Thursday, July 1, 2010

Important Fourth of July Warning: Be Safe and Sane with S'mores

Attention foodies: Every summer, hundreds of foodies end up needlessly ruining s'mores by screwing up the ingredients. These poor saps are left with a disgusting excuse for a campfire treat and unhappy children. Don't let this happen to you!

S'mores are a simple treat; stop overthinking them with foodie ingredients. To help the struggling foodie, I have put together this very simple guide to s'more ingredients. The elements of your s'mores should be as follows:

1. Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar

Chocolate is the essential s'more ingredient, but it's also the main way that foodies screw up. I have seen far to many foodies, sitting around the campfire after finishing their pancetta-bison burgers with confit of caramelized onion, drag out some 78% Ecuadoran single origin bean-to-bar chocolate for the s'mores. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of high cacao chocolate and have reviewed many of them, but there is a time and a place for it. That time and place is not in your s'mores. Dark chocolate doesn't complement the pure, sticky sweetness of marshmallows and graham crackers. You want a milder flavor profile for that: the taste of old-fashioned Hershey's milk chocolate. You know, the kind you were perfectly happy with before around 1999. Plus, the richness and subtlety of high cacao bars is lost in the amalgam. Putting them on a s'more is like mixing great Bourbon with Coke; you lose the flavor. Plus, if you're s'moring with kids, artisan chocolates are (1) not kid friendly (who wants to see a kid with a sad face after eating chocolate, of all things?) and (2) filled with caffeine. Come on foodies, I know you have it in you, go to Von's or Rite Aid (you will find addresses for both on Google), walk up to that candy aisle and grab a Hershey bar.

2. Nabisco Honey Maid Graham Crackers

This is a similar issue. Most fancy schmancy graham crackers are too thick, too sweet and too full of weird flavors to make a good s'more (lavender-maple graham crackers do not belong on s'mores). The s'more is a sandwich. You want it on thin crackers that are just slightly sweet and easy to bite through. Do they taste like cardboard on their own? You bet! But the s'more is about the gestalt; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

3. Marshmallows

Okay, marshmallows are the one thing I will give on if the foodies are raising a ruckus. The traditional big-name marshmallows are pretty offensive and full of weird chemicals. Some of the craft marshmallows (as opposed to Kraft marshmallows) out there are pretty darn good and would probably taste good on a s'more, so I give you permission to use them, but no weird flavors (pictured above are the excellent vanilla marshmallows from BonBonBar). That being said, it won't necessarily be easy. The old Jet-Puffeds are the perfect size to slap on a stick and roast over the fire. Artisan marshmallows tend to be petite and a bit fragile. While the taste will work, the execution might not. I suggest doing a few trial runs and having a big bag of the old-standbys just in case.

So, please, have a safe and sane Fourth of July and don't ruin anyone's summer fun with your weird foodieness. Oh, and don't forget to shoot off lots of illegal fireworks! Happy Fourth!

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