It’s the time of year to gather around fire pits, under heat lamps, and in front of hearths. Whenever we find ourselves warming ourselves by those flickering flames, we inevitably start dreaming about s’mores. There’s just something about that undeniably awesome combination of crunchy graham crackers, gooey marshmallows, and partially melted squares of chocolate. But we’ve come a long way from the traditional triumvirate from Nabisco, Hershey’s, and Kraft. The ingredients have gone gourmet while the presentations are seriously reconsidered. Treat yourself to a dozen s’mores desserts – no fire required.
Havana Beach, Rosemary Beach, Florida
Just looking at this photo makes us salivate. Arriving in a mini swing-top bale jar, the Beachside S’mores feature flame-kissed vanilla marshmallows, spiced chocolate, and fluff. Housemade graham crackers are served on the side, so you can construct your own sweet sandwiches. Make a reservation at Havana Beach.
Bourbon Steak, Washington, D.C.
You know this s’more is super fancy schmancy because it arrives hidden under a smoke-filled cloche. The server pulls it away to release a hazy cloud, which clears to reveal marshmallow, toasted marshmallow ice cream, hazelnut graham streusel, and caramel and milk chocolate shards from Valrhona. Make sure you take a picture before you take a bite — this dessert is worthy of your Instagram feed. Make a reservation at Bourbon Steak.
Figs, Jackson, Wyoming
Finally, there’s a s’more in cocktail form. The Wyoming Campfire features a tasty triple threat – Bailey’s Irish Crème, Kahlua, and Wyoming Whiskey – as well as coffee, hot chocolate, and a blazed marshmallow. You can’t warm your hands over it, but it will definitely light a fire in your belly. Make a reservation at Figs.
MK, Chicago, Illinois
Taking its name from the film Sandlot, the “You’re Killin’ Me S’mores” are an elevated expression of the simplistic sweet. Pastry chef Lisa Bonjour artfully plates cubes and spheres of dark chocolate ganache, a quenelle of graham cracker ice cream, charred bubbly clouds of marshmallow, and a scattering of peanuts. Like they say in the movie, “Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” This s’more is definitely legendary. Make a reservation at MK.
Graze, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Chef Richard Miller modernizes the long-loved camping trip treat. A crumbly mound of Marcona almond graham cracker streusel is paired with a bar of rich chocolate ganache and plenty of brûléed marshmallow. Worthy of both your inner child and your adult self. Make a reservation at Graze.
Presidio Social Club, San Francisco
One thinks of s’mores as warm, sticky sweets, but this rendition offers a cooler perspective. Salted caramel ice cream is bookended by chocolate brownie cookies and speckled with singed squares of marshmallow and candied peanuts. Warning: a brain freeze may ensue if you devour it too quickly. Make a reservation at Presidio Social Club.
The Original, Portland, Oregon
Looking at this dessert makes us wonder why Twix has never made a s’more-flavored variation. Now that would be a glorious addition to the candy aisle, especially if they used these cut-above ingredients: homemade graham crackers, smoke chocolate ganache, vanilla accented marshmallow, and bourbon caramel sauce. Make a reservation at The Original.
Murray’s Cheese Bar, New York, New York
Trust Murray’s to figure out a way to incorporate fromage into a s’more. The Cheese Ch’more features an oatcake topped off with buttery Arzua Ulloa, chocolate fudge, bourbon marshmallows, and a few butterscotch zigzags. For anyone who is still wondering what to get us for Christmas, some bourbon marshmallows would make a perfect gift. Or, just bourbon works, too. Make a reservation at Murray’s Cheese Bar.
Two, Chicago, Illinois
At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be a s’more. But a single bite will reveal all the expected flavors taking unexpected form. There’s graham cracker ganache, crispy whipped honey to evoke the cracker’s crunch, burnt Italian meringue, dehydrated chocolate mousse cracker, and candied cocoa nib powder. Make a reservation at Two.
The Promontory, Chicago, Illinois
You won’t get your fingers sticky eating this s’more soufflé. Served in a glass and eaten with a spoon, this clever version features layers of fire-kissed marshmallow, smoked chocolate soufflé, graham cracker ice cream, and a smoked cocoa powder. Try not to make too much noise as you scrape up every last bit on the bottom. Make a reservation at The Promontory.
Americano Restaurant, San Francisco, California
Consider this a deconstructed-reconstructed s’more. The three classic ingredients are given a haute makeover by executive Chef Josua Perez, so you’ll find a square of torched and smoked almond marshmallow, a dollop of bittersweet chocolate cremeaux, and graham cracker crumbles on your plate. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also Luxardo cherries involved. Make a reservation at Americano Restaurant.
Sushi Roku, Scottsdale, Arizona
This DIY kit is perfect for lovebirds who want to cozy up on a chilly eve. Fire up one of the marshmallow halves, then roll the gooey log in crushed graham crackers and top it off with your choice of a green tea or chocolate truffle. Heck, treat your sweetie pie and pile both on. Make a reservation at Sushi Roku.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Clayton Hauck (The Promontory); St. Joe Club & Resorts (Havana Beach).