I'm going to let you in on a little secret... I don't like S'mores.
And I can tell you exactly why. Reason #1: I don't particularly care for graham crackers. They are bland and too dry. Reason #2: I don't like milk chocolate. Anytime we went camping and made s'mores, there was only ever milk chocolate and i'm a huge dark chocolate fan. Reason #3: I hate marshmallows. I don't like the texture, I don't like how they are overly sweet, and for some reason, food products with too much gelatin (gummy bears, jell-o, etc) give me a headache.
The truth is, S'mores as a whole are just too sweet. There isn't a balance of flavors. Since I don't like the three separate components of a S'more, I stopped eating them all together. Every time I tell someone that I don't like S'mores, similarly to when I tell people that I don't like avocados, they would be stunned. "You don't like S'MORES??!!" and I would answer, shamefully for some odd reason, "Yes. It's true." and after years and years of getting the same baffled response, I decided that I would give the S'more another chance.
...And I still hated them.
But, I thought, what if I reinvented the S'more? Was it possible? Could I balance the flavors so that they weren't overly sweet anymore? Would it at all resemble the original thing?
Yes it was possible. Yes I balanced the flavors. And yes, it still resembled a classic S'more.. but fancier.
You see, when something isn't good enough on it's own, my solution always is to make it myself. This is a solution that has rarely let me down. Yes, sometimes it is a lot of work. Sometimes it can be too much work, in which case I just opt for the subpar store-bought version. I had completely given up on S'mores but I thought that I at least had to try. So here's what I came up with:
The Honey Graham Cracker Cookie:
A shortbread-like cookie made with a mix of all purpose and whole wheat flour which gives the cookies that nutty flavor that you look for in graham crackers. To sweeten these crackers I chose to use a mix of brown sugar and honey. Honey because they are honey graham crackers. As for the spices, I used tiny amounts of cinnamon and cardamom. These two spices really elevate the graham crackers from being bland and 'cardboard' tasting to a cookie that is lightly spiced, warm, and flavorful yet subtle. These homemade graham crackers are honestly the best graham crackers I have ever had. The dough is simple to whip up and they only take about 12 minutes to bake! They come out crunchy and buttery and I am just so pleased with these little things!
The Dark Chocolate Ganache:
As I stated above, I don't really like milk chocolate. It's just too sweet in my opinion and when paired with a sweet dessert (S'mores in this case) it just makes the whole thing TOO sweet. I do believe that there is a time and place for milk chocolate, however, this is not the case when making S'mores. I find that using dark chocolate created the perfect balance when paired with the graham cracker and marshmallow meringue. Chocolate ganache is easy to make and only requires two ingredients: good quality chocolate and heavy cream.
The Marshmallow Meringue:
Again, as stated above, I hate marshmallows. I have never liked them. I remember when I was a child being disappointed when I got Peeps in my Easter basket or chocolate covered marshmallows in my Christmas stocking. I disliked the texture so much that even a tiny bit of a marshmallow made me feel sick. They also tasted extremely artificial and I can only imagine what ingredients go into a store-bought marshmallow. The solution to this was to make a homemade marshmallow meringue. I chose to stick with a meringue because I think gelatin (or some other common ingredient in gummy/jello-like foods) gives me headaches. Weird, I know, but that's just how it is *shrug*. The marshmallow meringue tastes like a marshmallow but it less solid-- think of the meringue topping on a lemon meringue pie. It pipes beautifully, holds it's shape, and can be toasted-- like a classic S'more!
I decided to do a sort of 'deconstructed' S'more because, hey, it looks a little fancier that a classic smooshed S'more! They are also bite size which I love because you don't have to worry about taking that first bite of the S'more and having chocolate and marshmallow ooze out all over your hands. It consists of a single Honey Graham Cracker on the bottom, then there is a small amount of dark chocolate ganache in the center of the cracker, and that is then covered with the Marshmallow Meringue. The last (and funnest) step is to use a handy-dandy kitchen torch to toast the marshmallow meringue.
These Mini S'mores Cookies are elegant and taste absolutely delicious and they contain all of the classic elements of a S'more. They are perfect if you do or don't like S'mores and are interested in trying a new take on them! Thanks for visiting A Common Kitchen this week everyone!
