S’Mores Candy Bars


*You can now purchase my candy bars and marshmallows at http://www.bonbonbar.com/
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S’Mores Candy Bar: Marshmallow, Dark Chocolate Ganache, Graham Cracker.

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Mocha S’Mores Candy Bar: Marshmallow, Dark Chocolate Ganache, Espresso Shortbread

EDIT: Clicker here. This bar has been revamped, and is now much better.

I’ve been playing around with these bars for some time, and I still want to tweak them a little more — mostly for texture. Ideally, I want them to be like just-toasted s’mores, with a melty soft marshmallow, somewhat firm but yielding chocolate, and a crisp cookie. Crispness has been achieved, especially with the help of the couverture, but I want the marshmallow to be a little softer and the ganache to be a little firmer. They’re fine and tasty as is — the flavor combination of S’Mores is one of my favorite — but as always, I want it all.

Here’s how they have developed so far…

My first thought for a S’Mores Candy Bar involved a marshmallow layer, a graham cracker layer, and a ganache infused with Lapsang Souchong Tea. I thought that the smoky flavor imparted by the tea would be a clever way to simulate a campfire smokiness. I infused the cream for 5 minutes for the ganache, and it turned out with a somewhat off-putting smokiness. It wasn’t vegetal from over-steeping, but vaguely sick-making nonetheless, so I didn’t even want to try for a weaker infusion.

I decided to try making it with its traditional flavors unchanged, but after a failed attempt at a Coffee & Tea Candy Bar, I decided to try changing out the graham cracker for an espresso shortbread. The Coffee & Tea Candy Bar was a riff on my Coffee & Tea Emotion that I liked so much. It had an English Breakfast Ganache and Espresso Shortbread enrobed in Dark Chocolate. I even thought about gluing caramelized Marcona almonds on top for the full effect. But the English Bfst tea flavor didn’t really emerge through the strong coffee flavor. It was fine as a coffee bar, but not great enough to want to make again. I may be able to get the flavors to balance if I worked at it, but I think that the combination worked better in the Emotion, where their individual characteristics had space to be themselves and mix with other flavors at will; candy bars are just more compact.

As a Twix enthusiast, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cookies in the candy bars that I want to make. First of all, I don’t want the cookies to go bad, since they generally have a short shelf life, especially compared to ganaches and confections. This could be helped by coating the cookie thinly in chocolate (perhaps w/ added cocoa butter) before putting it in the bar, to protect it from moisture and air (the cookie in the Twix bar has this thin layer).

Or, as I do here, I could make the candy bars “on a raft”-style. This way, the ganache and marshmallow components could be made in advance, and the cookies baked fresh and attached as needed, using melted chocolate as glue. They should then be eaten as soon as possible, like most pastries. I used a little untempered chocolate this time as glue, but next time I want to use more tempered chocolate for a stronger bond.

Spoilage issues aside, the cookie also needs to be crisp. If it’s too crumbly, it mixes poorly with the ganache in your mouth, and makes the ganache feel broken.

So, I’m in pursuit of that holy grail of candy bar cookie recipes — the Twix cookie recipe. Or something like it, because based on the ingredients written on the Twix package, the cookie is probably made of sugar, enriched wheat flour, hydrogenated palm kernel oil and/or palm oil, salt, and baking soda; possibly skim milk and/or dextrose, too. I want to use butter in my cookies, not oil or shortening, and since I only want a minimum 2 week shelf like, I think I can get it to work. I’ve tried the animal cracker recipe in Nancy Silverton’s Desserts book and various shortbread recipes, but I’m still working on it.

Anyway, back to the S’Mores Bars… To assemble them, I put a rectangular tart frame that I bought at Zabar’s onto a silpat on my counter, sprayed it with Canola spray so that the plastic wrap that I lined with would stick to it, and then sprayed the inside of the plastic wrap lightly, too.

Then I made my Marshmallow based on a recipe I found online. If I make half the recipe, it spreads nicely into the bottom half of the mold, using a small oiled tapered off-set spatula (good for getting into corners). I used this kind of recipe b/c it doesn’t contain egg whites, so it’s more stable and less prone to spoilage issues; it’s just water, sugar, gelatin, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla. I also used 2/3 the amount of vanilla b/c the vanilla flavor doesn’t need to be strong for this… and it’s less expensive that way. This recipe also seems to have less corn syrup than other recipes of its kind, which I also like; it bothers me to use corn syrup at all, in anything. When I first looked at the ingredients of Karo Corn Syrup, I was shocked to find High-Fructose Corn Syrup listed. I know I shouldn’t have been shocked, but I was… and bummed. I’m trying to use it as little as possible, and am looking for alternatives.

