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By Daniel Walker
The smell of campfire smoke, the great outdoors…it’s nearly impossible for me to consider these two things together without conjuring up images of toasting marshmallows over an open flame. And of course, there is perhaps no higher calling for a toasted marshmallow than being wrapped up in chocolate and graham cracker—a little something we all know as the “s’more.” It’s difficult to find a “bad” s’more, really. Even the cheapest chocolate, the most charred marshmallow makes for fairly decent eating.
But there are several ways to upgrade your s’mores–and creating a more “grown-up” version of this classic treat brings new life to a campfire favorite. Here’s a few of our favorite ways to spruce up your s’mores.
Bring Better Chocolate
Simple but true. Step outside the generic brown Hershey’s bar and splurge a little on your chocolate. You probably have several favorite higher-end brands, the kind you might typically reserve for eating unadorned and on their own. I tend to favor the dark chocolate bars over milk—it makes a nice, bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of marshmallow. I like TCHO, Askinosie, Olive & Sinclair, or Patric, but just grab your favorite. Even a little Ghirardelli goes a long way. Perhaps some would scoff at adding these to a relatively pedestrian camping snack, but I assure you they make wonderful additions to your s’mores.
Get The Reese’s Ready
One of the simplest of upgrades, but one which seems perfectly suited for s’mores. Indeed, you’ll even find many grocery stores already placing Reese’s peanut butter cups in those s’mores “all-in-one” display racks. Clearly, the trend is catching on. But the special combination of peanut butter and chocolate is rarely a bad idea, and here, these perfectly size, individually-wrapped peanut butter cups make for a wonderful way to give your s’mores a helping hand.
Many fruits could probably be added to your s’mores, but I’ve always found a ripe banana to be one of the best. It’s squishy and soft, its flavor is unique but not overpowering. When wedged between chocolate and a hot, toasted marshmallow, it’s an extra layer of flavor your tongue will come to love.
Cookies for Crackers
Why be confined to plain old graham crackers? They’re fine and all, but sneak in a surprise guest to your next s’mores party. Exchange grahams for your favorite cookie and watch the magic happen. I’d recommend going with a relatively simple cookie, one without a lot of complicated textures and flavors to keep the essence of the s’more relatively untouched. I like peanut butter cookies, gingersnaps, simple sugar cookies, or snickerdoodles…all of which make even better additions when they’re homemade.
Spread It On
Slather on something special next time you’re making s’mores. I mentioned the beauty of adding peanut butter above, but why stop there? Try some Nutella, almond butter, speculoos or cookie butter. Or take the fruity route and add lemon curd, apple butter, or fig paste. These spreads are especially good when added immediately after a hot marshmallow as they melt slightly, oozing out the sides of your now sensational s’mores.
Call on Caramel
It goes with saying that chocolate and caramel were made for each other. But given the right preparation, they create an amazing s’more. First toast your marshmallow, then grab a square of the Sweeteeth Sea is for Caramel Bar (smooth caramel encased in dark chocolate with a sprinkling of sea salt). Sandwich them between the grahams and place on a platform of folded aluminum foil. (It helps to use the two-tong hot dog roasters, on which you can balance the foil.) Then roast over the fire, flipping the s’more occasionally. Don’t hold to close to the fire though or you’ll char the grahams.
Do you have a s’more upgrade to share? Let me know in the comments below!
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Daniel Walker is a native of Salt Lake City, but has spent his last few years obsessing over food in Dallas and Little Rock. He currently writes for the Arkansas Times reviewing restaurants and contributing to the food blog “Eat Arkansas.”