A standing ovation and a thousand kudos to the Girl Scouts. This group of energetic, creative youngsters created one of the universe’s greatest treats, s’mores.
It is difficult to imagine celebrating Halloween without this scrumptious cookie. Making s’mores at parties is now a traditional ritual among the young and the restless.
The treat is well-named since it is a contraction of “some more”….as in “I want some more.” And one taste of this sweet confection and one demands more and more and more.
The inventor of the graham cracker would not approve of such frivolous use of his contribution to the culinary world. Indeed, the Rev. Sylvester Graham conceived the cracker (which is really a cookie) as a health food. I blush to inform the Girl Scouts and others that graham crackers were part of a diet to suppress what he considered unhealthy carnal urges. In spite of these original intents, the graham cracker has emerged as a sweet cracker, used for pie crusts and of course, for s’mores.
I am pleased to report that s’mores contain all-American ingredients and treats created by such geniuses as Milton Hershey. In 1900 he began manufacturing the first chocolate that was inexpensive enough for the masses to afford. Purists maintain that s’mores must be made with pieces of Hershey chocolate bars combined with toasted marshmallows.
As for those sticky, unctuous marshmallows, they also enjoy a fascinating history. The modern marshmallow was created in France in the mid-19th century. The sap of the marshmallow shrub was bound by egg whites, corn syrup and water and whipped and molded into a light, fluffy confection. If you live near brackish marshes, you’ve seen marshmallow shrubs. They have pink hibiscus-like flowers. Modern marshmallows are made of sugar, corn syrup, starch and egg whites or gelatin. When roasting them, spray a little vegetable spray on the stick or fork and a bit on the marshmallow. It will be easy to remove and the marshmallow will remain intact.
Two graham crackers
Some chocolate pieces cut up fairly finely
1 large marshmallow
* If you are roasting marshmallows, roast them and place on a graham cracker and add bits of chocolate. Cover with second graham cracker.
* If you are not roasting the marshmallows on an open fire. Place the marshmallow and chocolate and place on a graham cracker, place under the broiler until they melt. Add the top graham cracker and wait for a demand for “S’MORE!”
Question: I lived in Tampa for several years and enjoyed the food in Ybor City. I especially liked the soufflé potatoes at the Cuban restaurants and would like to fix them at home. I hope you can provide a recipe. — Sammy Ledforth / Bonita Springs
Answer: Legend has it that soufflé potatoes came about when the chef in the kitchen of Henri IV heard that a group of dignitaries was en route to the palace for lunch. He tossed some sliced potatoes into a kettle of hot fat. When word came that the party was delayed, the chef quickly removed the partly-cooked potatoes and drained them. When the guests finally arrived he gave the potatoes a second frying and voilá…pommes soufflés.
So, to fix this dish, simply peel good, firm Idaho potatoes, sliced into the size fries you want, fry until half done in a relatively low temperature vegetable oil. Remove, drain well, set aside and brink the oil up to a very high temperature; put the potatoes back in the very hot oil and they will puff right up. Enjoy!
For comments and information regarding today’s column, contact Doris Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org