The message from Pastry Chef Marissa Sertich? Stop distorting the S’more.
By Marissa Sertich
As a pastry chef, I’ve developed very strong opinions about trifles, both literally and figuratively. I can go on tirades about my dislike for red velvet cake and the use of bacon with chocolate. I feel particularly strong about the subject of S’mores.
In case you come from Tatooine, a S’more is “a gooey-sweet dessert made by toasting a marshmallow over a fire (or gas burner, if need be), then sandwiching the hot marshmallow and a thin square of chocolate between two graham crackers and slightly squeezing this union together so that the marshmallow squishes out on the graham crackers.” This is a wonderfully descriptive definition from the Food Love’s Companion.
Don’t distort the S’more. It may seem absurd to stand on my soapbox for a graham cracker sandwich, but people should stop re-inventing an already impeccable thing. It’s like re-making Casablanca without Humphrey Bogart. It will never be as good as the original.
More importantly, don’t call something a S’more when it is not. Nothing irks me more than a misleading menu. Pastry chefs have a terrible habit of substituting meringue for marshmallow. Meringue is fluffy, whipped egg whites and marshmallow is an airy, whipped gelatin confection, and although both can be toasted, they are not interchangeable.
The real crux of the matter is not the ingredients, but the labeling. If you call something a “S’more,” there are expectations, campfire memories, and an acceptable use of Hershey’s chocolate. I, myself, create menu desserts inspired by the S’more – a liberal use marshmallows and graham crackers – but never does the word “S’more” appear. I, nor any other pastry chef, could make something so good, simple and joyful. Three ingredients in perfect harmony – chocolate, toasted marshmallow and graham cracker.
Perhaps it seems like a mere trifle, but this is my tiny world – dessert. Tuiles, improperly whipped cream, the mis-use of S’more terminology are my politics, sports, hobby and passion all rolled into one. The world of professional cooking is full of crazy opinions and even crazier people – we want to cook something delicious, interesting, and offer something s’more.
Marissa Sertich Velie is a New York based pastry chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She passionately documents her adventures of baking and eating her way through the fascinating (and sometimes nutty) underbelly of the American pie. Velie has a Master's degree in Food Studies from NYU.