Few fall activities are as enjoyable as sitting around a campfire on a cool evening and roasting up marshmallows, either to enjoy on their own or as part of that quintessential campfire dessert: the s’more.
This classic treat has been around for about a century, finding immediate favor with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops as early as the 1920s. Despite this venerable history, and though I’m a guy who generally respects tradition, I think it’s perfectly fine to toy with its long-standing formula in the modern age.
That begins with how the s’more is roasted: while campfire-generated flame is certainly ideal, if that’s not an option because you’re living under a burn ban or due to other circumstances, you can get perfectly suitable results in roasting your mallows over a grill, gas stove, or propane fire pit. You can also get indoor s’more makers powered by electricity or Sternos which are great for parties. You can even make them in the microwave or en masse on a baking sheet in the oven, though the results aren’t quite the same, and you miss out on attempting the masterful, delicate art of roasting your marshmallow to a perfect golden brown
A break from tradition is also entirely acceptable when it comes to the actual recipe of the s’more itself. A sandwich of two graham crackers, toasted marshmallow, and ½ chocolate bar is undeniably tasty, but certainly does not represent the limits to which the s’more horizon can extend. A few swaps and tweaks can actually elevate the classic treat to new heights.
Over the last few weeks, with help from various friends and family members, I’ve experimented with a number of these s’more “recipe” variations and upgrades. The fun part of the testing was doing it sort of buffet-style, laying out all the possible ingredients and allowing everyone to sample and rank their favorite combinations. Our findings were dutifully filed (with sticky fingers), and you’ll find our recommendations grouped into the four categories below.
1. Swap Out the Hershey’s for Other Chocolates
Chocolates with caramel, like Ghirardelli’s caramel-filled squares, make especially good substitutions for a Hershey’s bar.
The first and best upgrade for your s’mores is to use other candies besides a plain old Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar. The thick, rounded shape of other candy bars (like Snickers) makes them a little tougher to work with, so look for alternatives that still have a flatter, easy-to-sandwich architecture. Taking a stroll down the candy aisle of a drug or grocery store will give you plenty of ideas to experiment with; here are a few that work particularly well:
Reese’s Peanut Butter CupsGhirardelli’s filled chocolate squares (especially the ones with caramel)Rolos (sort of shove them into the marshmallow) Symphony almond and toffee bars
Pro tip: With any kind of chocolate, let the just-toasted marshmallow sit on top of it for 20-30 seconds in order to let its heat melt the candy a bit.