September 29, 2013

S'mores Tartlets

I'm not an outdoorsy person. I hate camping, I hate bugs, and I hate sleeping in tents. Yet I'm willing to go sit outside for a while for one reason: s'mores. They are the perfect combination of sweet, crunchy graham cracker, melty chocolate, and sticky, gooey marshmallow. As much as I love eating s'mores by a crackling fire on a cool fall night, however, they are even better inside. I've tried it before, but the microwave doesn't give the marshmallows a nice, toasty char, and the broiler makes a sticky mess. I had one other option: change the form of the s'more completely. I was faced with a whole new set of issues: marshmallows melted to a corn syrupy goo in the oven when I made s'mores cookies. S'mores ice cream gets rid of the gooeyness altogether. I decided to make s'mores tarts, which ended up solving all the issues.

I start with a graham cracker crust that couldn't be easier. Just melt some butter and toss it with some graham cracker crumbs and a few spoonfuls of sugar. Make sure to press the mixture into the tartlet pans quickly because it molds in better before the butter cools. Next is the chocolate layer; it's just melted chocolate with some cream. I only used a little bit of cream so that the ganache would be firm and hold the tartlets together. Adding more would make it liquidy and melty, more like a real s'more, but the tarts might not hold together quite as well. Nevertheless, if you keep the tarts in the pans to serve, you don't have to worry about that.

The whole thing is topped off with a generous heap of fluffy, pillowy marshmallows. They do require some special equipment, namely a candy thermometer and a stand mixer. You want the sugar syrup to reach a precise temperature to ensure the perfect texture, so it's worth spending a few dollars to get a thermometer. As for the stand mixer, the marshmallows have to be whipped for 10-15 minutes, and your arm will get tired. That's a guarantee. The mixture is so thick that a stand mixer is better suited anyway, and even a few minutes of mixing it by hand will convince you to go to a cooking store to buy one. Luckily, this recipe makes more than enough marshmallows. I had enough to put about half a cup on each tart and fill an 8x8" pan with the remainder. I cut that into shapes and tossed them in a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and potato starch to enjoy later.

But first I had to eat one of the tarts. If it's too cold or too wet to go outside for real s'mores (or you just don't want to go outside), these tarts are the perfect alternative. You can broil the tops of the marshmallows to get that delicious char, or you can use sprinkles and chocolate shards to make it more festive. Or you can do both. Why not? These tarts are so delicious you'll want to stay inside.

1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
2 Cups + 3 T Sugar
4 T Butter, Melted
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
2-6 T Cream
1 Cup Cold Water
3 .25oz Envelopes Unflavored Gelatin
2/3 Cup Corn Syrup
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vanilla

Heat oven to 350F and grease 8 4" tartlet pans.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and 3T sugar; add the butter. Quickly press into the prepared pans. Chill until cold and solid, then bake for 6 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Cool.

Heat the cream and chocolate together until melted and whisk until smooth. Pour into the cooled shells and chill until firm.

Pour half the water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Sprinkle in the gelatin and let stand for 15 minutes.

Combine the remaining sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining water in a heavy medium pot. Stir over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush as necessary. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, increase heat, and bring the syrup to a boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240F, about 8 minutes.

With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture. Gradually increase speed to high and beat until thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beta to blend, about another 30 seconds.

Quickly scoop the marshmallow onto the tartlets. A few drops of water work well to smooth the top if desired. Brulee with a kitchen torch or broiler if desired, or top with sprinkles and chocolate shards.

Makes 8
Marshmallow Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

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