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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: August 21, 2013

S’mores get an upgrade from Portland pastry chefs

Written by: Susan Axelrod


What is a Maine summer without a campfire — and what is a campfire without s’mores? The simple sweet sandwich that, as the story goes, started with the Girl Scouts in the 1920’s, has ended many a summer day on a high note. Getting that perfect char on the marshmallow and squishing it between the graham crackers to melt the chocolate … kid heaven.

Those of us well past summer camp age can relive those childhood memories thanks to Portland pastry chefs, who have turned to the s’more for inspiration. Their versions of the iconic treat tend to be considerably more complex, however. Hugo’s elaborate s’mores dessert is presented on a slab of wood and includes smoked chocolate ice cream, vanilla marshmallows, chocolate cookie crumbs and juniper tuile cookies. The graham cracker flavor is provided by toasted, powdered milk solids, made via a technique chef Mike Wiley says he stumbled upon by accident. (One of those chef-techy things that’s hard to explain but no matter, it tastes delicious!)

At Nosh Kitchen Bar, pastry chef Dan Lindberg sandwiches a handmade, bourbon-infused marshmallow between chewy, graham-cracker cookies and coats the whole thing in dark chocolate. At Caiola’s, pastry chef Hannah Mathewson tops a milk chocolate terrine with a burnt rum marshmallow and serves it with graham cracker ice cream. Alysia Zoidis of East End Cupcakes keeps it simple with a chocolate cupcake, topped with bruleed marshmallow meringue and a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs.

In honor of National S’more Day on August 10, we present these very grown-up interpretations. Plus an easy recipe if you want to celebrate the day at home. No campfire required.


Toasted vanilla marshmallows, smoked chocolate ice cream, crumbled chocolate cookie crumbs, juniper tuile cookies and spruce shoots. The white powder tastes like graham crackers but is actually brown-butter toasted milk solids. Photo: Ted Axelrod

Nosh Kitchen Bar

Bourbon-infused marshmallow in graham cracker crust, dipped in dark chocolate. Photo: Ted Axelrod


Milk chocolate terrine with burnt rum marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream. Photo: Ted Axelrod

East End Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcake with bruleed marshmallow meringue topping and graham cracker crumbs. Photo: Ted Axelrod

Photo: Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography

Chewy S’mores Bars

Makes: 12 large bars

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16-ounce container marshmallow creme
3 large Hershey bars (2.6 ounces each)
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Generously butter a 9 x 13 baking pan

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugars until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing until well combined (dough will be stiff).

Pat half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Spread the marshmallow creme in an even layer over the dough. Break the Hershey bars into sections and place in an even layer over the marshmallow cream. Sprinkle the mini marshmallows on top of the chocolate.

Pull off pieces of the remaining half of the dough and distribute it as evenly as possible over the filling, pressing the pieces down lightly to flatten them. It won’t completely cover the filling.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the dough.

Bake the bars for 40-45 minutes, until the top is puffed and golden brown.

Cool completely before cutting with a sharp knife.

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod blog.


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