I confessed something last week and it shocked everyone who heard it. It was this: I'd never made or tasted a s'more (as in "some more") until Kraft Foods sent over bags of a new product called Jet-Puffed StackerMallows.
They're rectangular-shaped marshmallows specifically designed to fit on a graham cracker, two of the three ingredients in a s'more (the other is chocolate, but sliced banana is an optional addition).
S'mores have been described as "traditional nighttime campfire treats," and the Kraft people have timed the release of StackerMallows with the summertime camping season. I consulted many parents on s'mores' popularity, and they all agreed that the right way to make them is, indeed, around a campfire.
However, time was short and the woods were wet, so we took the in-the-kitchen trail instead. Assisted by a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old, I made my first s'mores in a microwave oven and a second batch under the broiler in a conventional oven. They looked OK to me, and the two borrowed daughters of friends loved 'em. My conclusion: way too sweet.
But what do I know about s'mores? Nothing. So I turned to parents more experienced with the purity of the s'mores experience.
Bee food writer Niesha Lofing made s'mores with StackerMallows and reported: "My young children were enthralled with the idea of flat marshmallows...but the mooshy factor was missing.
"One problem we encountered while using the new mallows for s'mores was that they were more difficult to skewer for roasting. While clumsy children's hands usually can navigate sticking a bulbous marshmallow with a stick, these thin marshmallows definitely require an adult's careful touch.
"The new mallow plumped a bit upon hitting the flames and charred in the same lovely fashion a normal marshmallow does. The flatter shape was easier for squishing within the s'more sandwich, but absent was the abundance of gooey goodness a normal s'more marshmallow imparts. When I'm stocking up on s'more supplies for camping trips, I'm sticking with the classic."
Bee staff writer Carlos Alcala makes his open-face s'more in a toaster oven: "I use some good quality semisweet chocolate chips...but a thin bittersweet-chocolate bar would work, too.
"I put a layer of chips on a graham cracker and put it in a toaster oven at 275-300 degrees. When they get soft, I put on the marshmallows. Usually I like the tiny kind and put them on one by one. These (StackerMallows) are better. Obviously, they're made the right size to fit across the cracker.
"I fit (three) on a cracker. After I put them on the chocolate, I put (the s'more) back in the toaster oven on broil and cooked it until the marshmallows swelled, browned and then smoked. You could add another cracker on top, but I like the ratio with just one graham cracker.
"(The StackerMallows) would not (work) well on campfire s'mores, though, if you want to toast them on a hanger. You need the fat ones for that, I'd think."
If bags of StackerMallows ($1.69 for 8 ounces) aren't in your favorite supermarkets, club stores and/or mass merchandisers right now, they will be very soon. For recipes (appearing within a week): www.kraftrecipes.com.