Friday, July 10, 2015

Dulce de Leche S'Mores with Homemade Graham Crackers

Whether it's your first time or hundredth time eating a s'more, the reaction is always the same. You fall hopelessly in love with them and are immediately sent into a state of s'mores bliss. Quite possibly there is no other food out there having more euphoric qualities or one capable of bringing out such youthful exuberance. The utter joy of simultaneously experiencing the flavors of a crisp, sweet honey graham cracker; a toasted, slightly burnt marshmallow; and warm, melted semi-sweet chocolate puts you right smack in the middle of the road of supreme happiness. Traveling on this same road again and again never ever gets old.

Until recently I did not think the experience of eating a s'more could get any better. But homemade graham crackers, homemade marshmallows, a chocolate ganache and dulce de leche created a s'more so heavenly, so divine it should be put on the list of things being considered for eighth wonder of the world designation. Each of the components of the s'more was in of itself over the top delicious. When all combined and experienced in a single bite, it was intoxicating. They are definitely not for the faint of heart. These are messy, gooey, crunchy, the perfect sweetness, and oh so satisfying. 

I was under strict orders from my sister to not bring anything up to the lake. Asking me to not bring anything would be like asking a runner to stop running for a month, telling a five year old there is no such thing as Santa Claus or asking a meat lover to immediately become a vegan. In other words, I heard what she said, but the request was simply neither possible nor realistic. What harm would there possibly be in bringing some homemade graham crackers and homemade marshmallows? In my world, the answer to that question would be 'none'. And as the person who shall remain nameless sometimes says with a hit of snarkiness "It's Lynn's world and we are all just living in it.". 

When I came across Nancy Silverton's recipe for graham crackers I knew it was the 'one'. I had recently bought a jar of honey from Portland Oregon's Bee Local with the intention of using it for something 'special' (as opposed to just eating it out of the jar, yes it is that good, or serving with a cheese course, a most worthy use). With the graham cracker recipe calling for honey and dark brown sugar as two of its' ingredients, I thought there was no possible way they could be anything less that amazing. Spoiler alert: They were beyond amazing.

The recipe for the graham crackers gives you the choice of using only all-purpose flour or a combination of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. I choose to use the two flours. The dough for these crackers comes together very easily using a food processor. My initial plan was to refrigerate the dough for only two hours (as opposed to overnight), however, it happened to be 90 degrees the day I assembled the dough. The short refrigeration time made rolling the dough a little difficult. So I went to plan B and waited to roll out the dough until the next morning. In cooler temperatures, a shorter chill time would probably work, but on a hot, humid day (even with the air conditioner on), a longer chill time significantly improved the rolling and cutting experience.

After the dough is rolled out and cut it is chilled again, this time only 30-45 minutes.

Because I was making s'mores I decided to cut the dough into 2 inch squares instead of the traditional 4 x 4 1/2 inch rectangles. When I make these again (and I will) I might cut them into shapes using cookie cutters. Depending on the size of graham cracker, I may need to adjust the baking time.

The graham crackers can be made plain (no sugar coating) or sprinkled with either granulated sugar or a cinnamon sugar (granulated sugar mixed with cinnamon). I used granulated sugar this time.

Baking time for the graham crackers is 15-20 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. My graham crackers were a little on the thicker side, so my baking time was closer to 20 minutes. To test for doneness the graham crackers should be browned and lightly firm to the touch. They will crisp up even more when removed from the oven and cooled on a wire rack. To keep them crisp, store in a covered container or ziplock bag after they have cooled completely.

For the Homemade marshmallows, I used the recipe already posted to the blog. I absolutely love these marshmallows and this recipe.

Rather than using chocolate squares for the s'mores I thought I would make a chocolate ganache using semi-sweet chocolate, heavy cream, a pinch of espresso powder and a pinch of sea salt (I took liberties and inspiration from one of Ina Garten's ganache recipes).

I made the s'mores indoors and used my kitchen torch to toast the marshmallow. Not only does it work perfectly, but it makes s'more making a year round treat. I put a generous spoonful of some dulce de leche on the toasted marshmallow and finished by topping it all with another homemade graham cracker. It was mouthwatering just to look at. The graham crackers alone will get you invited back to any of your friend's lake houses or cottages. The Dulce de Leche S'mores with Homemade Graham crackers (and homemade marshmallows) might possibly get you your own key. 

Dulce de Leche S'Mores with Homemade Graham Crackers (graham cracher recipe from Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the LaBrea Bakery)

2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (375 grams) all-purpose flour (Note: Can swap out 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose flour)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
7 Tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey (recommend Bee Local Willamette Valley Honey)
5 Tablespoons whole milk
2 Tablespoons vanilla
Optional toppings before baking: 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar OR 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon mixed together

Homemade marshmallows or Store bought marshmallows
Dulce de Leche (recommend Fat Toad Caramel or recommend LaSalamandra Dulce de Leche)
Chocolate Ganache or squares of your favorite semi-sweet chocolate

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, baking soda and dark brown sugar. Pulse several times until blended.
2. Add frozen butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
3. In a small bowl, mix together honey, vanilla and milk. 
4. Add honey mixture to food processor, pulse until mixture comes together. Note: It will be soft and sticky.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly flowered piece of plastic wrap. Pat until a 1 inch thick rectangle is formed. Wrap dough tightly and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
7. Divide dough and half. Return one half to the refrigerator.
8. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into a long rectangle about an 1/8 inch thick. Note: Dough may be sticky, lightly flour as necessary.
9. Using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, knife or cookie cutters, trim dough to a 4 inch wide rectangle. Reserve scraps to reroll. 
10. Cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches (for traditional graham crackers) or cut into your size of choice.
11. Place crackers of prepared baking sheets. Chill until firm (approximately 30-45 minutes). 
12. Repeat with other half of dough.
13. Mark a vertical line down the center of the 4 1/2 inch cracker, being careful not to cut all the way through. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch from each side of the dividing line. Note: If making Sugared Grahams or Cinnamon Sugar Grahams, sprinkle with sugar and/or cinnamon sugar mixture before placing in the oven.
14. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half-way through the baking process until browned and lightly firm to the touch. 
15. Transfer graham crackers to cooling rack. Let cool completely before storing in a well-sealed container. Crackers will keep for approximately 1 week.
Note: Makes 10 4x4 1/2 inch squares or approximately 48 two inch squares.
16. To make ganache, melt 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso and 1/2 cup heavy cream on the top of a double boiler until chocolate has melted and mixture is shiny. Let cool for at least 3 minutes before transferring chocolate to a pastry bag or plastic squeeze bottle. Squeeze a layer of chocolate on the bottom side of a graham cracker.
17. Top chocolate with a marshmallow. Using a kitchen or propane torch, toast marshmallows.
18. Slightly warm caramel sauce or dulce de leche. Drizzle over top of the toasted marshmallow. 
19. Top with a graham cracker and enjoy!

Summer flowers.

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