Last week at a beach picnic, my friend Stephen (coffee aficionado, Big Green Egg aficonado, everything food aficionado) told me about a s'mores variation that I couldn't resist trying. He'd read about s'mores semifreddo online -- this one, I think -- abandoned it for being too complicated (home-made graham crackers and ice cream, who can blame him?), and struck out on his own with a pared down version using storebought ingredients and a little culinary improv. As Stephen described his method, I listened like a good blogger, taking careful mental notes.
This week, I got into the kitchen, but like a bad blogger, I forgot some of the details, like how to deal with the graham crackers and chocolate. I'll get to them later because the first step is so much fun. As Stephen told me, you spread Marshmallow Fluff in a thin layer on buttered parchment, then broil it. Magically, it toasts like a marshmallow in a campfire, but with an even higher toasted bits to soft marshmallow ratio. If you fold in this toasted layer to expose the untoasted parts, and broil it again, you double the ratio once more. Do it! The toasted Fluff gets folded into ice cream like a mix-in and that's your semifreddo base.
Now, for the graham crackers. I would not suggest pulverizing them in a food processor like I did (see photo above), which made them powdery -- and impotent! Just stick them in a plastic bag and smash them up with a rolling pin. Half the crumbs go in the base of a baking dish. You top this layer of crumbs with the semifreddo, then cover the semifreddo with the rest of the crumbs.
Merrill unwittingly provided the solution for the chocolate, because I mooched off of an excellent recipe she'll be posting next week. For her fantastic-but-I-can't-mention-it-by-name-yet dessert, she needed a chocolate coating akin to "Magic Shell" -- the stuff that soft-serve ice cream cones are dipped into that hardens instantly. And she discovered how to make it here on foodies.com. It's a simple ratio: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to 6 ounces chocolate. You melt them together, and that's it. I snagged some of Merrill's magic shell and drizzled it on the semifreddo so it would cool and harden in thin strips. You can splash it on in Jackson Pollock-like spatters if you like, or even just douse the whole thing in magic shell if that's your preferred s'mores proportions. Then serve it at a dinner party, and see who's first to guess its inspiration.
Adapted from Stephen Cornick
- Butter, for greasing parchment
- One 16-ounce container Marshmallow Fluff
- 6 graham crackers
- 2 pints good vanilla ice cream
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Heat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment and generously butter the parchment. Spoon the Fluff onto the parchment. Wet your hands and pat out the Fluff into a thin layer (see photos below) that nearly covers the baking sheet.
2. Place the Fluff under the broiler (about 6 inches from the flame) and toast all over. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Using a spatula, turn in the sides of the Fluff, folding it like a letter, to expose the un-toasted portions. Place under the broiler and toast all over, again. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
3. Put the graham crackers in a sturdy plastic bag, and using either a rolling pin or the base of a small saucepan, pound the crackers into coarse crumbs. Spread half of them in the base of an 8-inch baking dish.
4. Set out the ice cream for 10 minutes. Place it in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (if you don't have a mixer, you can mix it by hand and skip the gym this week). With the mixer on low, mash the ice cream to loosen it a bit. Add the toasted Fluff and mix until just blended but not broken down -- you want there to be chewy bits. Scrape into the baking dish and freeze.
5. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and oil in a double boiler, whisking until they're smooth.
6. To serve, spread the remaining graham cracker crumbs on top of the semifreddo. Drizzle the top with as much chocolate as you like! (You may also pass a pitcher of chocolate at the table, which your guests will appreciate.)