Thymetravelers is delighted to be back after a much needed summer break! Of course if you were in DC earlier this month, summer seemed to be in full swing. Sure, the grocery stores had started carrying their usual fall wares: bulk bags of candy for trick-or-treaters, totes of apples for pie-making, and pumpkin-spice everything under the sun. But it was 97 degrees outside! In September! So naturally I started to reminisce about one of my favorite summer treats, the s’more.
S’mores, the simple yet delicious childhood treat made of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, seem so obvious…what else would we ever eat around the campfire, or at a post-game tailgate (preferably if the Brewers or Packers were playing)?
The first official recipe for s’mores was published in 1927 by The Girl Scouts of America in their handbook, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. I’d like to point out that I was a proud girl scout in not one, but TWO troops during my youth. Like many dishes cooked around a fire, however, the s’more recipe was likely shared by word of mouth years before it was recorded for posterity. Indeed to look at the s’more’s history, we have to look at its ingredients and similar snacks of the time period.
While have already explored the history of chocolate and marshmallows, we have not yet discussed graham crackers. Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented graham flour in 1829. An avid vegetarian and health food advocate, he promoted coarsely ground whole wheat flour for its high fiber content. This flour, the main ingredient in the crackers, came to be named after Graham. One of Graham’s followers, Russell Thatcher Trall, became the first to manufacture the graham cracker in the 1850s.
Today’s sugary and processed graham crackers bear little resemblance to their predecessors, and their applications certainly are not healthy. Even before those girl scouts developed s’mores, graham crackers were already becoming a sweet treat instead of a nutritious biscuit. The Mallomar cookie was developed in 1913, and the moon pie soon followed in 1917. Both were strikingly similar to the s’more, which would be printed a decade later. In fact, it is completely conceivable that s’mores were around already as well—it’s just that there weren’t any food historians recording these important matters!
For further reading:
Smith, Andrew, “Crackers.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith, 173. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007.
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup marshmallow fluff
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 ¼ cup crushed graham cracker crumbs (I just use double ziplock bags and my fists)
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water for egg wash
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling
1) Make the dough: Cream the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Add flour, sugar, and salt in small increments, beating slowly. Place dough on floured surface and roll into a ball. Break into 4 smaller balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.
2) Melt the fluff: Place fluff in a microwave-safe container and heat for 15 seconds. You may need to repeat this step throughout the process if marshmallow gets too thick.
3) Roll the dough: Remove a ball from the fridge and place on well-floured surface. Roll into a circle, about 8-9 inches in diameter.
4) Pile on the layers: Spread a layer of marshmallow fluff across the dough . Top with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate chips. If you’d like, sprinkle with cinnamon as well.
5) Cut into 12 wedges using a pizza-cutter or sharp knife. Roll up the rugelach, starting with the wider side.
6) Brush the rugelach with egg whites and sprinkle cinnamon if desired.
7) Bake 15-20 minutes until rugelach is golden.
8) You should probably wait for them to cool, but who are we kidding? Just don’t burn yourself.