Monday, March 15, 2010
I'll have s'more, please.
I was able to spend some time in the kitchen yesterday making vanilla bean marshmallows and graham crackers which were destined to become some seriously delicious s'mores. I shared my desire to make these last week after I had been drooling over the homemade graham crackers that Shauna of Piece of Cake made back in February. Shauna's graham cracker recipe is a bit different than your typical graham cracker. I would describe them as having an almost shortbread texture and flavor but, with the use of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and bit of whole wheat flour, have a much deeper flavor. Rolled thin and baked crisp, these graham crackers have a great "snap" when bitten into and a hardier texture than the fragile store-bought variety.
I made vanilla bean marshmallows, a variation on the usual Martha recipe I always use, to pair with the graham crackers. I decided to cut mine into little rounds to mimic the darling marshmallows at Miette. To toast the marshmallows for the s'mores, I pierced mine with a bamboo skewer and toasted them right over the flame on my gas stove. I have a feeling they could just as easily be toasted over the flame of a candle. How cute would it be to have some friends over to watch your favorite show and make s'mores over a big pillar candle? Can you imagine?! The graham crackers and marshmallows could also be packaged together with a bar of chocolate, a few bamboo skewers and a candle for the sweetest gift ever. Yum!
Homemade Graham Crackers
Adapted from Miette Patisserie, San Francisco via Piece of Cake
The key to getting the crispiest cookies with an awesome "snap" is to roll the dough very thin--try for as close to 1/8 of an inch as you can. This is a very buttery, soft dough--be sure to chill it completely before rolling and then again chilling the cut cookies well before baking them, otherwise they will be maddeningly difficult to work with and will spread during baking.
Makes about 4 dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies*
2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar**
1/4 cup honey
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Position an oven rack to the center position and preheat it to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Whisk together flour, wheat flour, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and brown sugar, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and beat in the honey. Stir in dry ingredients on low speed. Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat it into a disc, wrap well. Refrigerate until firm but still pliable, about one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out very thin, about an 1/8-inch thick (you can gather the dough scraps and reroll as necessary). Cut out cookies with a 2 to 3-inch cookie cutter and place on the prepared baking sheets, a dozen per sheet. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired. Chill the cut cookies on the sheets for at least 15 minutes before baking. Bake 14 to 16 minutes until golden. Let the cookies set for a minute before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for a week or more.
*I use a 2 1/4-inch scalloped cutter and got about 60 cookies.
**I used light brown sugar as my dark brown had turned all dry and crumbly.
Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes about 40 marshmallows*
2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin (3 packages)
1 cup cold water, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let stand while you make the syrup mixture.
Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.
Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees.(firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanillas; beat to incorporate.
Grease and generously dust a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with confectioners’ sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan, spreading it into corners and smoothing the surface. Dust with confectioners’ sugar; let stand at least 4 hours or up to overnight, uncovered, to dry out. Turn out onto a board; cut marshmallows with a dry hot knife into 1 1/2-inch squares, and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Store in an air tight container for a week or more.
*I cut mine using a 1 1/2-inch cutter and got 54 round marshmallows plus scraps for snacking.