The allure of a childhood favorite is undeniable. Here two bakers from Georgia have captured the essence of one of life’s great pleasures—the S’more. While the treat may be best remembered as campfire cooking at is best, here’s a recipe that brings it indoors and perfect for a sentimental New Year’s treat, a reminder of summer fun no matter how cold it is outside.
Cheryl and Griffin Day opened their small bakery, Back in the Day, some 16 years ago. Their goal was to bring traditional southern baking to their small community, the Starland District of Savannah, Georgia. They’ve created ‘a place we gather to serve delicious food, drink strong coffee, visit with neighbors, friends and community’ according to the pair. While we’ve never had the pleasure, we are in awe of the couple’s output—Three best-selling cookbooks, a James Beard nomination for Outstanding Bakers as well as being named by both People Magazine and Zagat’s as the most popular restaurant in Georgia. In fact the bakery is so successful, this year the couple have cut back their store hours to just four days a week, Thursday through Sunday from 8am to 4 pm. If you find yourself in Savannah, make sure it’s on one of those days and make your way to Back in the Day which is located at 2403 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401, Tel 912 495 9292.
Traditionally, S’mores, a contraction of “Some More”, are a layer of chocolate and a marshmallow sandwiched between two Graham crackers. The first recipe for S’mores was found in a book published by the Campfire Smores company in the 1920s where it was called a “Graham Cracker Sandwich”. The book tells readers that the treat was already popular with both Boy and Girl Scouts with a recipe for “Some More” published in a 1927 book called “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts”. It wasn’t until eleven years later that “S’mores”, the contracted name, appeared in a recipe aimed at summer camps. By the 50s, even Betty Crocker was on the S’mores bandwagon publishing it in their 1957 cookbook.
S’mores are traditionally cooked over a campfire. A marshmallow, usually on a metal or wooden skewer is heated over the fire until it is golden brown. The marshmallow should be gooey but not burnt. However lots of S’more fans like theirs anywhere from barely warm to charred completely. The marshmallow then tops half a graham cracker and a piece of chocolate. Finally the other half of the graham cracker tops the whole S’more.
Cheryl and Griffin’s version consists or a salty, crunchy graham cracker crust topped with a rich chocolate ‘brownie’ filling and a fluffy, light, meringue that imitates the traditional marshmallow. It helps to have a blowtorch to get the required brown crust although you can achieve the same result with a very carefully engineered and timed run under the broiler per the recipe. You end up with a beautiful ‘cake’ which you cut into bars and serve. Here is the recipe:
S'mores Bars with Marshmallow Meringue from Cheryl and Griffith Day of Back in the Day Bakery, Savannah, GA
A crunchy, salty take on a campfire favorite...without the campfire but with all the tasty goodness of the original S'more
- For the Crust:
- 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (12 ounces)
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- For the Brownie Filling:
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- For the Meringue Filling:
- 3 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. Cream of tartar
- Step 1 Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhang on two sides. In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix all of the ingredients until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Let cool completely. Leave the oven on.
- Step 2 Make the filling. In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour until just incorporated. Spread the batter evenly over the cooled crust. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still slightly jiggly. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
- Step 3 Make the meringue. Preheat the broiler. In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with the sugar until the whites are warm and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Transfer the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until firm. Increase the speed to high and beat the meringue until stiff and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Step 4 Add the Meringue to the cake.Mound the meringue on top of the filling, swirling it decoratively. Broil the meringue 8 inches from the heat until lightly browned at the tips, about 1 minute. Cut into bars and serve.
- Step 5 The bars can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.