Hello from Portugal! It’s our first time to this beautiful country and we are both totally smitten. I’ve been posting many stories every day on Instagram and I am considering saving them all to highlights at the end of the trip. Many people have asked about my husband’s plant-based diet and how he is managing. He introduced fish back into his diet several months ago and is doing well with that, better in fact than without any animal products. When we travel, he isn’t quite as strict about small amounts of dairy or egg in dishes. That gets to be too stressful and vacations should be about enjoyment and relaxation.
I have been holding onto this recipe for a year since I taught it in my online classes last July. It is one of the most fun and delicious desserts ever! What could be bad about a cake/bars that combine all the flavors and ingredients in the ultimate summer dessert, s’mores??
S’mores are a fun and easy summer dessert when the barbeque is still going or if you’re camping and have a fire set up. Truthfully, I am no fan of commercially prepared marshmallows though since they all have corn syrup which is a hard no in my book. Once a year, usually when I’m at my parents’ house on Long Island, do I let loose a little and set up a DIY s’mores bar for the kids. I usually include either roasted bananas or peaches for anyone that doesn’t feel the need for marshmallows. See this recipe here. If you’re really an everything-from-scratch cook, you can make graham crackers from this recipe as well.
This is a fabulous dessert for entertaining because it looks impressive, is a total crowd-pleaser, and you can make it the day before. I also love it because I can control all of the ingredients, which is especially key with the marshmallow topping which I make with gelatin and maple syrup. Obviously, gelatin is not vegan, but I have a few suggestions a few paragraphs down in case you want to make this without gelatin.
In fact, this recipe can serve as inspiration if you don’t want to follow it exactly. I start with a graham cracker crust, but you can buy one already made. Next, I make a homemade fudgy brownie layer. But you can do any thin chocolate layer you like including ganache, flourless chocolate cake or even chocolate pudding. It’s all about the three-ingredient flavors of graham, chocolate, and pillowy marshmallow.
Speaking of marshmallow, that’s the only tricky part of this recipe, but if you follow the instructions, it will come together perfectly. Again, like real marshmallows, this recipe uses gelatin which is not vegetarian. You cannot use collagen peptides here since it will not gel and stretch the way gelatin will.
Other options for the top include buying regular marshmallows (I’ve seen one vegan brand at Whole foods), arranging them on top and broiling them. Or you could do a meringue (egg whites) and torch or broil that. Lastly, you could do a vegan aquafaba meringue (chickpea liquid-based) and broil or torch that.
As far as gelatins go, I have learned recently that gelatin procured from not-grass-fed cows will almost always contain high amounts of lead and glyphosate. After doing a lot of research, I have settled on Vital Proteins beef gelatin which contains no glyphosate. By the way, if you’re put off by the fact that gelatin is made from the bones and other parts of cows, that’s what Jell-O is. Just saying.
My only regret with this batch of s’mores is that because I was shooting them for my website, I was so scared to burn the marshmallow topping, so I feel like I under-browned it. It can burn really fast, but I could have left it under the broiler another 20 seconds. Marshmallow is very sticky either raw or toasted, so you need to run a knife under hot water and wipe it dry each time before slicing through the marshmallow. You can cut it in advance of serving it. Let me know if you make this fun dessert for your next summer get-together. Tag me on Instagram @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman so I can see your creations!
Shop the tools for this recipe by clicking on the images below:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 14 crackers pulverized in a food processor)
- 6 Tablespoons unrefined virgin coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Pinch of sea salt
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter or unrefined virgin coconut oil (does infuse a hint of coconut)
- 4 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ¾ cup coconut palm sugar (or cane sugar)
- 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1½ Tablespoons GF oat flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional, but makes the filling more
- ½ cup water, divided
- ½ cup pure maple syrup, or ¼ cup maple syrup and ¼ cup rice syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ Tablespoons unflavored gelatin I use Vital Proteins beef gelatin, but if you use Knox gelatin, use 2½ envelopes) - do not use collagen peptides*
- ⅛ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 350° F
- Grease an 8x8 pan with unsalted butter or coconut oil. Line the baking pan with unbleached parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides. Set aside.
- Prepare graham cracker crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut oil, maple syrup
andsalt. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press down firmly, making an even layer. The more firmly you press the crust, the better it will hold together.
- Bake the crust for 5 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden.
- While crust is baking, place butter (or coconut oil) and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with simmering water and stir frequently until chocolate
ismelted. Remove bowl from heat.
- Transfer the chocolate mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment along with the coconut sugar and beat at medium speed until smooth.
- Beat in the eggs until smooth and stir in vanilla.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until just combined.
- Pour mixture over the graham cracker crust and bake for about 20 minutes until the top is dry and the filling is set, but not wet. Set aside to cool completely. (If you need to speed this up, stick it in the fridge.)
- Once the chocolate layer is cooled, prepare the marshmallow layer: Place ¼ cup water, maple syrup
andsalt in a very small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir for the first minutecooking.
- After 1 minute, continue cooking at a gentle simmer over medium-high heat without stirring until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F. This usually takes me about 11-12 minutes.
- While the syrup is cooking, place the gelatin in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Pour ¼ water on top and whisk together. Allow
to sitfor 10 minutes.
- Once the syrup mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat and carefully pour it over the gelatin and water mixture.
- Mix on high-speed for about 4-5 minutes or until it looks like marshmallow fluff.
- Add the vanilla extract and whisk for another minute until stiff, glossy peaks are formed.
- Immediately spread the marshmallow on top of the cooled chocolate layer. Work quickly so the marshmallow doesn’t start to set because it will be harder to spread. I prefer to let the cake set for an hour or more before torching and serving, but you can actually serve right away if you don’t mind a little gooeyness.
- When ready to serve, brown the marshmallow layer with a kitchen blowtorch or lighter or by placing the pan under a preheated broiler in the oven with the rack set 6-7 inches from the heat source for 5-10 SECONDS. Watch it closely.
- Run a knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan.
Pull onthe edges of the parchment to lift brownies out of pan. Transfer to a cutting board; cut into squares with a greased knife.