It’s all well and good to assemble an assortment of premium s’more ingredients: home-made graham crackers and marshmallows, perhaps some exotic chocolates. But how to put them all together, that’s the final critical step. Certainly there are more than a few folks out there who’d be just as happy to whip together an unheated chocolate and marshmallow sandwich and wolf it down as-is (fresh marshmallow and graham crackers are a pretty rare treat in and of themselves, why get greedy?). Others might be inclined toward the microwave.
Both methods are valid, yet they leave out what I think is the final, critical element of the s’more: the charred, crackling skin of the marshmallow that can only come from the application of flame. But in absence of a camp fire, what’s the best way to go about it? There’s the gas flame of the stove top, but I find it doesn’t have the heat output to char the mallow before it totally melts. My preference: the blowtorch. What, a blowtorch isn’t standard equipment in your kitchen? Shame on you. Julia Child would be horrified. What have you been using to caramelize your bananas? Kerosene and matches?
When it comes to a combination of utility and cost, few kitchen gadgets rival the blowtorch. Even the most expensive self-igniting torches (and believe me, you want one of those, don’t mess around with the separate tip-and-spark-lighter jobs, even though they do make you feel like an iron worker on the Empire State Building) are cheaper than your typical piece of plug-in counter candy. Just head to your local hardware store and pick out a model that suits you. A good knob-and-trigger igniter head will cost you about thirty bucks, a tank of propane about 3 (yes, they are disposable once they’re empty). Whatever you do, don’t buy one of these pansy things. They have nowhere near the output necessary to even crisp a crème brûlée. Nope, when it comes to buying a blowtorch, walk like a man.
Lit torch in hand, my s’more assembly strategy goes like this: graham cracker down, then half a Hershey bar (I’m old-fashioned), then a brief wave of the torch to soften the chocolate a bit and soak it slightly into the cracker. Next a 1/2 inch layer of marshmallow and the torch again, this time with no mercy (for guests I just brown them, for myself I light them afire and let them burn until they’re black). Lastly apply top layer of graham cracker. Eat.
Oh, and if you don’t feel comforatble with an assembled-and-ready blowtorch in your house (I don’t, I have a toddler). Just unscrew the head from the tank after you’re done using it (ignoring the shoop of a little escaping gas) and store the two pieces in separate places. I put the head in one of my kitchen draws and the tank on a shelf in the pantry, well away from the stove, of course.