S’more pie. This graham cracker/chocolate/marshmallow concoction has been on my to-do list for a long, long time.
I mean, who didn’t love s’mores as a kid? How well I remember Girl Scout campouts, struggling to put up those heavy canvas tents. Dunking our dinner dishes in boiling water, using draw-string bags we’d sewn together from dish towels (ladies, do you remember those?)
Singing songs around the campfire. Make new friends, but keep the old… Giggling in our sleeping bags LONG after the leaders had dropped off.
Speaking of campfires, the high point of each overnight was indisputably s’mores: graham crackers sandwiched around a Hershey bar and toasted marshmallows. First we’d toast the marshmallows, squealing as they inevitably caught fire. Then, quickly, we’d stuff those charred marshmallows into our chocolate/graham cracker sandwich.
That first big bite – barely softened chocolate, crisp cracker, smoky, oozing marshmallow – was heavenly. As was the second. And third.
We’d try to sneak another serving, but were usually limited to just one – the adults back then being not nearly as indulgent with kids as we are now. And maybe (aside from their marvelous taste) that’s what helped make s’mores special: their very limited availability – one campout, one s’more.
But back to this pie. It should have been easy: graham cracker crust, chocolate filling, marshmallow topping.
And the crust WAS easy, as was the filling. But that marshmallow topping… oh, my. Suffice it to say I made it four times for three pies, and by the end I was ready to turn in my big-girl apron and go back to home ec. for a tuneup.
Don’t be discouraged, though; I finally hit on the right recipe. And, if you’re daunted by the prospect of homemade marshmallow, well, that’s what Fluff or marshmallow cream in a jar are for, right?
Attention, Girl Scouts of yore and everyone who’s ever enjoyed one of these campfire treats: want to make S’more Pie? Here’s how.
First comes the graham cracker crust. Do you have your own favorite recipe? Use it. Want to buy a pre-made crust? No prob.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Here’s the crust I used:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons melted butter
Combine the crumbs, sugar, and salt. Add enough melted butter to “dampen” the crumbs without making them at all wet, greasy looking, or sticky. I discovered (in the course of making my three pies) that graham crackers vary quite a bit by brand; the national brand I used required less butter than the store brand.
Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ pie pan.
Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, until it’s barely, BARELY beginning to brown in scattered spots along the edge. Remove the crust from the oven, and set it aside. Turn off the oven; you won’t need it anymore.
Here are the ingredients for the easy, no-cook filling:
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for enhanced chocolate flavor
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the chocolate chips, salt, sugar, and espresso powder in a blender or food processor and pulse until the chips are pretty much ground up; some larger chunks are OK.
Add the egg, and process to make a damp, sticky mass.
Heat the cream to just below a boil, with small bubbles forming around the edge of the saucepan (or microwave-safe bowl).
Turn on the blender or processor, and slowly add the cream, processing until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the container if necessary. Add the vanilla and pulse to blend.
Pour the filling into the crust; it’ll come about halfway to two-thirds up. Set the pie aside while you make the topping.
OWOOOOOOO – that marshmallow topping…
Here are the ingredients: gelatin, water, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla.
And here’s the process: dissolve gelatin in water. Boil water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Pour over dissolved gelatin. Whip until thick and fluffy.
Basic homemade marshmallows. So why was it so difficult?
Because I couldn’t quite nail the amount of gelatin.
I used 1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin in the first batch of topping. It whipped up like a dream: thick, creamy, a white cloud of marshmallow-y yumminess.
I spooned it onto the pie; put the pie in the fridge, waited for the marshmallow and filling to set.
Four hours later, I took the pie out of the fridge, and cut myself a piece.
Put the piece on a plate, picked up my fork, and cut a bite.
NOT. The topping, rubbery as a sponge, sprang back despite my fork’s most assertive efforts.
BOING. I mean, you could have bounced a nickel off the top of this pie.
Attempt #2. Reduce the gelatin to 1 teaspoon.
Ah, beautiful. Lovely, white, vanilla-scented… syrup.
The marshmallow never expanded in size. And when I applied it to the pie, it puddled rather than mounded.
Exceedingly underwhelming. To say nothing of sticky. VERY sticky.
But, here’s the silver (white) lining:
Attempt #2 made AWESOME tasting marshmallow cream, a.k.a. “creme,” a.k.a. Fluff. There’s a jar in my fridge right now, from which I take surreptitious little tastes regularly throughout the day. It also makes beautiful music with my morning cup of hot cocoa.
So, third time never fails, right? Let’s split the difference with that bothersome gelatin.
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cool water, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine the gelatin and 1/4 cup cool water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/4 cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240°F on a candy or digital thermometer. From the time the mixture comes to a boil, this will take about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Turn the mixer to high, and whip the mixture until it’s thickened and has turned bright white. It won’t form peaks, but will mound up when you lift up the whisk attachment or beaters, then slowly smooth out. This will take 3 to 10 minutes (depending on the mixer and attachment you use; a stand mixer using the whisk attachment will work more quickly than a hand mixer equipped with beaters).
Add the vanilla towards the end of the mixing time.
Scoop the marshmallow atop the chocolate, quickly spreading it out as evenly as possible over the surface of the pie. It should be soft enough that you can do this.
If desired, for that toasted marshmallow flavor, run the pie under a hot broiler to brown the surface; this should take less than 60 seconds, so watch it carefully.
Let the pie cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate it until it’s completely chilled, at least 3 hours; overnight is fine. Cover it with plastic wrap that doesn’t touch its surface; a plastic shower cap or bowl cover are good choices here.
The filling is stiffer than store-bought marshmallow cream, but soft enough to cut.
In the end, despite how long it took me to get there, this homemade marshmallow topping is truly delicious. The vanilla adds flavor that’s just not present in store-bought marshmallow cream.
Still, if you’re feeling uneasy about this whole process, don’t let that stop you from making the pie: there’s no shame in using store-bought Fluff or marshmallow cream for your first attempt.
Though I do recommend the homemade topping next time you make this pie…
…which I know will be very soon!
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