Every Friday, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Mama. Just so you know. You have a chocolate mustache. And marshmallow on your butt.
Bella, please turn up the music and hand me my gin and tonic.
It’s day three of developing a s’mores ice cream recipe. I’m standing on the back porch table, camera dangling around my neck, listening to Prince, straddling a cutting board covered with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate shavings. I squat down and start talking to what looks like a burnt rug of mini marshmallows, trying to coax it off the greased parchment with come on baby, you can do it, come on, please. The sticky mass flies apart, a chunk of it swinging onto the lens of my camera, the rest sticking to my forearm.
This is the moment I realize that certain recipes should not be developed within my crazy head alone. I need help.
I go on to do eight batches in ten days. I have 20 tasters. I ask for dozens of opinions from friends to neighbors to parents to kids to the woman next to me in yoga class to the checker at Whole Foods. The message is loud and clear: don’t get all complicated with brown butter graham cracker crumbs or bittersweet chocolate shavings. Don’t place a lid of marshmallows on top of the ice cream that once frozen requires poultry shears for serving. In other words, don’t mess with this elemental childhood trio. Simply let the chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker flavors sing. Equally. And add chunks. Everyone wants lots and lots of chunks.
For the S'mores Chunks:
12 graham crackers (honey or plain, but not cinnamon)
2 cups mini marshmallows
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
For the Burnt Marshmallow Ice Cream Custard:
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Here’s the breakdown.
All of the sugar in the ice cream custard comes from the marshmallows. And the intensity of flavor comes from infusing the custard with burnt marshmallows. The custard on the left has no burnt marshmallow flavor at all. The one on the right is too intense and bitter. The batch in the middle is just right. I recommend blackening a few of the marshmallows beyond recognition and broiling the rest until they turn brown. You can regulate this fairly easily by spinning the pan around as they broil.
To begin the process, pour heavy cream over the broiled marshmallows and whisk over low heat until most of the marshmallows have dissolved. And then proceed as you normally would with a custard ice cream base by tempering the egg yolk/half and half mixture with the hot marshmallow cream.
The custard is done when you do the finger dragging test and a trail lingers on the back of your wooden spoon. Immediately chill over an ice water bath. The resulting custard has a lighter and silkier texture than your typical vanilla custard. Once cool, refrigerate overnight.
To make the s’mores crunch (make extra to bribe your kids and husband and keep it in the freezer), line up six graham crackers. Generously pile on the mini marshmallows. It’s okay if they spill over the edges a bit. Broil to desired color (don’t step away or you will start a fire!). Remove from the oven and top with graham crackers. If you wait more than a minute, the top graham crackers won’t stick. So move quickly.
Cover in melted bittersweet chocolate. Freeze.
Cut into bite-sized chunks (just so you know, the chunks pictured above would be considered more afterschool snack-sized chunks). It will fall apart and become a bit of a mess as you cut, but that works beautifully because you end up getting all kinds of textural and flavor variety in each bite of ice cream.
Don’t be alarmed. The cold marshmallow custard will be very thick. Churn it in your ice cream machine. Scoop it into a previously frozen receptacle. Fold in about two cups of the chopped chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow goodness. Freeze for a few hours or overnight. Eat!
Photos by Phyllis Grant