Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Molly's S'mores Hot Chocolate

A wintery spin on a summer time favorite!

Well, we got hit with even more snow last night, and enough ice that the governor is apparently advising everyone to stay off the roads. I really hope it clears up by tomorrow, because my car doesn't have four wheel drive and can be kind of hard to handle as soon as there's any snow or ice on the road!

Aside from it being a pain for travel plans and work schedules, I'm just really starting to hit that time of year where I'm really emotionally finished with winter. I miss being able to go outside with just a sweater or sweatshirt, instead of feeling like I'm getting ready for extended deep sea diving, and then actually wanting to stay outside once I get there, instead of just scurrying to the next building in hopes of finding shelter. Put all that together and you've got one blogger who has been looking for ways to feel like it's summer time, whether that means living vicariously through the people on Hawaii Life,  marathoning episodes of LOST or finding recipes

This is the latter, and it really hit the spot on a day where I was both cold and longing for a day where the sun is out for more than five minutes a day. It's definitely not a hassle to make, and semi-homemade variations make it even easier to manage if you're in the mood for something tasty with just the right combination of summer and winter.

I know Molly, I miss summer too.

Hot chocolate has been in existence in some form pretty much since humans discovered cocoa beans were edible. Archaeologists have found evidence that the Mayans of all social classes were enjoying an ancestor of the drink we know and love as early as 460 A.D., and Europeans were first introduced to the spicy and bitter drink when the Spanish invaded Mexico and toppled the Aztec monarchy. It was slow to gain popularity in Europe partially because of the taste, but mostly because it was very expensive to import and so it became a drink mostly enjoyed by the upper classes. Eventually, the recipe was adapted to be sweeter and it became more universally popular.

Chocolate was first introduced to the United States in 1755, and the first chocolate factory opened in New England ten years later. It became an alternative to tea while Patriot colonists protested the Tea Act of 1773, and is mentioned prominently during Happy Birthday, Felicity! If you visit Colonial Williamsburg, you can try the hot chocolate Felicity would have enjoyed, or you can just order some American Heritage Chocolate and make some for yourself! Cocoa powder was invented in 1828, which made chocolate much more affordable and easier to combine with milk and sugar, creating a more modern hot chocolate, and also a bar chocolate that is closer to what a modern audience is familiar with. In World War II, the US government recognized chocolate as being a significant morale booster for troops fighting overseas, and set aside valuable shipping space to make sure they could continue importing cocoa beans to include chocolate bars in ration packs.

What makes this recipe really special is that it turns hot chocolate into a liquid version of one of my favorite desserts.

S'mores! I know s'mores tend to be a treat you either love or hate, but I pretty unashamedly love them. Yes, they're messy and super sweet, but they're also delicious and pretty much perfect in every way.

Although no one is quite sure who really invented this treat and reports of their existence go back to at least 1925, the first recipe was published in a Girl Scouts publication in 1927. The word s'more wasn't officially added to the dictionary until 1974, but they were known as both "some mores" and "s'mores" well before then.

And they're amazing. I guess I should probably provide some fair warning that there will be other s'more themed recipes in the future. But for now, this is another recipe I've been sitting on for a while. It's from The Minimalist Baker and can be found here! It's a pretty simple recipe to make, but if you're really in a hurry, you can just skip a few of these steps and make some instant cocoa and dress it up once it's done.

The milk and water took a little white to heat up, but that gave me plenty of time to get the rim of the mug set up with the graham cracker. This was the only part of the recipe that gave me a little bit of trouble, and there were two reasons for it.

1. Finding an oven safe mug was more difficult than anticipated. Most of our mugs are either part of a set, souvenirs from various vacations, or extremely geeky, which means they either have some emotional significance, aren't being made anymore or just aren't really appropriate for a feature that's loosely about the 1940's. So because most of them didn't have whether or not they were oven safe on them, and we weren't willing to risk one of our Disney mugs or my Batman and Robin one, it took a bit of effort to find one we knew wasn't going to explode on us in the oven.

