Our cat is living in a tent on our deck. Luckily, she doesn’t have opposable thumbs so she hasn’t been building fires and making herself kitty s’mores which give her a sugar high that keeps her up all night giggling and telling feline ghost stories. But it does make me feel like we are perennially camping – and that got me to thinking. I do have opposable thumbs and even though I’m a fan of the old s’more standby of plain marshmallows, Hershey bar and graham cracker sandwich type thing – why not make an adult version? There are no parents here to tell me I’m going to ruin my dinner or rot my teeth. I want s’mores with coffee, fine chocolate and booze! And I got them. Holy shi-anghi, that’s a good s’more.
Okay, so clearly I had to learn how to make my own marshmallows. Then I had to figure out how to give them a coffee taste. Pretty soon, I was actually having to work at this. See, I’m not a coffee drinker. I love coffee flavored anything – except water. Unfortunately, coffee is coffee flavored water. So, I yelled, “Oh Mr. Jason!” He is my all time favorite coffee junkie. He pointed me to Coffee Geek where I learned how to use my press pot for… coffee of all things. He also suggested trying Medaglia D’oro instant espresso coffee.
In the name of scientific marshmallows, I tried both methods. (And it really wasn’t scientific, I’m just putting on airs.) For the brewed coffee version I brewed 4 cups of Columbian coffee, and then simmered it in a saucepan over really low heat until it reduced to 1 cup. Granted, even most hardcore coffee drinkers wouldn’t be thrilled with drinking that, however, once it’s blown out with a couple of cups of sugar the bitter flavor is a nice way to cut the pure sweet. They were a bit much for Marv though, as he’s not particularly fond of coffee at all. Then I tossed them in some cocoa powder which acted as a bridge between bitter and sweet and he was happy as a clam. But I didn’t like them as well because they lost some of the bitter edge.
On to the instant coffee. They were pretty damn perfect. I doubled the amount of instant coffee the directions asked for – it said one heaping teaspoon per 3oz of water, I used 4 heaping teaspoons for 3/4c of water. Completely undrinkable, certainly, but it definitely blew the coffee flavor into the whipped sugar and gelatin. If you don’t like that strong a coffee taste just use less.
Most of the recipes for marshmallows that I found were a bit compulsive on the release mechanism front. But I found it wasn’t really that necessary. In the end I went to prepping a small jelly roll pan with a silicon liner and then after the marshmallows sat overnight, then I dusted them with powder. (Otherwise the powder made a bit of a crust on the outside of the marshmallow.)
For the powder, I tried several different things; finely ground instant coffee, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. We found that we didn’t much care for the marshmallows to munch on coated in finely ground coffee powder – but they were excellent for the s’mores as the whole taste is diluted with chocolate and graham crackers. If you go that route, my suggestion would be to either cut the coffee with cocoa powder or powdered sugar in a 1:3 ratio or to use prep the pan with coffee around the edges and cocoa powder in the middle so that you get that flavor for the s’mores but not on the munching ones. (In the end I just gave up and used powdered sugar.)
For the chocolate, not just any chocolate would do. But I didn’t want to use really excellent chocolate either. I decided to mostly get dark chocolates made by major corporations because they’re sweeter and taste more like dark milk chocolates, which I think serves the s’more better. The one exception in the chocolates I tried would be Lake Champlain Jamaican Rum Carmel filled dark chocolate. It was really good. A bit over the top – but hey, that’s what the top is for.
The graham crackers are defiantly the weakest link – but after spending all this time trying to get the marshmallows down – I wasn’t up for working on them. Perhaps someone else could take up this baton and give me some suggestions?
3/4 c prepared coffee, cooled (see above)
3 packets unflavored gelatin
2 c sugar
2/3 c dark corn syrup
1 T vanilla
1 – 2 T booze (Kahlua, Rum, Brandy)
2T instant coffee (ground to dust), cocoa powder, powdered sugar or combo (see above)
Combine gelatin packets and 1/2 c of coffee in a mixing bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Add in a pinch of salt.
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan that doesn’t loose its heat very rapidly combine together the rest of the coffee, sugar and corn syrup. Cook over medium high heat until the mixture gets to about hard ball stage 250°f – 260°f.
With the mixer running on medium, pour in the sugar mixture slowly. I found that the whisk attachment worked really well to get a bunch of air in right off the bat, but that eventually I had to switch to the paddle to get it the rest of the way. Basically, you whip the crap out of the mixture, for about 10 minutes, until it’s all fluffy and a bit more than tripled in volume.
Transfer to the prepared pan. Let sit overnight then cut into squares and toss in coffee/cocoa/sugar powder so they won’t stick together.
Coffee Marshmallows (see above)
chocolate bar (see above)
Melt or cook marshmallows over flame of some sort or in the microwave for a few seconds. Make a sandwich with them, a graham cracker split into half and chocolate to match the size of the marshmallow.