Kimberly Winter Stern
Though I don’t remember the exact time and place where I experienced my first gooey, chocolaty, finger-licking, lip-smacking campfire treat affectionately known as a s’more, I’m pretty sure it was consumed during a rustic Girl Scout outing. At age 13, I had already collected and sewn enough badges on my standard-issue green sash—hospitality, books, nature and the like—to certify me as a serious Scout, so communing with my fellow friends while gorging on the iconic graham-cracker-meets-singed-marshmallows-and-melty-chocolate-bars seemed downright recreational. I wasn’t earning anything but pure tastebud delight.
As childhood memories bubble to the surface decades later, the humble sandwich sweet is a repeated culinary touchstone, surprising me at different intervals along life’s road.
A s’more whisks me back to that unidentified campsite, my mittened hand hovering over a crackling fire, clutching a foraged stick —the whittled pointy end skewering a teetering trio of pillowy marshmallows, blistering from the flame’s heat. I can be transported to my first apartment, where a past-its-prime gas stove’s burner became a makeshift cooker for the s’mores obligatory binding.
And a favorite page from my s’mores scrapbook was the first home my newlywed husband and I purchased, where our Sears-delivered Weber grill (the one I still have on my patio, many years later) became a make-believe campfire during a housewarming party. The summertime menu of hamburgers and brats, baked beans and mustard potato salad was a perfect segue into the s’mores. Swigging beer and eating mountains of s’mores that night, giggling with friends like I did eons before, I remember thinking this confection alone could help promote world peace.
In early June of this year I was sitting in the lovely dining room of Francesca’s at Sunset, a five-star restaurant at the Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio. After a day of spa pampering, lolling by a secluded pool and meandering through a serene nature trail canopied with lush vegetation, I was eager to dive into an extravaganza of exemplary cuisine. A starched linen napkin rested in my lap, my left arm casually draped across the upholstered chair; I was anticipating the arrival of a bowl of frost white gazpacho, politely discussing recent travels with my tablemates.
I faced the resort’s terraced pool areas, my gaze fixated on a crowd gathered ‘round an outdoor fire pit. Instantly I knew: there was s’mores making on the premises. I excused myself, stepped onto the balcony and watched as kids—and a generous smattering of adults, clutching cocktails—held sticks with those familiar white puffs of sugar bobbing over licking flames. A nearby table held a buffet of s’mores-constructing ingredients: stacks of graham crackers, chocolate bars and bowls of marshmallows that glowed in the setting sun. The laughter drifted up to where I stood, the gazpacho and entrée of corn crepe-lobster enchilada patiently waiting.
Though my dessert that night at Francesca’s was world-class, those poolside s’mores being made in the Texas dusk kept haunting me. The only consolation for not participating in that nightly fireside ritual at the La Cantera was the fact that I added another page to my s’mores scrapbook—this time as a voyeur.
National S’mores Day was celebrated last week, but anyone who has indulged in the treat knows that everyday can be a s’more kind of day. And though the classic s’more—white marshmallows and a chocolate bar square squished between two graham crackers—is the potent stuff of childhood memories, I decided to have a little fun with the recipe. And Emma Bland, the packaged food and candy manager at the Leawood, Kan. Dean & DeLuca store, was more than happy to oblige me in my search for ingredients to make some fancy-schmancy s’mores. If you’re not in the mood to concoct your own s’mores—or if you want the ultimate experience—order the Dean & DeLuca S’mores Gift Set. Remember: campfire not included.
Marshmallow Deluxe S’mores
Handmade marshmallows are all the rage; I’ve used pink raspberry ‘mallows, but any variety will do.
This gourmet s’more uses chocolate-covered graham crackers with a schmear of hazelnut and cocoa sauce… Nutella would work well, too. The piece de resistance? Chopped hazelnuts, sprinkled on top of the toasted marshmallows. Napkins at the ready here!
Nutty Butter S’mores
Chocolate-covered matzo with a spread of peanut butter and melty marshmallows … these might become your new addiction.
Kansas City-based freelance writer Kimberly Winter Stern, a former corporate manager, caterer and food stylist, is constantly on the hunt for stories that need to be told and words that need to be written. She pens articles for national, regional and local publications on a diverse range of topics including food, shelter, design, lifestyle, business and people and writes a food blog called “Kim Dishes.” This writer may have been given product and/or other compensation from Dean & DeLuca for this post.