To me, s'mores mean summer. You can never have a s'more in the winter because no one wants to sit outside in the snow, roasting marshmallows, but that's what makes them such a special treat in the summer. This tart, however, requires no fire (unless you have a brûlée torch) and can be made whenever! It definitely tastes like a s'more, just a little different.
I had a little beef with s'mores when I was a kid, I'll admit it. I thought milk chocolate was a bad choice. Sweet marshmallows, sweet cracker, and sweet chocolate. You need a break from all that sweetness! Dark chocolate is a much better substitution - it adds more flavour and contrast. A good 70-73% is best, I think. But that's just me.
That's why this tart has a lovely dark chocolate filling. And not just any filling. This might be the best damn tart filling ever created (thanks to Jamie Oliver). It's kind of like a custard, but is slightly thinner and silkier. It's hard to describe, but it is good. This is actually the second time it has been used - the first being in Jamie's original recipe, and my second recipe on the blog, the Silky Dark Chocolate Tart. This is the tart I make for special occasions, because it looks elegant and sleek, yet it easy enough to prepare ahead, tastes amazing, and feels great in your mouth. Yes, it feels great. The actual feeling of the filling is something special. I might sound weird, but if you make the filling, you will know what I mean.
Homemade marshmallows are also in here! I was never big on store-bought marshmallows, either. I thought they were made up of ground up hooves and antlers and spare parts. Technically, the gelatin is made from the bones of animals, so I wasn't wrong in some respects. In any case, I think homemade are better because you know what went in them. And they're not that bad! It's like a meringue mixture, but with gelatin in it. You can make them into different shapes than the usual squares or cylinders, have fun with it!
I happen to have a brûlée torch and was dying to use it, so that made it quite easy (and loads of fun) to roast each marshmallow individually. You can use the broil setting on your oven if you want, but keep a close eye on them.
On the first day, we had to fill in a sheet that asked us a few questions about why we were taking this course, what future plans we have, and if we have any experience. I briefly mentioned my blog, though I didn't use the name. And the next day in class, Chef Aron mentioned that he thought my blog was nice (thanks again Chef, if you're reading!). I couldn't believe that he bothered to find my blog and even tell me it was good! But now I know that a professional pastry chef might check up on my blog (and hopefully correct me if I make mistakes), there's a bit more pressure on me to make some great things. I hope I don't disappoint!
Here is some of the bread that my partner Aaron (not Chef) and I made. Everyone works in teams of two to make whatever we have to make for that day. Aaron and I alternated mixing, kneading, and shaping everything so he deserves just as much credit for these.
Graham Cracker Crust
Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma Baking Book
2 cups (186g) graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
80g unsalted butter, melted
Dark Chocolate Filling
Recipe from Cook With Jamie
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
12 1/2 oz. (354g) good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Recipe from David Lebovitz
2 packets (17g) powdered gelatin or 17g sheet gelatin (8 to 10 sheets)
1/2 cup (125 mL) + 1/3 cup (80 mL) cold water
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/3 cup (100g) light corn syrup
4 large egg whites (1/2 cup, 110g), at room temperature
pinch of salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup cornstarch
In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, mix the sugar and corn syrup with 1/3 cup (80ml) of water. Place over medium-to-high heat. (Note that you will use this saucepan twice, to make the syrup and melt the gelatin, eliminating the need to wash it between uses).
In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour in the egg whites and beat on low speed until frothy. Add the pinch of salt. When the syrup reaches about 210ºF (99ºC), increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat the whites until they are thick and fluffy. When the syrup reaches 245ºF (118ºC), slowly pour the hot syrup into the whites, pouring so that the syrup does not fall on the whisk since some of the syrup will splatter and stick to the sides of the bowl.
Scrape the gelatin and water into the pan that you used for the syrup, or put the gelatin sheets and 2 tablespoons of the water into the pan and swirl it to dissolve. (There should still be residual heat left in the pan from making the syrup in it to dissolve it). Pour the liquified gelatin slowly into the whites as they are whipping. Add the vanilla extract or paste and continue to whip for 5 minutes, until the mixture is feels completely cool when you touch the outside of the bowl.
Dust a baking sheet evenly and completely with a generous layer of the marshmallow mixture. (I use a sieve to do this.) Make sure there are absolutely no bare spots.
Use a spatula to spread the marshmallows in a layer on the pan or scoop them into individual mounds. It is up to you what size you wish to make them. I used heaping tablespoons to measure mine. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, uncovered.
Put about 1 cup (140g) of the marshmallow mixture into a large bowl. Dust the top of the marshmallows with some of the marshmallow mixture if you do not plan to brûlée or roast them. If you are planning to roast them, omit the dusting.
Use a pizza cutter or scissors (dusted as well with the marshmallow mixture) to cut the marshmallows into any size or shape pieces that you’d like and toss the marshmallows in the marshmallow mixture. Shake the marshmallows vigorously in a wire strainer to remove the excess powder.
Next, make the graham cracker crust. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-inch tart tin with non-stick spray.
In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter until everything is moistened evenly. Press the mixture into the tart tin, making sure to get an even layer throughout.
Bake for about 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and fragrant. Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.
For the filling, put the milk, cream, and sugar into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly bring it to a boil while stirring it every so often. When it has boiled, take it off the heat and whisk in the chocolate. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking vigourously.
Put the graham cracker crust in the oven and pull out the rack a little. Pour the chocolate filling into the tart and then carefully slide the oven rack back in. The filling always make much more than you need. I cover and refrigerate my filling and eat it like a custard. You can make another tart with it if you wish.
Bake the tart for 15 minutes. The center of the tart should wobble when you take it out. Let it cool completely.
Brûlée the marshmallows right before serving and serve the tart at room temperature.