Vanilla Marshmallows And Honey Graham Crackers

I’m not sure which was swooned over more in the homemade s’mores lineup: the cinnamon-sugar-flecked graham crackers made with local honey or the bouncy, vanilla-spiked marshmallows. I served these nostalgic treats, cooked over an open fire in our backyard, at Jason’s birthday party earlier this month.

You’d never know it from the pictures, but when I first pulled the graham crackers out of the oven, they looked dark, too dark, and I feared they were overdone. I panicked at the thought of having to serve adorable yet slightly charred graham crackers.

I was overreacting, but truth be told, had they browned more than I liked I probably would not have mentioned it to our guests, as I subscribe to Julia Child’s philosophy on such matters. In her autobiography, she advises readers to never apologize for what they cook. Julia contends that despite your perceived shortcomings at the dinner table, the meal will likely be plenty enjoyed and appreciated by your guests. If not? Oh well, there are more important things to worry about in life.

In my kitchen, unless smoke is billowing out of the oven, there are few apologies. I think Julia is right: If we invest our time, our resources, our money, our energy into making food for others, we need to just relax, zip our lips and serve it.

I shared these thoughts with my dad last week during our trip to North Carolina and his response made me laugh: “Well,” he said, “I think some people SHOULD apologize for what they serve,” and then he shared a story about someone who served him and my mother barely-edible chili and rice, nothing else, every time she invited them over. That’s right, there is a woman out there, probably stirring a pot of mediocre soup, who clearly owes my dad an apology.

If we’re sharing regrets here, mine would be that I didn’t make more graham crackers and marshmallows for the party. They disappeared well before the festivities were over.

Once you experience the incomparable taste and melt-in-your-mouth texture of a homemade marshmallow, it’s hard to return to the mass-manufactured kind.

This particular marshmallow recipe is adapted from Miette, San Francisco’s much-beloved pastry shop. With its scalloped pages and beautifully photographed cakes, the Miette cookbook is one of the most gorgeous cookbooks I own.


The graham cracker recipe has made the cyber rounds of some of my favorite food bloggers, including the ever-reliable Lottie+Doof and Smitten Kitchen. These sweet crackers really are worth the extra effort of hand-rolling and cutting. 

Sandwiched together with a square of your favorite milk chocolate, s’mores don’t get any better than this.

Vanilla Marshmallows And Honey Graham Crackers

The original recipe calls for a vanilla bean, cut in half and scraped into the simmering sugar water. I’ve tried the recipe with the bean and without and don’t think it is absolutely necessary for a delicious, vanilla-y marshmallow. However, I did increase the vanilla extract to compensate for the lack of vanilla bean.

As for the graham crackers, I think Deb’s (Smitten Kitchen) idea to use a fluted pastry wheel to cut them is genius.

Ingredients:

For The Marshmallows:½ cup cornstarch
½ cup sifted powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder (1 ounce)
1/3 cup water, plus ½ cup
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt

For The Graham Crackers:
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 salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) 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
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Make The Marshmallows:

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and powdered sugar. Dust the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch pan with the cornstarch mixture, tap off the excess and set aside. Reserve the remaining cornstarch mixture.

Pour  1/3 cup water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water. Stir gently and set aside to soften.

In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and ½ cup water. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and over medium heat, cook the mixture to 246 degrees F.

While the sugar is heating, add the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. When the syrup reaches 230 degrees F, start to whisk the egg whites on low speed. When it reaches 246 degrees F, immediately remove the syrup from the heat and whisk the softened gelatin until the syrup until no lumps remain. If there’s some powdery gelatin residue, just scrape it into the syrup and whisk until smooth. Pour the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a heat-proof bowl.

With the mixer still on low speed, pour in a small amount of the syrup, away from the whisk so the hot syrup doesn’t splash. Continue adding the syrup in a thin stream, and then increase the speed to medium high. Continue to whisk until the meringue has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks have formed. It will look like marshmallow fluff at this point.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Lightly dust the top with some of the remaining cornstarch mixture. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow the marshmallows to set  at room temperature for 6 hours.

To remove the marshmallows, you can either 1) use a knife or pizza cutter to directly cut the marshmallows in the pan into  1 ½-inch squares, then remove piece by piece or 2) using a spatula, loosen up the large marshmallow rectangle and invert it onto a cutting board. If you find the marshmallows aren’t cutting smoothly, try lightly oiling your knife.

Toss each square in the cornstarch mixture, tap to remove excess, and store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Makes approximately 45  1½-inch marshmallow squares

Make the Graham Crackers:

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse several times, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla extract. Add honey-milk mixture 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 soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the topping, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Spread an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle so they are even along the edges. Cut the graham crackers with a fluted pastry wheel, knife, or pizza cutter into whatever size/shape you prefer. I did squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350° F.

Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough for additional crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a wooden skewer or something sharp, prick the dough to form two evenly-spaced dotted rows on each side of the marked line on the graham crackers.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

You can store them in an airtight container for a few weeks, but they will likely be gobbled up well before then.

 

Print Recipe

Vanilla Marshmallows adapted from Miette

Honey Graham Crackers adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery via Smitten Kitchen

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