Monday, August 20, 2012

Mini Post: Make s'mores cookies & Drink chamomile tea

Even if you don't make it out on a camping trip this year, you can still enjoy some delicious s'mores at home. This quick and easy no-bake cookie is sure to satisfy your desire for graham-crackery, marshmallowy, chocolatey goodness. And it might just make you the most popular person at work or in your own home.

And while you're at it, why not enjoy a cup of chamomile tea? I always bring chamomile tea with me while camping. It's a great way to stay warm after the sun goes down without the stimulating effects of caffeine. After all, who would want to stay up all night imagining every snapping twig as a bear coming for the marshmallow residue in the corners of your lips? But you're safe in your home right now, ready to enjoy the light herbal flavor of some chamomile as you expertly melt chocolate.

You can find chamomile teas at any supermarket and chances are you will have many types to choose from. I tend to enjoy those that are honey flavored, but the plain can be delightful too because it is naturally somewhat sweet. You should steep chamomile tea a little longer than black tea, about 10 minutes. Most herbal teas have a longer steeping time. For chamomile, I usually consider it ready when it is bright yellow (it helps to use a clear mug). Don't add milk, but feel free to add some honey, sugar or other favorite sweetener. You will find I'm a big fan of honey myself, especially darker, organic varieties.

Okay, now for the cookies. You will need: one jar of marshmallow cream (usually found in the baking aisle), a box of graham crackers, and 10 (yes ten) Hershey's milk chocolate bars. You could use other chocolate if you wish, but Hershey's is a s'mores classic and melts nicely. For equipment you will need a large and a small pot (or double boiler), parchment paper, a spatula or wooden spoon, a butter knife, a cookie sheet and optionally a silicone baking mat.

Break the Hershey's bars into chunks of three or four squares. It's faster and easier to melt chocolate that is in smaller chunks. Place chocolate in a double boiler. If you don't have an actual double boiler (I don't) then partially fill a large pot with hot water then place a slightly smaller pot inside it. Put this contraption on your stove top and turn the burner to high. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to simmer because a rolling boil may cause water to splash into your chocolate. The double boiler allows you to melt the chocolate evenly and slowly to avoid burning. I usually put the chocolate in the smaller pot at the same time I turn the burner on. Stir the chocolate with a wooden spoon or spatula as soon as it's melted enough to do so. Frequent stirring will help the chocolate melt more quickly and again avoid burning. Keep going until no lumps show up when the chocolate is stirred and it has a consistency almost like really thick hot chocolate. Remove from heat, pour out the big pot and set the smaller one aside. Unless it's very cold in your kitchen it should stay liquidy, but you can stir it occasionally to make sure.

Open the graham crackers and break into quarters as indicated by the baked in perforations. This can be tricky, depending on the brand. I discarded the crackers I broke unevenly (into my stomach) but you can feel free to make them into sandwiches if you are less of a perfectionist than I am. Next, open up your marshmallow cream and grab a butter knife. Spread about a teaspoon of the cream on a cracker then place another on top of it. Give the sandwich a little squeeze. I used the knife to smooth the cream that oozed out of the sides, but that's optional.

Now the fun dipping part! Grab a graham sandwich and dunk it halfway into the melted chocolate. Swirl it around a bit, then let it drip some excess chocolate back into the pot. I used my spoon to scrape some of the drippings off. Place the dipped cookies on either a silicone baking mat or layer of parchment or wax paper. The chocolate will pool around the cookies a bit. After all the cookies have been dunked, transfer them to a fresh piece of parchment paper, lining a cookie sheet. Pop them in the freezer to harden. I left mine in there until the next day when I brought them to work,  but they should be nice and solid after about half an hour and should stay that way when returned to room temperature.

Finally, enjoy your sticky little treats! I guarantee you will keep coming back for just one more. These are s'mores after all!