Classic winter food conjures up images of pots of robust, comforting stews bubbling away and an oven cranked up high.
Let’s pause here. Not to fly in the face of all that conventional comfort food, but what about s'mores? They’re rich, gooey, and warm. They've got the sexy factor of a melted molten chocolate cake, plus the added bonus of texture from a crunchy graham cracker. Sure, we've long considered them a summertime food, but that’s about to change.
A campfire does makes toasting marshmallows easier, but an open flame isn’t hard to come by in the winter. Is there a fire roaring in your fireplace? Are you cooking something on your stove? Great. You’re playing with fire. Let’s make s'mores.
Are you wondering why you would need guidance to slap together a s'more? Of course you can make a perfectly serviceable one on your own. S'mores are like pizza: Good regardless of quality. But you can elevate both with a little effort, and it's worth it.
When cooking something as simple as a three-ingredient s'more, it's crucial that you select excellent ingredients. We asked some experts -- the two sisters who run Ticket Chocolate in San Francisco -- to show us their ideal s'more. They sent us their kit, which uses high-quality chocolate, gourmet marshmallows, and thick, buttery shortbread cookies (get yours here). Elevating such a nostalgic dessert can easily miss the mark, so Ticket Chocolate wisely stuck to classic flavors.
Want to try your own? Here are some tips for putting together the best winter s'more:
1. Choose your chocolate carefully. Growing up, we loved those soft, waxy, milk chocolate Hershey's bars for s'mores. Ticket Chocolate uses couverture chocolate to mimic that taste -- couverture has a much higher amount of cocoa butter than most chocolate, giving it the same silkiness as milk chocolate without the cloying sweetness. If you want a slightly more adult taste, try a dark chocolate (70% or higher).
2. The cookies matter. A slightly sweet cookie like a graham cracker works well in a s'more, helping to balance out the sugar of the marshmallow and chocolate. Try your hand at baking your own with graham flour. Even homemade graham crackers will shatter easily when you take a bite, so we’ve been experimenting with sturdier cookies. Shortbread is our top contender: Not too sweet, exceptionally thick and sturdy, and buttery enough to up the ante on the entire dessert.
3. Make your own marshmallows. Whipping up homemade marshmallows is one of our favorite snow day projects. While not mandatory for a good s'more, homemade marshmallows are softer and stickier than storebought versions and therefore easier to mold into a layer.