What is a S’moreWitch? It’s Halloween magic. Homemade cocoa marshmallows on top of homemade graham crackers with a schmear of nutella.
This Halloween idea may not be as healthy as last week’s, but it is gorgeous and delicious and fun. The marshmallows are corn-syrup free, which along with the cocoa content, is a plus in my book. And the homemade graham crackers (adapted from Bakerella, who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery), are heavenly and nutty in a way packaged ones just can’t be. It’s Part Two of my Trick or Treat articles for GMA/abcnews.com. The article describes a fun “tradition” of having a “driveway party” on Halloween, complete with a fire pit for roasting these marshmallows, that let’s you connect with neighbors, keep an eye on the kids without following them around from house to house and have some Halloween fun. I’m following up with the article here because they didn’t have the space to provide the recipes and all the photos for making this treat from scratch. And in case your eyes are glazing over because it just seems like too much work, let me just say that you can make these S’moreWitches with store-bought marshmallows and graham crackers and they will be delicious and fun, too. But, if you make everything from scratch you will have the added advantage of feeling as though you deserve to eat many of them, without guilt, as a reward for all your labor.
The marshmallows were surprisingly easy and it made me think of all the wonderful things you could do with this fluffy cloud of confection. If you are a “fluffernutter” fan, this might be a good thing to make and have on hand instead of the corn-syrup laden version from the store. I used Lyles Golden Syrup, but brown rice syrup would work here too, if you can’t find that.
The graham crackers had a bit of a learning curve for me, since I am a spaz at baking and doing things in a meticulous, specific way. (I love to be all creative and intuitive with cooking and baking is more about following directions…so you understand how I might not be the best candidate for this kind of work.) The big thing I would change about the recipe is how you go about rolling out the dough. The original calls for rolling it out on a floured surface, but the dough is so soft and sticky that no matter how much flour I used it just “melded” with my granite countertop and I couldn’t get it up.
So, using a trick I learned in culinary school for rolling out delicate sable dough (high butter and sugar content makes a sable (pronouced SAH-BLAY) dough crumbly (thing shortbread) and hard to work with…so you roll it out between layers of plastic wrap or parchment. You still have to flour the plastic wrap or parchment to keep the dough from being sticky, but it’s a lot easier to then move the dough to your sheet pan, once you cut it. I used these square pastry cutters to cut out my crackers, but you can also use a knife to make rectangles, or a pastry wheel to make scallopped edges. I’m not good at making straight lines, so I used these.
And made these.
I baked them on SilPats (or you can lightly grease a sheet pan, or use a non-stick one), and got these:
That plate is part of a beautiful set of china my mother-in-law gave us. It was given to her when she got married close to 50 years ago and she told me to use them, that it was a shame to have such beautiful dishes stay stored away in quilted cases, only to see the light of day and feel the warmth of food on “special occassions”. Maybe it took my own brush with mortality in recent months to finally get these beauties out for nothing more than a graham cracker. What was I waiting for? The design is not Halloween-like in any way, but they are gorgeous and they make me happy. Happy Halloween!
Adapted from Stephanie Stiavetti, The Culinary Life
Yield: about 36 marshmallows
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin (just under four envelopes)
1/2 cup very cold water
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoon boiling water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown rice syrup or corn syrup
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1. Grease the inside of a 9″ x 9″ baking pan. In a bowl, mix powdered sugar and cocoa powder until well blended. Coat the inside of the greased baking pan with 1/2 cup of the sugar and cocoa, reserving the remaining amount for coating the finished chocolate marshmallows.
2. Pour the cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle gelatin onto the surface of the water. Hold.
3. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and boiling water. Mix until completely dissolved. Set aside.
4. In a heavy, high-sided pot, combine granulated sugar, Lyle’s Syrup, brown rice or corn syrup, warm water, and kosher salt. Heat over a low flame and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Turn heat up to medium and continue to cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. The sugar will bubble up, but if you’ve got it in a pot with high sides, it shouldn’t boil over. If it threatens to escape, remove the pot from the heat for a few seconds and stir the contents before returning to burner.
5. Once the sugar reaches 238 degrees, remove from heat. Immediately pour into gelatin and beat with a stand mixer using the whisk attachment until it becomes white, light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. You can use an electric hand beater, but it will take longer to fluff up, about 15-20 minutes. If you use a hand beater, be aware that the fluff will try to crawl up the beaters in its attempt to make a mess. Once done, the marshmallow fluff will have nearly tripled in bulk. Add vanilla and beat until well integrated into the fluff.
6. Gently fold the dissolved chocolate into the marshmallows using a spatula. Do not over mix — fold only five or six times. The marshmallows should have a swirled appearance.
7. Beat egg whites in a small bowl until they reach stiff peaks. Scoop the whites into the marshmallow fluff and beat just until combined so that you don’t flatten the whites. Again, do not over mix. Mix just until you can no longer see any egg whites.
8. Pour marshmallow fluff into the prepared pan and use a greased spatula to smooth out the top. Sift cocoa powder and powdered sugar mixture onto the top to completely cover the marshmallows, and leave to sit over night, uncovered, to stiffen up.
9. Once the marshmallows have firmed up, cut them into 1″ x 1″ squares (or any size you want!). Toss the individual marshmallows in a bowl of the remaining cocoa powder and powdered sugar so that they are completely coated, otherwise they will stick to everything they come in contact with.
10. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery
Yields 48 2-inch squares
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Topping (optional) 3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar 1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the flour, brown sugar, baking soda. (You can also use an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Pulse or mix on low to combine. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture has the look of a coarse meal.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
3. To roll out the dough: Divide the dough in half and return half to the refrigerator. Lay out a long-ish piece of plastic wrap or a large piece of parchment paper. Dust an even layer of flour onto the wrap/paper and place the dough on the flour. Place another piece of parchment/wrap over the dough, making sure there is enough wrap/paper for the dough to spread out on as you roll it out. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Roll the dough out into a rectangle or square shape that will yield the most crackers, about 1/8 of inch thick. Leaving the dough on the bottom sheet of plastic, transfer it to a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to cool for 15 minutes. In the meantime, repeat these instructions with the other half of the dough.
4. When the dough is cooled, work quickly cut crackers, either by making long cuts, creating 4 inch, by 4.5 inch rectangles (the size of “box” graham crackers, or as I did, you can cut the dough with a pastry cutter of any shape. I used a rectangle. Using a skewer, or chopstick poke holes into the surface of the crackers and if you like you can draw lines down the middle to mimic the traditional graham cracker look. (Being careful not to cut all the way through the dough when doing this. You really just want to “score” the dough.)
5. Move the cut crackers on to one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping (optional). Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.
6. Adjust the oven racks to the mid-upper and mid-lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake crackers for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Start checking them at 15 minutes. Baking time will vary from oven to oven.
TO ASSEMBLE S’MOREWITCHES:
1 Jar Nutella, or generic “chocolate hazelnut spread”
Graham Crackers (homemade or boxed)
Marshmallows (homemade or store-bought)
Spread one graham cracker with Nutella. Toast marshmallow to golden brown and immediately transfer to Nutella covered graham cracker. Top with another graham cracker and enjoy!
If you don’t have a fire going, these S’more witches are great just at room temperature since the Nutella does not have to be warmed to be melty and gooey, or indoors, you can microwave these ‘witches for 10 – 12 seconds and they will be warm AND gooey!