Next time, I’ll try using less gelatin to get it even softer. Other alternatives would be to increase the water mixed with the gelatin or the corn syrup, I would think.

As a side note, I’ve found that if you switch out 1/3 of the water and the vanilla for passion fruit puree, you get some mighty tasty Passion Fruit Marshmallows… perfect for holiday gifts. I’m just sayin’… ๐Ÿ™‚

As a more relevant side note, the Hershey’s S’Mores bar, the Milky Way bar, and the Snickers bar actually contain egg whites, according to the ingredient lists, but I’m happy w/ my version.

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache, I adapted the recipe for Varietal Chocolate Ganache in Michael Recchiuti & Fran Gage’s Chocolate Obsession. The first time I made it, I liked the thick but supple texture and proper proportion of butter (that is, not overwhelming, but an equal part of the team), but it seemed a little too sweet. So, this time, I used: 10.5 oz Cocao Barry Mi-Amere (58%), 4 oz cream, 2 oz invert sugar (nulomoline; purchased at a cake supply store in SF), and 4 Tbs butter (Cremerie Classique brand, purchased at Berkeley Bowl); I melted the chocolate and brought the cream and invert sugar to 115F before emulsifying w/ an immersion blender. This amount makes just a tad more than what fits in the frame. I used less invert sugar and butter (so that it wouldn’t overwhelm in the absence of the full amount of sugar) than in the original recipe, and it’s a little too soft.

Next time, I’ll try increasing the amount of chocolate, maybe by an ounce or so, or use just a little less invert sugar than originally.

I’m still experimenting with various sweeteners to use in confections, and as of now, I like invert sugar a lot, which is sucrose separated into glucose and fructose. I use nulomoline, which has a rather unfortunately ominous name, but it tastes the most like granulated sugar and seems to be pretty natural. Have you ever tasted corn syrup or glucose plain? To me, the former tasted like sweet chemicals and the latter like sweetly muted wax. But they each have molecular attributes best suited for various things, so it’s not like they can just be substituted for each other.

Because I work somewhat long hours, I made the marshmallow on Monday night, the ganache Tuesday night, and then on Wednesday, I unmolded the slab, coated the ganache w/ an offset spat, flipped the slab over, cut it up with a chef’s knife, and enrobed them with the ganache on the bottom b/c it’s heavier than the marshmallow; it tries to flip itself if the marshmallow is on the bottom. And I think that time frame is actually good for the marshmallow and ganache, because they each need time to set; gelatin takes a couple days to fully strengthen at room temp.

I made the doughs Monday night, and baked off the graham cracker Monday night (b/c I was using some of them to make something else) and baked off the espresso shortbread Wednesday night.

The Graham Cracker was based on this recipe, which I’ve made before. This is a good, flavorful take on graham crackers, with a desirable crispiness for candy bars. It’s a tad butter-y, though, so this time I used 1 tbs less butter. But since I used Cremerie Classique, which has 82% butterfat, I probably should have used maybe another tbs less. In a cake recipe, taking out a little butter doesn’t seem to influence the volume much, but here, where the butter contributes more to the body, I wound up with less dough, which was fine for my purposes this time, but if I’m going to cut the butter out more, I should adjust the recipe so that I can get more dough out of it.

The Espresso Shortbread was from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course. It was a little too crumbly and too strong on the espresso for me; I used Illy ground espresso. So, next time, I may try mixing the butter and sugar even less, and using maybe half the amount of espresso.

Couverture: Cocao Barry Mi-Amere 58%. Coating could have been a little thinner. Maybe if raised a degree more, to 91F. Milk chocolate would fork for this, too. I put a diagonal pattern on a couple of them w/ my dipper, and it looked nice. I’d like it if the pattern matched the S’More motif, though, so I want to think more about possible designs in the chocolate. Also, I made these fun-size, because dipping a full size candy bar seems like a pretty futile pursuit. A mechanical enrober is really needed for that.

18 Responses to “S’Mores Candy Bars”

  1. Garrett Says:

    OMFG yum!