2. Getting the rims sticky enough to hold the graham cracker crumbs with just the marshmallows as glue was surprisingly difficult. I couldn't get an even coating, and it took about four marshmallows to get the rip even close to coated enough to get the same look that the original recipe had, and I think I'd like to find a more efficient way of doing it in the future.

Cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate syrup and a pinch of salt all go into the milk once it's warm enough. I'd actually never heard the trick about adding a little salt to hot chocolate before it was mentioned in an episode of Modern Family, and while I didn't taste it before the salt went in and thus can't really attest to salt's magical properties, this was definitely nice, rich hot chocolate.

All this gets whisked together, which takes much less time than the peppermint hot chocolate I made back in December. It definitely incorporated better overall too, and there was none of the chunkiness I complained about with the other recipe, which was nice.

Next comes a heaping amount of marshmallows. Seriously, make sure there's a nice good layer of them on there, because one layer isn't going to get as crispy and delicious in the oven. Don't be shy about it!

This goes into the oven on a baking sheet at a low broil, and the recipe says to just keep a close eye on it to make sure you don't burn anything. Unfortunately, my oven is designed so that I couldn't really get a good view of what was going on unless I opened the door even with the oven light on, and this very easily could have turned into a disaster had I hesitated a minute or so longer.

Instead, what came out was this beautiful sight.

Ta da, deliciousness indeed.

They puffed up a bit in the oven, and I was a little worried they might catch on the top of it, but fortunately everything escaped the oven unscathed.

Drizzle on some chocolate syrup, and you're ready to enjoy!

There was a part of me that was prepared to be disappointed, just because sometimes when a dessert promises to be a variation on another dessert, stuff can get lost in translation. For example, I have seen many s'mores themed cupcakes that are really just chocolate cakes with a few marshmallows stuffed onto chocolate frosting, and that's not a s'mores cupcake in my book. (But a chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow frosting and a graham cracker crumb base? That is a s'mores cupcake.) This very easily could have just been a normal hot chocolate with some graham crackers around the rim, and I didn't want to get my hops up that it would be something more if it wasn't.

As it turns out, I could have gotten my hopes up and everything would have been fine! I think what really made this a s'mores hot chocolate for me was the toasted marshmallows on top, so I definitely wouldn't recommend skipping that step for anything. They created this delicious layer of toasted goodness on top, and it was pretty much impossible to get at the chocolate without first getting some marshmallow. I still think the graham cracker on the rim could be perfected, but it was tasty and kept this definitively s'mores like. The chocolate itself was very good, although the whole thing was definitely a bit overwhelming after a while. It might be a good idea to keep a glass of water on hand to help cut the sweetness a bit, otherwise a large mug of it might be a little too much for one sitting.

This recipe isn't lying when it says it only makes two servings, which is sort of a good thing and bad thing in my book. Good, because sometimes it's really nice to have a recipe with such modest serving sizes when you only need to feed a few people. It's super overwhelming to realize that you're making a dish that's apparently supposed to feed 25 when you really only wanted enough to feed two or three people, but it can also be frustrating to realize you're going to have to double or even triple a recipe to make sure everyone can get a taste. Since this does require having access to oven safe mugs and can be a little tricky to get out of the oven without spilling or burning anything, I do think it's something I'd prefer making for a smaller crowd, but if you're planning on making it for more than two or three people, be prepared to adjust the recipe accordingly.

Overall, this was a really tasty treat that didn't take too much time or hassle to prepare, and it really brought up my spirits on a gloomy day full of freezing rain and way too much snow on the roads to consider going anywhere. If things keep up the way they've been going, it might be something I turn to a few more times before spring officially gets here.

And as tasty as it was, let's cross our fingers for spring to get here quickly!


  1. Oh you evil, evil woman! That looks amazing! Oh my gosh!

    1. I would apologize, but this was so tasty I can't bring myself to. B(

  2. I've added like a half dozen recipes to the "try" pile, thanks so much :P

    No seriously, this looks great! I love s'mores.

    1. You are more than welcome! My "to try" pile is pretty daunting and mostly full of desserts. I wish I could get this excited about doing something with spinach!