallows (like Dandies found at Barrels and Bins or Whole Foods). Or, if you are like me and get a kick out of making things from scratch, give homemade marshmallows a try. It’s easier than you think, and you get to control what goes into them. No need to remind the kids that these are “healthier” as they gobble them down. (And, bonus! No need to worry about how many they’ve eaten, either.)
*Although delicious and loved by kids, homemade marshmallows definitely melt quicker than store bought marshmallows. So, you will need to keep a close eye on them once placed next to heat.
The key to a great s’more is making sure the marshmallow is melted enough to create the ooze-factor. And the art of roasting to this degree takes some patience and practice, requiring a delicate balance of rotation and distance from the heat. How long to roast is debatable, as what is considered “perfectly done” for one connoisseur may not please another. Plus, the sticky component is responsible not just for holding everything together, but also for melding the flavors of the sweet chocolate and crunchy graham.
If you don’t plan on going camping anytime soon, or you don’t have a fire pit in your backyard, you can still get your s’mores fix easily at home by warming your marshmallows in the oven or on the grill. And if you need an excuse to buy another kitchen tool, a culinary torch (most often used for caramelizing crème brûlée) works great in a pinch. Better yet—jump on the bandwagon and get a tabletop fire pit, so you can easily roast marshmallows, inside or out.
National S’mores Day is August 10!
Check out my twists on this classic recipe:
Maple Bacon S’mores
The sweet and salty combo makes everything better! And this s’more rendition—complete with maple bacon, Persephone marshmallows and graham cookies—is over-the-top.
For the Bacon:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Brush both sides of each piece of bacon with maple syrup.
- Bake for 10 minutes, and then flip each slice. Continue baking until crispy.
- When done, set the bacon aside on paper towels.
* Recipe adapted from smokedmeatsunday.com
For the s’mores:
Persephone’s vanilla marshmallows
Persephone’s graham cracker cookies
Dark chocolate (70% or higher–I love the Chocolove brand)
Ground black pepper
Flaky sea salt
- Cut the bacon pieces in half.
- Place 1/2 a piece of cooked bacon on top of the graham cookie topped with chocolate. Next, add a toasted marshmallow and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, ground black pepper, and fresh rosemary.
- Top it with a smidge of maple syrup (if desired), and another graham cookie. Squeeze gently. Enjoy!
Vegan Strawberry S’mores
Fully embrace summer—without leaving anyone out—by concocting a vegan s’more, berry included.
Vegan marshmallows (like Dandies)
Vegan graham crackers
- Add a fresh strawberry to your roasting stick and roast it alongside your marshmallow.
- Carefully take the roasted strawberry off of the stick first; slice it in half.
- Place 1/2 of the sliced berry on top of a graham cracker topped with chocolate. Then, place the toasted marshmallow and the other berry on
top of that, before putting on the graham cracker lid.
- Top with a couple of fresh mint leaves.
- Squeeze the graham crackers together carefully.
Tip: Place half a graham cracker with chocolate on a flat rock near the edge of the fire. Let it be while you roast the marshmallow, so it’ll be melted when you are ready.
My daughter’s friends beg me to make homemade marshmallows for her birthday each year. I created this cake as a way
to honor the birthday cake tradition, while also adhering to their request.
1 cup warm water (split into 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin (I like Perfect Supplements brand)
1 cup organic honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 chocolate bar
- Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the springform pan and up the side about an inch.
- Chop the chocolate bar into bite size pieces and set aside.
- Add the gelatin to the stand mixer bowl and pour 1/2 a cup of water over it. Set the bowl into the stand.
- Place the 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the honey, salt, and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Place a candy thermometer into the saucepan. Stir occasionally, while also keeping a close eye on
the mixture, so it does not boil over. Remove from heat as soon as it hits the softball stage (240°F), about 10 minutes.
- Turn the stand mixer on low. Slowly pour the honey mixture into the bowl. Turn up the speed a little at a time until you are able to run it on high. (Go slow, so the mixture does not splatter outside of the bowl.)
- Continue beating on high for about 10 minutes, until fluffy with soft peaks.
- Turn the mixer to low. Add the chocolate pieces, and then turn the mixer off, as soon as they are incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into the parchment lined springform pan. Let it rest on the counter for several hours.
- Remove the springform pan and place the marshmallow cake on a cake stand.
- Use a culinary torch to brown the top of the cake. (If you don’t have a torch, carefully place the cake under your oven broiler. Not too close!)
- For serving, place a graham cracker on each plate before adding a slice of the cake on top. Drizzle with caramel sauce.
*Recipe adapted from mommypotamus.com.