  2. Gary Says:

    I know the day is coming when you won’t be doing a blog because you’ll be building your multibillion-dollar fortune by inventing and producing candy bars for the 21st century.

  3. Gary Says:

    At least let your faithful readers know about the IPO (to the extent allowed by law) so we can buy in cheap. Thanks.

  4. Gary Says:

    I would like to request a recipe along the lines of a Three Musketeers bar, but made with top-quality chocolate and nougat. Then a Mars bar. Then…

  5. Gary Says:

    Please trim the graham cracker crust base to conform with the upper part รขโ‚ฌโ€œ flush รขโ‚ฌโ€œ to integrate it completely. Or more difficult yet, get the crust on the bottom inside, sort of like a Kit Kat. Very important to my fine tactile sensibilities. (Picky picky picky.)

  6. Nina Says:

    Thanks, Garrett ๐Ÿ™‚

    Gary – Multi-billion dollar candy bar fortune? I’d be game for that. And I’d even find the time to blog — it would, after all, be a very cool thing to blog about… ๐Ÿ™‚

    And Chad has been after me, too, to have the cookie flush with the bar, or even better, in the bar. I like the overhang b/c it’s more like a traditional S’More and it evens up the proportion of the graham cracker, but I agree it looks awkward… I’ll play around with it a bit.

    And nougat happens to be next on my list…

  7. fattypr Says:

    looking good! i too was goign to complaing about the oversized graham cracker, but it seems i am too late ๐Ÿ™‚

    also, nice writing. i’ve been reading a lot lately, and I think the favorite sentence fragments i’ve read in a long time are: “it turned out with a somewhat off-putting smokiness. It wasnรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt vegetal from over-steeping, but vaguely sick-making nonetheless,”

    lovin’ it.

  8. Nina Says:

    Geez… There goes the on a raft option for my candy bars. I think it’s cutely s’more-like (and um, convenient for me to do), but Chad put it like this: “It’s like if someone built you a sink, and forgot to caulk it, and there were seams everywhere. You have to seal it.” I guess that about sums it up… So, into the bar for my cookies… probably… ๐Ÿ™‚

    And hahaha I love the use of the McDonald’s slogan… Though I, on the other hand, credit early 20th C British writer Evelyn Waugh for giving me the literary license for the phrase “sick-making.” ๐Ÿ™‚ ร‚ย  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evelyn-waughportrait.jpg

  9. JenR Says:

    Nina –
    I recently found your website and am enjoying digging thru the archives… Just wanted to let you know that I made marshmallows for the holidays and due to a bit of well… inattentiveness on my part, I used only 3/4 of the gelatin called for in my recipe. The marshmallows were a touch more sticky than usual, but held their shape while being very tender. It might be just what you want for the next evolution of your candy bar. Random thought – have you considered hitting the marshmallow tops with a torch and then letting them cool before dipping and assembly? It might give you that touch of smokiness…

  10. Nina Says:

    Thanks, Jen! I’m going to try out both suggestions next time I make the marshmallows. I’m curious to see how the torched marshmallow will hold up to the chocolate, dipping-wise, taste-wise, and spoilage-wise. That’s such a good suggestion that I hadn’t thought of… {slaps forehead}ร‚ย  Get the smoky flavor by actually toasting it… makes me grateful for the perks of blogging. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Helen Says:

    I have been readin your blog for a while now and I am truly enjoying your adventure in candy bar making. This is make my mouth water, my gums hurt and my eyes pop out! Well done!

  12. Tommy Says:

    Sweet Napa, you rock!

    My (previous) favorite food blog, The Pastry Pirate, met an unfortunate end due to the fact that the author’s instructors at the CIA (Hyde Park campus) were starting to get hip to it. The Pirate is irreplaceable, of course, as all the characters always are, but your bacon baklava madness is easing the pain a bit.

    Keep up the good work!

  13. shuna fish lydon Says:

    Nina! These look fabulous.
    But I am thinking about your marshmallow. You say you’re omitting egg whites because you don’t want it to be perishable. But you are putting cream and buuer into your ganache, right?

    You will get a more tender, more flavorful marshmallow with whites. (I was there when that SD recipe was created.) also temperature of hot sugar is as important as gelatin ration. do some playing with agave syrup and or honey to omit the corn syrup– just a thought.

    and I seem to remember being promised some experiments… let me know if I have to come to Napa because I will!

