S'mores Tarts


Campfires and s'mores compose many of my childhood summer memories. As a Girl Scout growing up, s'mores were our reward after a long day of hiking, canoeing, and cooking dinner over flames at camp. We would sing silly songswith laughter as our melodyand toast marshmallows, stretching out these perfect moments with a just one more, please. I hold these memories particularly close when settling into the summer season.

It is fitting then, especially considering my own experience, that s'mores originated with the Girl Scouts. The first recipe for this dessert appeared in the handbook Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts in 1927. The folklore says that when a girl had eaten one she would always ask for "some more." Over time, the popularity of the treat grew until it became the summer phenomena it is today. The dessert still holds ties to its roots, however. A s'more made over a roaring campfire will always be superior to any counterpart. The smoke, night sky, and good company are irreplaceable ingredients.

S'mores are not often thought of as an elegant dessert (as anyone with a crumb-filled lap and a sticky marshmallow face and fingers would agree). With these s'mores tarts, I wanted to find a little more of that sophistication while keeping the traditional flavors intact. Thus, a thin crust holds in a rich chocolate filling and is topped with an airy marshmallow topping. 

While I still adore a classic campfire s'more, I find them too sweet to eat more than one. With the tarts, I was able to cut back on the sugar by using dark chocolate and covering the tarts partially with the marshmallow topping. Of course, if the classic sweetness is your preference, please use your favorite milk chocolate and drown these tarts in as much toasted marshmallow as you desire. 

S'mores Tarts feature a rich chocolate filling surrounded by a cookie crust and topped with a vanilla flavored marshmallow topping. The marshmallow topping can be toasted using an oven broiler, but flame torches yield much more control with the finished product. I personally find kitchen torches to be small, disappointing, and overpriced. If you are up for a bit of adventure, acquaint yourself with your pyromaniac side, and pull out a full-size blow torch for these tarts. You'll be glad you did. 

One Year Ago: Mixed Berry Quinoa Crumble
Two Years Ago: Rhubarb Oatmeal, Dill Dinner Rolls, Sparkling Lemon Drop, and Berry Cheesecake Tarts
Three Years Ago: Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Cherry Cream Cheese Muffins, Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa, Vegan Brownies, and Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie
Four Years Ago: Chocolate Almond Oat Bars, Tropical Vacation Cocktail, Blueberry Granola, and Bizcochitos
Five Years Ago: Blueberry & Raspberry Mini Tarts

S'mores Tarts

Yields 6 small tarts

Tart Dough
8 tablespoons (115 grams) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup (210 grams) all-purpose flour

In a medium mixing bowl, place the butter and sugar. Beat until lighter in color and texture. Add the egg, vanilla, and salt and continue mixing until uniform, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flour, mixing until the dough comes together and begins to gather in the bowl. A food processor can also be used to speed up the process, if available.

Remove dough and shape into a cylinder. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). 

Unwrap dough and slice cylinder into 6 even pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each slice into a circle 2-inches larger than the tart pan. Gently place dough into pan, pressing it along the edges. If necessary, additional dough can be used to cover up cracks or tears. Using a rolling pin, roll it along the top of the pan to cut off excess dough. Puncture a couple dozen holes into the bottom of the tart using a fork; this will prevent the dough from rising.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they are dry in appearance and touch. Cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Filling
6 ounces (170 grams) milk, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate, finely chopped (as per preference)
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream *

Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Set aside.

On the stovetop or in the microwave, heat the cream until near boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth.

Divide chocolate filling evenly between the cooled tart shells, using an offset spatula to smooth the top of each tart.

Marshmallow Topping **
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wipe a large bowl with a paper towel soaked in a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar to remove traces of grease. Add egg whites and sugar and, over a double boiler, whisk constantly over hot water until the sugar dissolves. When rubbed between your fingers, the egg whites should feel hot and smooth (approximately a temperature of 140 degrees F/60 degrees C). This will generally take 3-8 minutes, depending on the temperature of the water.

Using a mixer, whip the egg whites until thick, glossy peaks form. This may take anywhere from 8-10 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Using a pastry bag, pipe topping over each tart. The tarts may be covered partially (as shown) or fully covered. Alternatively, an offset spatula can be used to spread topping over the tarts. 

For a toasted look, use a kitchen torch (or a full-sized blow torch, as I did) to add the toasted look to the topping. I recommend practicing on leftover topping before starting on the tarts. Alternatively, an oven set to broil can be used to toast the topping. This is a little less precise, but will also yield a toasted appearance.

Store and serve at room temperature. The marshmallow topping may "weep" slightly on the second day, but it does not affect the flavor or texture of the tarts.

* I have also used soy milk (dairy-free) to great effect.

** The recipe yields enough marshmallow topping to completely cover the tarts, if desired.

S'mores Pancakes

S'mores Pancakes

S'mores Pancakes

I like to spoil myself during breakfast. I know I've mentioned it before, but a hot breakfast is my favorite way to start the day. Each morning I wake up early enough to give myself time to relax and indulge in one of my favorite meals. The rush of the morning often dictates the pace of my day. Taking a moment away from the haste of throwing on clothes and the stress of doing something with the mop on my head allows me to get my mind in the right place and my head on straight. Literally.

