S'mores Ice Cream

May 24, 2013

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.

Today: When it comes to dessert, practice makes perfect. And s'mores chunks make everyone happy. Phyllis from Dash and Bella crafts the perfect Memorial Day treat -- with step-by-step instructions.


Shop the Story

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.


More: Phyllis gets obsessive about gremolata, too -- with delicious results.

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.

So I listen. 

S'mores Ice Cream

Serves 4

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.


Finger Test

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.

Line Up

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!

Ice cream

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Phyllis Grant

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • ChezUs
  • Texas Sharon
    Texas Sharon
  • Barb168
  • katespreen
Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.


sexyLAMBCHOPx June 19, 2013
This is why I don't own an ice cream maker. It's all I would make and eat - oink!
ChezUs May 28, 2013
Amazing. I haven't made ice cream in so long .... now I must!
Phyllis G. June 19, 2013
let me know if you make it, denise!
Texas S. May 26, 2013
Looks great, but I'd so much like to know/see how finely you chopped the frozen s'mores. Thx.
Phyllis G. May 28, 2013
it's up to you. my daughter says the bigger the better. but i like them to be about 1 inch by 1 inch. they will fall apart quite a bit anyway. it even works well finely chopped. we tried it all!
Barb168 May 26, 2013
Oh my goodness, this sounds delicious!
katespreen May 26, 2013
You can make this dairy-free by using full fat coconut milk instead of the half and half and cream. The eggs combined with the coconut milk make a luscious custard. You can also use gluten-free graham crackers too.
Phyllis G. June 19, 2013
people keep telling me about using coconut milk. i must try it. thank you!
beetrixkiddo May 26, 2013
holy cow...mouth watering. Must remember I need to ear a bathing suit this summer... the child photo is ador!
Phyllis G. June 19, 2013
thank you. i think he's pretty darn cute myself.
fiveandspice May 25, 2013
Holy frozen dairy products! My heart just skipped a beat this looks so good.
cheesypennies May 24, 2013
Thank you (and the 20 other tasters) for all of your sacrifices on our behalf. We are not worthy, but we are beyond grateful!
Marian B. May 24, 2013
Right? That's true friendship right there: selflessly eating ice cream for others.
Phyllis G. June 19, 2013
my pleasure!
Food porn at it's finest. YUM.
cookinginvictoria May 24, 2013
This looks wonderful. Definitely going on my list of summer recipes to try!
janscott May 24, 2013
I've just added half and half to my shopping list to make this tomorrow!
Brette W. May 24, 2013
Oh. My. God. I need to get an ice cream maker and make this NOW
Shalini May 24, 2013
This looks incredible!!!
laurenlocally May 24, 2013
drbabs May 24, 2013
EmilyC May 24, 2013
LOVE this!
Kenzi W. May 24, 2013
Dear lord this is amazing.