Many wonderful memories are created around a campfire.
Camping with family or friends typically include one campfire staple: marshmallows, the sweet ingredient that makes any form of outdoor gathering, well, sweeter.
For many, the best use of marshmallows is as the gooey main ingredient of s’mores.
It is unclear who first created this treat, but the earliest s’more (some more) recipe can be found in Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, a 1927 handbook by Girl Scouts of the USA and some people speculate the organization coined the name. The traditional s’more is made with marshmallows, graham crackers, and a few pieces of chocolate. Tradition also says that these are consumed quickly, prompting further calls for S’MORE!
Tired of reading about it and ready to make your own? Here’s how.
Take a graham cracker, place a section of chocolate on it, and then carefully place a freshly roasted marshmallow on top of the candy bar. Top the marshmallow off with another graham cracker, carefully squeezing the campfire dessert sandwich together as the hot marshmallow melts the chocolate.
But as many campers know, there is more than one way to roast a marshmallow.
But first, let’s talk campfire safety.
NEVER start a campfire when there are fire restrictions in place or if the campground, area, or event rules prohibit campfires. The restrictions are put in place for your safety and for the safety of others.
If campfires are permitted, use an existing fire ring or pit. Be sure the campfire is at least 15 feet from tents and RV, trees and shrubs, and other flammable objects. Also beware of low-hanging branches overhead. Keep the fire small and under control. Never leave your campfire unattended.
Most importantly, ensure you work closely with children and talk to them about fire danger, proper behavior, and safety rules—then expect and enforce nothing less. Precaution is a key to great camping experiences. Some experts advocate a 10-foot rule between young children and a campfire.
Now, let’s get to the marshmallow basics. Use a roasting stick 30 inches in length or longer. The degree a marshmallow is roasted runs the gamut, from the barely cooked, light caramel-colored outer layer to the flaming marshmallow that contains a gooey interior wrapped by a crispy, blackened shell. From there, most people graduate to s’mores and rarely move on.
But there are some innovative ways to roast the little white treats that can help cut down on the amount of sugar intake by the kids, thus making bedtime a little more doable.
Think fruit. Even if the kids—including us older ones—insist on more traditional s’mores, there are some healthy tricks. Grill thin slices of pineapple and substitute chocolate for the sweet, warm fruit. You will still get a tasty treat but by substituting with fruit, it is healthier. If you want to cut down even more on calories, try using slices of angel food cake instead of graham crackers.
But know that you have other options. Use nutella instead of chocolate. Make peach, brie, and dark chocolate s’mores. Add cookie dough. Make a peanut butter and jelly bacon s’morrito (wrapped in a tortilla, obviously).
Use Keebler Fudge Stripes instead of graham crackers. Use chocolate chip cookies. Or peanut butter cookies. Make pretzel s’mores…and cover them in chocolate. Make s’mores with Ritz crackers. Use Oreos instead of Graham crackers.…and then add peanut butter. Or you could wrap your s’mores in a biscuit and add strawberries.
You can also get a little inventive and move away from s’mores. Grab a small bag of chocolate or peanut butter chips—or a combination of the two. Take a banana and slice one side open, exposing the fruit but leaving the peel intact. Slice the banana, add a few chocolate chips then top with tiny marshmallows. Or substitute the chips for berries from the local farmer’s market. Place the banana in aluminum foil and wrap tightly. Place the foil-wrapped fruit next to but not on the flames. Wait five to 10 minutes or enough time for the chips and marshmallows to melt. Open and enjoy with a spoon.
Another way to limit the amount of marshmallows used is to substitute them with marshmallow crème, a spreadable version of marshmallows that helps you more easily regulate portion. For healthier treats, use large strawberries, apple slices, banana chucks, pineapple, or other fruit. Put a piece of fruit on a roasting stick, dip quickly in the crème and roast over indirect heat until a delicious golden brown. You’re still having campfire fun, but the focus is on a healthier evening snack.
There are many ways to make the end of your camping day a memorable time with snacks. How does your marshmallow roast?
Life is a marshmallow, easy to chew but hard to swallow.