Breakfast is the soft yawn in an early morning.

S'mores Pancakes

Though I do enjoy indulging in warm weekday breakfasts, weekends are where the true decadence takes place. I often make myself a pleasant brunch of pancakes and waffles for one (or two, if a friend is near). Some days there are a couple scrambled eggs or a slice or two of bacon, but carbs are often my go-to place for comfort. With the long, relaxing hours of a weekend morning, the recipe innovator in me comes out to play.

Without the free time and a love for dessert, I'm not sure these cappuccino pancakes, dark chocolate oatmeal, and vanilla rum-soaked french toast would have ever found their way onto my plate.

S'mores Pancakes

Perhaps one of the most quintessential summer desserts is the s'more—graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Since I've only been near a bonfire once or twice this summer, I haven't had my fill of summer s'mores just yet. Turning s'mores into a pancake was surprisingly easy (with exceptionally delicious results). So often when taking a simple dessert (like s'mores) and using the flavors to transform another treat (pancakes), the flavor profile isn't quite the same or one flavor is more dominant than another. However, at first bite, I can say with great certainty that the profile of these pancakes fits the source almost exactly.

And, oh, that is a very good thing.

S'mores Pancakes

S'mores Pancakes turn a weekend morning into a special occasion. The pancakes are infused with graham cracker crumbs, which make the pancakes taste just as they should. Add a few chocolate chips to the batter and the warm pancakes melt the chocolate in a dreamy way. Marshmallow fluff is turned into a syrup and drizzled over the top, turning a simple pancake into a beloved summer treat.

Read More

S'mores Cupcakes

S'mores Cupcakes

S'mores Cupcake

In between my break away from physics and finding a job in an established bakery, I worked in a small cake shop selling special order cakes and thousands of cake and cookie decorating equipment. Though my job title was "baker," it was a far stretch from my actual job description. I spent one or two mornings a week baking up boxed cake mixes; my employer hovering over my shoulder convinced I was going to mess them up.

It was frustrating in many aspects. Though my boss was truly a lovely woman who went out on a limb to give me a chance, the job wasn't quite what I had dreamed of. I spent my hours daydreaming of a bakery where I had freedom of ingredients and the trust to make something delicious (it would eventually happen, but not today). The cake shop didn't even have a stick of butter buried in the back of the fridge. I looked.

S'mores Cupcake S'mores Cupcake

When I wasn't in the back of the store baking, I was out front helping customers and keeping the shelves stocked. The store was never terribly busy. Most of my time was spent languidly lining the food colors in stick straight lines, the sound of my breathing and the shuffling of paper in the back the only noises in the stilled shop. Among the quiet activities, attending to The Wall of Sprinkles became the most time consuming. The wall held at least a hundred different packages of sprinkles of every imaginable shape and color—jimmies, nonpareils, dragees, sanding sugar, crystal sugar, holiday sprinkles, and so forth. It was, in essence, a sprinkle lover's mecca.

Rather than "baker," my job title really should have read "sprinkle curator." I attentively filled the sprinkle containers by weight, tapped them shut tightly, and priced them with love. I arranged them by color, type, and holiday on the shelves—five containers in back and four in front. I never meant to get irrationally obsessed with The Wall of Sprinkles, but it was beyond my control. As soon as a customer bought one of the sprinkles off the shelf, I would run to the back to grab another to make my sprinkle-lined shelves even.

S'mores Cupcake S'mores Cupcake

Looking back, I think I was looking for validation. Validation in my decision to switch careers and validation to pursue baking. If I couldn't prove to my employer that I could bake, perhaps my devout attention to The Wall of Sprinkles would, in some small way, redeem me. It took a couple months of hard work before she allowed me to frost the cakes for her to decorate. It was the smallest of steps for me, but for her it was as large as the Grand Canyon. Though I set out to learn to bake, the true skill I came away with was patience. Honestly, I think it was more valuable in the end.

Well, that and I have an unusual fondness for sprinkles.

Note: I'll be vacationing in warm and tropical Hawaii this week so I'll be taking the week off from blogging to soak up the sun and get sand between my toes. Don't worry, I'll pack as many photographs and anecdotes as can fit in my suitcase on my return. Have a lovely week! I'll be certain to have a Mai Tai and think of you.

S'mores Cupcake

These S'more Cupcakes are delightful, irresistible, and impossible to ignore. The cupcakes have a crunchy graham cracker base, topped with a sweet chocolate cupcake, rich chocolate glaze, and toasted marshmallow meringue. I love the texture of these cupcakes—crunchy, light, soft, sticky, and gooey. It truly is a s'more in cupcake form. These are perfect for birthday parties, long summer nights, and when you want a special treat just for you.

Read More