  14. Nina Says:

    Helen – Thank, Helen! Hopefully, one day, it’ll make your taste buds dance. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tommy – Thank you, Tommy! I blush. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The Pastry Pirate sounded awesome! I was hoping that Google’s caching would let me read at least some of her blog, but I could only find some bits on Quod She. Anyone whose culinary uniform makes her think of Mongol horsemen deserves to exercise her power of free speech to the fullest extent… I’m bummed…
    http://www.inblogs.net/quodshe/2006/06/all-hail-pastry-pirate.html

    Shuna – Ah well, different tastes — I’ve made a couple different egg white marshmallows in the past, but I didn’t like the texture or flavor as much… and they dried out sooner (my creamy, butter-y ganaches last longer, on the other hand). I like the egg-less version a lot, so I’m just going to stick with that kind. And of course, I’m using egg whites for my nougats, but that’s a different story since they have so much more sugar and keep well.

    And there will be samples… but I still need to develop more. And then I’ll be crazy for feedback.

    And thanks for the agave syrup tip!

  15. Gary Says:

    Frankly I think that the graham cracker as a base extending beyond the footprint of the bar above is a rather postmodern idea. And we’re now in the postpostmodern or metamodern period. ;*)

    (Metamodern? Yeah, I just made it up based on the fourth definition below. You heard it here first, folks… Ok, maybe the third definition is a better match.)

    From m-w.com:

    Main Entry: meta-
    Variant(s): or met-
    Function: prefix

    Etymology: New Latin & Medieval Latin, from Latin or Greek; Latin, from Greek, among, with, after, from meta among, with, after; akin to Old English mid, mith with, Old High German mit

    1 a : occurring later than or in succession to : after b : situated behind or beyond c : later or more highly organized or specialized form of

    2 : change : transformation

    3 [metaphysics] : more comprehensive : transcending — usually used with the name of a discipline to designate a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original one

    4 a : involving substitution at or characterized by two positions in the benzene ring that are separated by one carbon atom b : derived from by loss of water

  16. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » The S’More Bar - Revamping in Progress Says:

    […] Raft-style no more for the S’more Bar. Instead, I’ve decided to go for for another variation on the s’more look: square. I’m favoring a 2 inch square for this. Taste-wise, I didn’t want to stray too much from the traditional flavors found in s’mores for this version, but I also wanted it to actually have flavor — beyond sugar and chocolate. So, I amped up its vanilla and caramel notes. The ganache is infused with vanilla bean, and the caramel top echoes the toasted crust of campfire s’mores while deepening the overall flavor of the bar. I’ve always liked how the graham cracker rounds out the flavors and textures of s’mores, and it does so here, too. […]

  17. BakerWise Says:

    Nina,
    First congratulations to you, my wife just pointed you out to me,

    These look great but it looks like you ar looking for some ideas.
    1. Buy a good quality scale you’ll make a better consistancy product and European tradition points you to use scales not cups and TBS.

    2. Organic Tapioca syrup works great and has no off notes like agave, honey, or brown rice. It is available at Malt Products – http://www.maltproducts.com
    Your products are beautiful and I totally agree that well made gelatin marshmellow is far superior to egg white – but poorly made gelatin marshmellow is a white gummy bear – your’s are like velvet.
    3. If you want smokey campfire flavor look for South American vanilla and chocolate – they dry the cocoa bean over fire in the rain forests of South America – It would be a “cheaper” chocolate that the Coco Barry that you’re using but you can fine the specific flavor you want with most chocolate companies, including Barry.
    4. For your biscuit look at an old German Pfeffernuesse recipe and remove the spices it’s the right texture for a Twix.
    Keep your dream alive.

    BakerWise

  18. Nina Says:

    Bakerwise – Thank you so much for your ideas! I already have a good scale (and am quite the weight evangelist!), and I’ll try out your other tips. I considered trying out a recipe for pfeffernuesse before, but I think I was a little unsure about the egg factor in them. I’ll give them a shot now, though. The shortbread works well enough now, but is a bit troublesome — so much fat!ร‚ย  And if you can point me towards any resources about how organic tapioca syrup works, I’d appreciate it.ร‚ย  I can find some info about it online, but I can’t quite find info about how to substitute for it or how it reacts to heat/other ingredients.

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