Like many people, I feel equal parts of love and hate for Valentine’s Day. The commercialism and elevated expectations make the occasion feels disingenuous. On the other hand, I love an excuse to show my friends how much I appreciate them. It is a great feeling to know that you’re loved, romantic or otherwise!
This year I made an arbitrary decision to only send valentines to my girlfriends. These gals share my good times and bad times. They lifted me up when I was down. I have every reason to show them some love. I created a special treat just for them.
S’mores is such a been-there-done-that idea. Throwing graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate together and adding campfire is a recipe that sure to remind us of good times in the outdoors. Anyone can make a dessert with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate and call it s’mores but how many times are you disappointed that the key toasty smoky element is missing? I decided that my S’mores Valentine would not disappoint.
Obviously I made everything from scratch. I followed Alice Medrich’s graham cracker recipe on food52 and wondered why I did not do it sooner. The graham flour and oat flour contributed such a wholesome nutty flavour! Store bought graham crackers are only a pale imitation of what they could have been. I made a double batch and stamped out 2 1/2-inch squares using a cookie cutter. Of course I poked each cookie with tines of a fork for the signature look. I ended up with 46 crackers which seemed like a lot. But trust me, I wish I made more.
The next step was marshmallow. Homemade vanilla marshmallow would be a luxurious upgrade but I had an even better idea. I wanted to add a smoky flavour to the marshmallow without actually toasting because it would turn the texture rubbery. I turned to mesquite liquid smoke. This stuff is potent so use sparingly! A mere 1/2 teaspoon was enough to infuse a batch of marshmallow with strong smoky taste. I counterbalanced the mesquite smokiness with mellow malted milk powder, about two tablespoons. The fluffy marshmallows were huge success! They were so unusual and intriguing with the combination of mesquite smoke and malted milk. I would totally explore this combination further in future confectionary experiments.
I used the same cookie cutter as guideline to cut my marshmallow slab into fat little squares. Just assembling the graham cracker marshmallow sandwiches was already enough to make me smile ear to ear! I could totally set out a platter with squares of milk chocolate and host a fancy campfire s’mores party. But I wanted to make portable s’mores treat so tempering chocolate would be next. I chose to coat the sandwiches with milk chocolate instead of dark. S’mores is an unapologetic childhood treat. The sophistication of dark chocolate would be out of place. I got to use my new anova sous vide for the first time and set up a 99F waterbath to keep my tempered chocolate in temper. It took me no time at all to enrobe all 20 oversize s’more sandwiches.
And because I am a sucker for all things cute and corny, I could not help myself from reaching for the tweezers and pink crisp pearls. After all, it is Valentine’s Day and something heart-shape is expected, right? Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
If you are the celebrating type, there are more treats in the archive for the occasion! You can make Cocoa Peppermint Shortbread with Mint Pattie Heart if you can find York Peppermint Patties in seasonal heart shape. If tempering chocolate and making caramel get you excited, the Chocolate Hearts with Caramelized Rice Krispies & Dried Cherries is right up your alley. For beginning confectioners or Nutella enthusiasts, the brown and pink Nutella Buckeyes is easy and pretty. And I always love a good lamington. My Blood Orange Lamingtons look quite festive in pink and white polka dot cupcake liners. Blood Orange Ricotta Bar is another wonderful citrus treat for your loved ones too! And let’s not forget the special Dark Chocolate Gelee and Caramel Panna Cotta Verrine I created for a sophisticated Valentine’s Day dinner at sheknows!