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JOY OF BAKING

Open-faced s’mores

By Jennifer Wolcott
Globe Correspondent / August 19, 2009

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Serves 6

Freshly made s’mores, with just the right mix of crunch and warm gooiness, are assembled simply with squares of chocolate and slightly charred, roasted marshmallows sandwiched between a couple of graham crackers. Next to ice cream, s’mores are perhaps summer’s most beloved sweet treat, first made by the campfire, where the smoke of the last embers blackened the marshmallows and made the chocolate melt too. It’s hard to beat that campfire combination, but Phyllis Kaplowitz, executive chef at Baker’s Best in Newton has taken a shot at it. Her s’mores are better tasting and snazzier looking than those you might recall from scouting days. This recipe won’t qualify for any quick-and-easy cooking contests. Kaplowitz makes both the graham crackers and marshmallows from scratch (though she buys the chocolate.) She stamps out both the marshmallows and crackers, but to streamline the recipe, you can simply cut yours into squares. You need a candy thermometer to make the marshmallows; allow at least half a day for them to set; and several hours for the cracker dough to firm. It’s a great rainy day activity for little bakers (and a parent).This old-fashioned confection wins in both flavor and presentation.

MARSHMALLOWS

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
6 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch. Use a whisk to stir them together. Use half of the mixture to coat bottom and sides of a rimmed baking sheet about 9-by-13-inches. Set remaining half of mixture aside.

2. In another bowl, put 2 tablespoons of the water. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and set aside.

3. In a electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons water, corn syrup, and granulated sugar. Bring to a boil and let the mixture bubble steadily until it registers 235 degrees (the soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture until it dissolves.

5. With the mixer on low, beat the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Add the vanilla and beat on high until the whites are stiff and completely cool.

6. With a metal cake spatula, spread the marshmallow mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining confectioners’ sugar mixture. Let the marshmallows sit, uncovered, for 12 to 24 hours.

7. When the marshmallows are firm, cut the mixture into 2-inch squares. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet; set aside.

CRACKERS AND FILLING

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and chilled
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Extra flour (for sprinkling)
4 bars (3 ounces each) milk or dark chocolate, broken into 2-inch pieces
1. In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pulse to mix them. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla. Add the honey mixture to the flour mixture and pulse a few times until dough just comes together in soft, sticky clumps. It should not form a ball.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead gently to form a flat cake. Shape it into a 1-inch-thick square. Wrap in foil and chill for 3 hours or until firm.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Divide the dough in half; return one piece to the refrigerator. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough into a large rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick, adding flour as necessary. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares. Transfer them to the baking sheets and chill for 40 minutes. Reroll the scraps to make more crackers. While the first batch chills, repeat with the second batch of dough.

6. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Bake the crackers for 25 minutes or until browned and slightly firm.

7. Turn the oven to the broiler setting. Remove the parchment paper from the baking sheets.

8. On one of the baking sheets, place a cracker, a piece of chocolate, and a marshmallow. Continue assembling until all the components are used. Set the crackers about 8-inches from the broiling element and watching them carefully, broil for 2 to 4 minutes or until the marshmallows are lightly charred. Serve open-faced. Adapted from Baker’s Best