Special Equipment for This Recipe:
Digital Kitchen Scale-- This is the one I purchased
Kitchen Torch-- This is the one I purchased
Mini S'mores Cookies
Makes about 24 Cookies
For the Cookies
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
11 Tablespoons Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Honey
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
4 (about 1/2 Cup) ounces Good Quality Dark Chocolate Bar (such as Girardelli), chopped into small uniform pieces
4 (about 1/2 Cup) Ounces Heavy Cream
For the Marshmallow Meringue
6 Ounces (about 2/3 Cup) Egg Whites
9 Ounces (about 1 1/4 Cup) White Granulated Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 of a Vanilla Bean, split in half and seeds scraped out
For the Honey Graham Crackers
1. In a bowl, sift together the AP flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom. Whisk everything together to combine and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, a full five minutes. Add in the honey and mix again until fully combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for 15-20 seconds to ensure everything is combined.
3. Add all of the dry ingredients into the stand mixer bowl and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together then increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough starts to form into a ball.
4. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface (countertop) and dump the dough on top of it. Knead the dough a few times to bring it together into a solid ball. Flatten the dough into a round disk about 1 1/2 inches thick and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.
5. Once the dough has chilled at least two hours, preheat the oven to 350ºf and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Unwrap your dough and place it on top of the floured surface. Roll out the dough so that it is 1/4 inch thick. Using a 1.5 inch round cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as you can. Carefully transfer the rounds to the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart, and freeze for 5 minutes. Remove the rounds from the freezer and using a toothpick, prick three holes in the center of the cookies. This will keep them from puffing up in the middle when the bake.
7. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Once they are done baking, let them sit on the baking sheets for five minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack. Set aside.
For the Chocolate Ganache:
1. In a medium sized bowl, add the chopped chocolate.
2. In a small saucepan, add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once the cream is at a bare simmer, pour it over the dark chocolate. Shake the bowl around to make sure all of the chocolate pieces are covered. Allow the cream and chocolate to sit without mixing for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, whisk the mixture until you get smooth chocolate ganache. Set aside.
3. When ready to use the ganache, place it in the refrigerator for 4-5 minutes to thicken it slightly. Remove it from the fridge a give it a mix. You want the ganache to be the stiffness of a buttercream.
For the Marshmallow Meringue
1. In a medium sized bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla bean seeds. Whisk everything together until combined.
2. Create a Double-Boiler: Fill a medium sized saucepan with about two inches of water and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Place your bowl on top of the pot of water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does NOT touch the water. If it does, you need to transfer the mixture to a bigger bowl that won't touch the water. Cook the meringue mixture, stirring constantly, until it reaches 175ºf on a thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, this takes about 10 minutes and you can rub a little bit of the mixture between two fingers and it should be hot to the touch and should have no more sugar granules in it.
3. Transfer the meringue mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on high speed until the meringue is completely cool to the touch and holds stiff peaks, about 8-10 minutes.
To Assemble the Mini S'mores Cookies
1. Place a heat safe cooling rack on top of a large baking sheet. Place all of the graham crackers on top of the cooling rack about 1 inch apart.
2. In a piping bag fitted with a round (Wilton 1A) tip, add all of your chocolate ganache and set aside. Fill a pastry bag fitted a large open star (Wilton 8B) with as much of the marshmallow meringue as you can fit. Set aside.
3. Pipe a small amount of chocolate ganache into the center of each graham cracker, creating a little "mountain" in the middle. Place all of the cookies in the freezer for five minutes to harden the ganache. Repeat with all of the cookies.
4. Holding your pastry bag with the marshmallow meringue perpendicular the cookie, and straight above the ganache, apply even pressure to the bag, creating another little "mountain" of meringue, releasing pressure at the top to create the little swirl. Repeat with all of the cookies, or as many as you can get.
5. "Toast" the Marshmallow Meringue: Using a kitchen torch, evenly toast the marshmallow meringue on all sides. If you don't have a kitchen torch you can preheat the broiler in the oven and stick the cookies underneath it but make sure to keep your eye on them so they don't burn!!
These Mini S'mores Cookies are best if eaten the day they are made, but they can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
*Disclosure: This post does contain Amazon Affiliate Links. If you click the link and purchase an item I will get a small commission.