Homemade Graham Crackers (& S’mores w/ Homemade Marshmallows & Fair Trade Chocolate)

graham-crackersWe eat a weekly dinner with our interns, switching cooking partners up to give all four of us opportunities to plan and cook with each other. This week Hannah and I had dinner duty. We made Black Bean and Sweet Potato enchiladas, kale chips and a big green salad. For dessert we made the fixings for S’mores to be eaten around the fire in the gazebo after dinner. We started the marshmallows a couple days in advance since they need 12 hours to set up before you cut them into marshmallows.

slicing up the marshmallows before dipping the edges in powdered sugar

slicing up the marshmallows before dipping the edges in powdered sugar

Note: I do not like marshmallows. Or S’mores overly much for that matter. Marshmallows don’t taste like food to me, and the Mess to Taste ratio of  S’mores doesn’t come close to being even.

Homemade marshmallows, on the other hand, are amazingly delightful–even if they still don’t taste much like real food. I mean, seriously, how can something that consists of corn syrup, white sugar, powdered sugar and gelatin taste anything like real food??

But are actually quite fun to make, and these roast up great. I had The Best S’more that I’ve ever had. And discovered that eating one “open-faced” (with just a cracker on the bottom) made it much less of a mess to eat.

The recipe for the marshmallows is here. The process is not difficult, so long as you have a candy thermometer (I did not), or know that 240 degrees is the soft ball stage for candy making (I found this info online). Be prepared for stickiness, and apply powdered sugar liberally!marsh2

I made three batches of Graham Crackers before creating a recipe I liked enough to post. Hannah and I made this Very Healthy one, which was my second batch. Sylvester Graham, the creator of Graham crackers, would approve. It has no refined sugar (and just a splash of molasses and honey), and less than half the butter of my first batch. Not surprisingly, that means it’s about half as good. The first buttery, sugary batch was marvelous, an adaptation of this one at Epicurious. My minimal adaptation was to use 100% organic whole wheat flour, which is what Sylvester Graham intended. Graham flour is simply chemical free 100% ground whole wheat flour. Graham, a Reverend, was also a dietician of sorts, promoting vegetarian eating, open windows and cheerfulness at mealtimes. All still rather good ideas. Partly he was fighting against some new trends of his day to refine everything until nothing nutritious was left, and to add an assortment of chemicals to make things whiter, or “purer” or something-er. See here for a bit more about him.

The following recipe is my effort to create a 100% whole wheat Graham cracker that minimizes refined sugar, tastes amazing (being neither too sweet or buttery, nor too healthy tasting) and yet honors Graham’s initial intention–at least somewhat. Eating them around a fire where poetry is being read and recited (Mark can still recite nearly all of Casey at the Bat) would have made Graham smile. The marshmallows most certainly would not.

Lisa’s Graham* McMinn’s Graham Crackers

2 1/2 cup whole wheat flourgraham
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 c.  softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

2. In a larger bowl cream the butter, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

3. Add in the flour mixture and mix until blended (I used a wooden spoon).

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface (or a silpat) and roll into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Using a piece of parchment on top will help reduce the stickiness. You may want to roll it between two pieces of parchment paper if you don’t use a silpat.

5. Square up and trim the edges and cut into 3×4 rectangles or 3×3 squares (approximately). If the crackers are not on a silpat, transfer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

7. Using a toothpick or large fork, prick the dough to form dotted rows. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and cinnamon (optional). I did this in the Very Healthy version and like the way it looks a lot. The ones pictured were not sprinkled.

8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and slightly firm to the touch. Rotate halfway through to ensure even baking. Cool on wire racks completely before serving.

*As far as I know there is no relation between me and Sylvester.

For S’mores–put chocolate near fire to soften a bit, roast a marshmallow and stack! Using Fair Trade Dark Chocolate is best. Dark because it moderates the sugar–we used a Divine Chocolate Dark Bar (85%). As Jamie said it tasted, well, divine. Partly because we know eating it contributes to the flourishing of lives in the villages that harvest the cocoa.

Be prepared to go wash your fingers and face in the creek–or a nearby bucket of water!

photo by Hannah

photo by Hannah

Hannah's photo

photo by Hannah

Lisa's open-faced S'more with two squares of dark chocolate...

Lisa’s open-faced S’more with two squares of dark chocolate…

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