I RECENTLY HAD my first s’more in quite a while. The initial bite reduced me to an ecstatic puddle of nostalgia, but soon I was wishing for better chocolate, a more interesting marshmallow and a cookie with greater depth.
There are easy ways to riff. Lior Lev Sercarz, founder of spice purveyor La Boîte, offered a few ideas. “I would dust the marshmallow with spice before charring it,” he said. “I would also brush the cracker with melted butter and sprinkle smoked salt on it. And I’d dust smoked cinnamon on top of the chocolate.”
I chose to rebuild the s’more layer by layer, starting with homemade marshmallows (see recipe). Mine have a little orange zest and a shot of bourbon, good foils for the richness of dark chocolate, which I knew I wanted to use.
Indeed, if you’re only making a single swap in your s’mores, upgrade the chocolate. If the traditional milk chocolate is nonnegotiable, Valrhona’s Pure Origin Bar Bahibé will give you the right milky, nutty notes. If you’re going darker, go for Valrhona’s Bar Gourmet Manjari Orange. Made with grand-cru beans from Madagascar and accented with orange, it is bold enough to stand up to a sugary marshmallow.
In place of the graham cracker, I wanted a cookie with structure and spice. Marcus Samuelsson, chef-proprietor of the Red Rooster restaurants and others from New York to Oslo, shared a ginger cookie recipe. “It’s important the cookie isn’t just another layer of sweetness,” he said. “The kick of ginger will balance out the chocolate and marshmallow perfectly.”