Cover courtesy of Workman Publishing

While contemplating a traditional s’more, author Dan Whalen asked himself what would happen if you kept the essential s’mores architecture – three layers of gooey, melty and crunchy – but changed it up?  The result is over 50 playful recipe combinations from classic to crazy.

You’ve just missed National S’mores Day (it was Aug. 10), but, hey, it’d be tragic to limit your s’mores intake to just a single day a year. The next time you are looking for an unusual dessert idea for a family picnic (the classic firepit) or dinner (yes, you can use your oven to make s’mores), check out a few of the yummy ideas in Whalen’s new book, “S’mores! Gooey, Melty Crunchy Riffs on the Campfire Classic.”

The book is small for a cookbook, in the shape of a square like most of its subject matter. The cover depicts the three layers of deliciousness that make up a typical s’more – chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker. According to Whalen, every s’more recipe must adhere to five rules:

1) It must always be a sandwich.

2) It must contain the key elements of gooey, melty and crunchy.

3) It’s always OK to add more to a s’more.

4) A s’more must look like a s’more.

5) Each recipe makes 12 s’mores, the better to enjoy with friends.

The introduction sets a playful tone for how something so simple can be so delicious. Whalen offers ideas and essentials for preparation, including the four methods for cooking marshmallows to perfection. He includes a two-page history of the beloved campfire treat, starting in 2000 BC when the Egyptians first extracted mallow sap from the root of Althaea Officinalis, aka the marshmallow plant. Who knew?

The first two recipes in the book are for – what else? – homemade marshmallows and homemade honey graham crackers. The Classic S’mores recipe is followed by a list of a couple dozen “wildcards” to potentially add, from almonds to toasted coconut. The recipes are then organized from Classic to Crazy, starting with the peanut butter cup s’more and offering a variety of candy bar options. Our favorites: peanut butter cup, Mounds and/or Peppermint Patty. We also tried using Rice Krispie treats, Oreos and potato chips instead of the grahams. It’s hard to go wrong.

On the savory side, the Caprese S’more is a fun and delicious spin on the popular appetizer – not to mention that mozzarella looks like a marshmallow. Fresh basil, olive oil, toasted cheese balls, grape tomatoes and focaccia-style crackers make a perfect stack.

The book inspired me to make salted caramel sauce that I poured on a traditional s’more and also used to make the Caramel Apple S’more – the fruit makes it less gluttonous, right? My family was crazy about the Elvis S’more. The King is credited with devising the once-curious combination of peanut butter, banana and bacon, which Whalen borrows to make the Elvis S’more. “These ingredients come together in a few awesome ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’ bites,” Whalen writes.

 

Elvis S’mores

Makes 12. Takes 15 minutes

 

Nonstick cooking spray

12 whole graham crackers, broken in half

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 very ripe bananas, each cut into 12 pieces

6 bacon slices, cooked until crispy and broken in half width-wise

12 regular marshmallows

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and turn broiler to its highest setting. Preheat for 5 to 10 minutes. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place 12 graham crackers on the prepared baking sheet. Spread about 1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter on each square. Top each square with 2 banana slices and 1 piece of bacon. Squish each marshmallow a bit with your hands and place 1 marshmallow on each piece of bacon.

Broil the s’mores until the marshmallows are golden brown on top, about 3 minutes. Keep a close eye on them.

Transfer the s’mores to a serving dish and top with the remaining graham cracker squares. Serve immediately.


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