Earlier in the summer I received a box of Ghirardelli Milk and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels in the mail, and thus the desire to make something s’mores-related was inspired.
The classic s’mores combination of graham crackers, puffy store-bought marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate have always been too over-the-top sweet for me. I will crave s’mores after not having them for a while, but then after having one I am satisfied until the next time. Based off of this experience, I knew that I wanted to develop something s’mores related but more than just sweet on top of a kind of, let’s be honest, dry cracker.
I originally envisioned something that was like an ice cream sandwich except with marshmallow in the middle. Roughly 6 or so years ago Kristen and I attempted to make homemade marshmallows in the form of See’s Candy Scotchmallows, and all I remember from that experience is that everything was sticky. But I’ve always appreciated the flavor and texture of homemade marshmallows much, much more than the store-bought kind, so I knew that homemade marshmallows would be an integral part of this cookie. The base ended up being a brown butter chocolate chip cookie, but instead of chocolate chips, I used graham crackers. However, I didn’t anticipate the addition of graham crackers preventing the cookies from spreading and making my idea of a sandwich too much of a mouthful.
So that gives you a little bit of an idea of how my process in evolving recipes goes. I also originally had the idea of baking the Ghirardelli chocolate into the cookies which I then had to scrap because it looked less than ideal. If things don’t go how I envisioned them in my head, I attempt to fix it with another solution. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but in the case of my version of s’mores I like this final look much better and think it is much easier to eat than my original vision.
As for the marshmallows, they do take a bit of time and lots of cooking spray, but are worth the extra effort. And for the extra bits, I’m going to finish them up by using them in these S’mores Bars which I’m also looking forward to!
Even though I don’t really believe in kitchen gadgets, using a blow torch that I borrowed from a friend was so much fun that it may have even convinced me that I need one myself.
While usually a summer treat, you can totally make these any time of the year—no campfire necessary to get that definite smell of burning marshmallow.
Open Face S’mores Sandwiches
Yields: 12 open face cookie sandwiches
This feels like an incredibly long recipe but if you make the marshmallows one day and the cookies another, it’s much more manageable.
3 tablespoons (typically 3 packets) unflavored gelatin powder
½ cup cold water
1½ tablespoons vanilla extract
¾ cup water
1½ cups granulated sugar
1¼ cups sugar cane syrup or corn syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
1½ cups powdered sugar
½ cup cornstarch
Spray a 9”x13” baking pan with cooking spray. Use a paper towel to get in the corners and make sure there is a thin film on every surface. Save greased paper for later use.
Combine gelatin, ½ cup cold water and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk with a fork until it reaches the consistency of apple sauce and there are no more lumps.
Pour ¾ cup water into the 4-quart pot. Pour the sugar, corn syrup, and salt on top. Do not stir. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring it to a full, rapid boil. As it is coming to a boil, occasionally dip a pastry brush in water and brush down the sides of the pot. This prevents the syrup from crystallizing. If you don’t have a pastry brush, cover the pan for 2 minutes once the mixture is at a boil so the steam can wash the sides.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and continue boiling until the sugar mixture reaches 247°F to 250°F. Take the pan off the heat and remove the thermometer.
Turn on your mixer to medium speed. Slowly and carefully pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin. When all the syrup has been added, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel (to prevent splatters) and increase the speed to high. Whip for 10 minutes until thick and glossy and the consistency is similar to soft serve. Immediately pour into greased 9”x13” pan and use a greased spatula to help remove as much of the marshmallow as possible. Smooth with greased hands to make the top as even as possible. Let the mixture sit for 6-24 hours to “cure”.
When ready to cut, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Liberally dust a large cutting board with the marshmallow coating and flip out the cured marshmallow. You may need a greased spatula to help coax it out. Dust the top side with more marshmallow coating. Cut into circles with a greased 3-inch round cookie cutter to get 12 rounds. Dust off excess coating and set aside. Store the scraps in an airtight container for several weeks to eat solo or add to other s’mores creations and/or hot chocolate.
Brown Butter Cookie Ingredients
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups crushed graham crackers, about ½-inch pieces
Brown Butter Cookie Steps
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Place half the butter (8 tablespoons) in a heavy-bottomed pot. Melt on medium until it fizzles and spits and the solids start to turn a golden brown. Swirl every once in a while to make sure you haven’t burnt it. Once the butter smells nutty and you see that the bottom is covered with golden bits, remove from the heat. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter with the brown sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and molasses.
Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, until smooth. The mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk, and beat for one minute more.
Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, beating on low speed just until everything is incorporated. Fold in the crushed graham crackers and any extra floury bits on the bottom. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight. If overnight, allow dough to come to room temperature for an easier scooping experience.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF. Scoop 2 tablespoon-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2-inches between the cookies. Using two fingers, flatten slightly. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown and the centers are still puffy.
Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
To assemble, place all 12 marshmallow rounds on a baking sheet. Using a blow torch, and being very careful, brown the outside and the edges of the marshmallows. With a spatula, carefully lift each marshmallow round on top of 12 cookies. Brown any missing spots, being careful to not burn the cookies. Top with Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel chocolates. I preferred the dark chocolate as it added a nice balance. Eat immediately but leftovers can be kept in an airtight container and eaten within 24 hours.