hen it comes to foods that make us nostalgic, it’s
hard to compete with s’mores. These classic camp-
fire treats offer more than memories of an irresistible
overflowing bite of melted chocolate and marshmallow yummi-
ness. They also remind us of those carefree summer days that
ended with friends and family gathered around a campfire.
Today, chefs are translating that childhood memory into
grown-up versions of s’mores that are creative and innovative
takes on the traditional.
“S’mores is a classic that take you back to your childhood,”
says Olivia Guerra O’Neal, owner of Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop,
Austin, Texas. “I think anything that is so simple yet nostalgic is
not a trend, but a staple in dessert culture that’s here to stay.”
Robin Richardson, CPC, executive chef at The Bakery at
Sullivan University, Louisville, Ky., says, “I think of s’mores as
a tradition, not a trend. They conjure up memories of campfires,
swimming and end-of-summer campouts.”
Bettina Perry, executive pastry chef for Bagby Restaurant
Group, Baltimore, which includes Fleet Street Kitchen, created
The Campfire, an upscale s’more dessert. “I wanted to create a
nod to a classic chocolate dish everyone would like,” she says. “I
also had been wanting to use a new flexible ganache piece that
is in the shape of a circle. So, the circle represents people sitting
around a campfire. Then, in an abstract way, we add the other
She smokes white chocolate in a wood cold smoker and
makes it into a cream. “Smoke adheres to white chocolate really
well, and chocolate and smoke is a lovely combination,” Perry
says. “It’s powerful, so I mix the smoked chocolate cream 50-50
with nonsmoked chocolate cream, because I don’t want it to be
To plate, she places the 70% dark chocolate ganache circle in
the center of the plate, then adds a couple of dabs of marsh-
mallow and the smoked white chocolate cream, and a quenelle
of housemade chocolate ice cream. Finely ground housemade
graham cracker crumbs and chocolate powder are placed around
the circle, and fleur de sel is dusted over. She also creates flames
out of shredded phyllo dough, which is baked off and placed ver-
tically in the chocolate.
“It’s a beautiful contrast of structured with unstructured,”
says Perry. “I wanted to create a lot of different textures. There’s
the creamy ganache and the marshmallows, then, the graham
crackers add crunch. It is finished off with the fiery flames,
which adds another crunchy texture to the dish. Everything is
based around the circle, which is like people sitting around a fire.
It evokes all these images.”
tarts and bars
Grace Donaghy, pastry chef at Little Market Brasserie,
Chicago, created a s’more tart when she decided to take a classic
from childhood and put a new spin on it. It has a housemade
graham cracker crust and dark chocolate ganache filling, and is
topped with torched vanilla bean meringue. The ganache is 70%
dark chocolate, heavy cream, eggs, salt and vanilla. A salted
caramel sauce is painted on the plate to break up the sweetness
and richness of the chocolate, says Donaghy.
opposite: This s’more cupcake—topped with a large marshmallow torched golden-brown and drizzled with milk chocolate ganache—is a favorite treat at The Bakery
at Sullivan university.
above: at Fleet Street Kitchen, The Campfire is an elegant s’more dessert that
includes smoked white chocolate, dark chocolate ganache, marshmallow and
housemade chocolate ice cream.