Grown-up S’mores

These sophisticated bite-size treats are a take on some of my favorite childhood flavors; they're a combination of S’mores and a Mounds bar. Cinnamon graham cracker cookies are topped with milk chocolate ganache, candied pecans, sweet coconut and finished with an ethereal almond scented toasted meringue.

I get the meringue evenly toasted by using a blowtorch. You can use one from the hardware store or get a smaller one sold at kitchen stores for making crème brulee. It is one of my favorite kitchen tools.

Grown-up S'mores

Makes: Twenty-four 1-inch S’mores

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Baking Time: 12 minutes

Level: multiple steps, but all of them are easy
For the Homemade Graham Cracker Cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon-sugar (1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon) for the top

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:
6 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
For the Candied Pecans:
30 pecan halves
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch salt
Almond Meringue:
1/2 cup egg whites (about 5 large)
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

To prepare the Graham crackers:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar, until the butter is light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the molasses and honey, mix for another minute. In a small bowl, combine the flours and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and mix on low speed until just combined. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes or overnight.

Once the dough is firm, roll it out on a well-floured surface until it is 1/16-inch thick. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 -inch round cookie cutter to cut out the circles. Place them on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes or just until golden.

Allow to cool completely. These cookies can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container.

Prepare the milk chocolate ganache:

In a small pot warm the cream over low heat, just until it starts to simmer around the edges. Add the chopped chocolate and swirl the pot to make sure the chocolate is submerged. Let sit for one minute and then gently stir until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and cool to room temperature. Can be made the day ahead.

Prepare the candied pecans:

In a small bowl, mix together the nuts, syrup and salt. Place the nuts on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or lightly greased. Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes, or until the nuts are nicely toasted and the syrup is slightly caramelized. Set aside and cool. Can be made the day ahead.

Once the ganache is set up, spread 1 teaspoon on 24 of the cookies.

Place about 1 teaspoon of the coconut on each chocolate covered cookie.

Using a small pastry bag or spoon, drop 1/4 teaspoon of the ganache over the coconut.

Press one of the candied pecans onto the ganache.

To prepare the meringue:

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites, sugar and salt. It will be very thick and grainy.

Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir it with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. Brush the sides down with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted.

Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth, put the bowl on the mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium high speed.

Whip until it is light, fluffy, glossy and the bowl feels just about room temperature. Once the eggs are whipped add the almond extract and whip for a few more seconds.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, pipe out a peak of the meringue. It should look like soft serve ice cream.

Use a blowtorch to toast the meringues. (If you want to do this under a broiler, you need to work quickly so the ganache won’t melt.) Serve immediately or refrigerate, uncovered for a few hours.

More Baking Recipes from Zoe:

Zoë François, author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day  and Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day , studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She now calls Minneapolis her home, where she has worked with some of the top talent in the culinary world — Steven Brown, Andrew Zimmern and many chefs at the D’Amico company. In addition to writing, Zoë teaches baking classes and consults at restaurants. You can find her writing and recipe creations on Devour, on her baking blog, zoebakes.com and on the site, www.breadin5.com.

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