There’s no better time to celebrate s’mores than in the heat of the summer. These homemade whole-grain graham crackers and spiced marshmallows take this classic dessert up a notch.
It’s that time of year again. The annual Grant vacation up North at “The Lake”. And with the vacation comes the s’more extravaganza. OK, we don’t have an extravaganza, but I’ve recently come to the realization that we should call it that. I mean, we have a Crappie tournament, potluck, cocktail party, birthday party, and at least 3 fish fries while we’re up there. I think we could manage a s’more extravaganza for Pete’s sake (we actually have a Pete up there too, HA!).
Over the past few years it’s become somewhat of a challenge to “one up” last year’s s’more. Gone are the days of the classic Hershey’s, mallow, and graham, replaced with lemon meringue pie s’mores, peanut butter cup s’mores, and grasshopper s’mores, just to name a few. And although the options are endless, I thought this was the year to make homemade graham crackers and marshmallows.
I love graham crackers, to me they’re darn close to perfection, so I decided not to mess with them too much. I kept the flavors simple using graham flour (which is completely whole-grain, did you know that?! I’ll jabber about that later for those who are interested), honey, and a pinch of cinnamon. They’re super easy to whip up and bake into crisp, golden crackers. I think I ate a whole batch of these alone in one week.
Since I stayed within the lines on the grahams, you can bet your ass I made a marshmallow that packed some punch. Sweetened with honey (plus regular sugar) and flavored with cardamom and orange, these marshmallows are delicious on their own, sans the cracker and chocolate.
If you’re an orange person like I am, then stick to the 1 teaspoon of zest. But if you’re a bit sensitive, like my taste tester Greg, then start off with a ½ teaspoon. Remember last time he taste tested for me? “Hmm basil-y,” well this time all I got was, “very orange-y”. I can’t decide if it’s the first thing he tastes, or the most abundant, I just appreciate the participation. Either way these marshmallows are delish and even better when toasted over a fire.
- ½ cup coconut sugar (2¼ ounces)
- 1½ cups graham flour (8 ounces)
- ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour (2¼ ounces)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Grind sugar in a spice grinder until fine, about 20 seconds; transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Sift together graham flour, pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (it may look like some of it won’t sift through, be patient and try to get as much through as you can. Then turn whatever is left out out into flour mixture).
- Add flour mixture to processor with sugar, add cinnamon and process 20 seconds. Add butter and process until mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Add honey, vanilla, and milk and process until dough comes together. Transfer to a bowl, loosely cover and let rest 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 300° with racks set to lower middle and upper middle position. Divide dough in half and form into 4x6-inch rectangles. Working with one rectangle at a time, roll between two pieces of parchment paper to ⅛-inch thick. Remove top sheet of parchment paper, trim dough into an even rectangle (save scraps), and cut into 2x2-inch squares. Prick each square a few times with a fork then transfer each dough-lined parchment paper to a baking sheet, chill 10 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake crackers until firm and golden brown, 30–32 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool crackers completely on baking sheets then break apart. Repeat with scraps.
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¾ cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
- ⅔ cup honey
- 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½-1 teaspoon packed minced fresh orange zest (depending on preference)
- Line a 9x13-inch baking dish lengthwise with a long 13-inch wide piece of aluminum foil. Arrange a second 9-inch wide piece of foil perpendicular across first sheet, to create a sling. Push foil into corners, flush against the pan; coat with nonstick spray.
- Whisk together ½ cup confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a bowl; set aside.
- Pour ½ cup water into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand until gelatin is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine remaining ¼ cup water and honey in medium saucepan. Carefully pour granulated sugar and salt into center of saucepan, avoid hitting sides of pan.
- Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat (without stirring or agitating the mixture), and cook, gently swirling saucepan, until sugar has dissolved completely and mixture registers 242F°, 6–7 minutes.
- Turn mixer speed to low and carefully pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture, try to avoid whisk and bowl.
- Gradually increase speed to high and whip until mixture is very thick and coats the whisk, 10–11 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.
- Add vanilla, cardamom, and zest and mix until incorporated, 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
- Quickly scrape mixture into prepared pan using greased rubber spatula then smooth top with a greased metal spatula.
- Sift 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar mixture over marshmallow. Cover with plastic and let sit overnight at room temperature until firm.
- Lightly dust a cutting board with 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar mixture and lightly coat a large knife with nonstick spray.
- Turn marshmallow out onto cutting board and remove foil. Sift 2 more tablespoons confectioners’ sugar mixture over marshmallow then cut into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 1-inch squares.
- Working with 4–5 marshmallows at a time, toss marshmallows in bowl with remaining confectioners’ sugar mixture to coat, then transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and shake to remove excess powder.
Total time is based off of the overnight rest time (8 hours) plus 35 minutes of hands-on time.
Science Corner: Graham Flour
I had no idea graham flour was whole wheat. Maybe I’m naive, but within my 4 years of culinary science education and the last two years of developing recipes for a magazine, I’ve never used graham flour or known it was whole-wheat. I feel like my world has been turned upside down.
Of all whole-wheat flours, graham flour is the most coarsely stone-ground of them all. Graham flour has larger, more flaky particles while other whole-wheat flours are stone-ground or steel-rolled into fine, powdery particles. Because of this, graham flour is better suited for cracker or crisp cookie recipes, while regular whole-wheat flour is better suited for pancakes and breads. The reason for this is largely in part to the ease of gluten development each flour offers.
Not to get all science-y, but if you’re interested, gluten development occurs in the endosperm of the flour, not in the germ or bran. The germ contains the protein of wheat while the sharp-edged bran contains the fiber. When a coarsely milled whole-wheat flour (containing all three parts of the grain) is used in a baked good that relies on gluten development (i.e. bread) the coarsely ground sharp-edged bran cuts through the gluten strands, destroying the structure. Hence why a more finely ground flour is better for breads and more coarsely ground flour works well for cookies and crackers.