Indulge in all of this Goodness
I remember my sister and I sitting on the back porch tearing yesterday's newspaper into small ragged pieces and placing them into an empty can. Probably one of my grandmother's #Folgers cans, you know the red one with the plastic lid? We used those as vessels to fulfill our need for the melty gooey, chocolaty goodness that would soon tangle our fingers in a web of mallowy strands and #cocoa smear. If I had to choose a house that I missed, it was this house with the huge backyard where we often watched the deer drink from the pond and the trees overflow with black walnuts, pears and apples. We were young and naive and had no real appreciation for the seasonal jewels that rolled across the forest floor. I mean, we ate the occasional fruit and cracked a few nuts now and again but nothing too serious. I remember seeing our next-door neighbor gathering the nuts in the evening to crack for an evening snack.
If I had the passion for food I have now back then, I imagine that I would've encouraged the making of pies, tarts, jams and jellies, but those are merely the wishes of a time gone. And we all know that living in the past can prove to be a detriment to one's growth; no one wants that...do they? S'mores are the 'cream of the crop' when it comes to nostalgic childhood treats. The simplicity of those three ingredients combined has the capability to solve life's conundrums, sartorial - political or otherwise. There may be a little embellishment in there but work with me folks, we're talkin' #smores.
I know that with the arrival of #Pinterest and food bloggers appearing by the dozen every hour -- these once sacred treats are always getting a new makeover from pie-pops to #cake but I warn you, steer clear, it's a trap and you won't be happy. What I'm giving you today is an all year round invitation to the snack once cornered to Autumnal nights and snow-capped backdrops. We should be able to indulge in all of this goodness any time the mood awakes within us and be able to do so without checking the weather report. Lord knows, it won't be correct anyway. The time is winding down and as you know I am collaborating with the fine folks of the Asheville Wine & Food Festival to bring you some delicious food posts in anticipation for the event.
I can't begin to tell you how full my heart is full knowing that we are only a few weeks away from that Blue Ridge Mountains seduction. We found the perfect place to stay in walking distance to coffee shops and you know how I love the beans. We're plotting out all our favorite places to dine as if we won't be eating enough AVL goodness between the SWEET Event and The Grand Tasting! If you haven't made plans to attend, there's still time and you won't want to miss it! You can purchase tickets for the SWEET Event on August 21 here and tickets for The Grand Tasting on August 22 here! In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for one of your favorite childhood treats and steer clear of all those other impostors (wink).
Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake
Crust... 2 cups Crushed Graham Cracker
3 Tablespoons Granulated White Sugar
1/4-Teaspoon Kosher Salt
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (slightly melted)
2-8 ounce pkgs Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/3 Granulated White Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Nielsen Massey Bourbon Vanilla
2 Large Eggs 1/2 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1/2-Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
6.2 ounces of Hershey's Chocolate (4 1.55 oz bars)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Cups Miniature Marshmallows
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until mostly melted but not hot. Mix together your graham crackers, granulated sugar, salt and butter until you can squeeze the mixture in your hand and form clumps. You may need a little more butter depending upon the dryness of your grahams. Place the mixture in the bottom of an ungreased cake pan, square or circle, it doesn't really matter. Evenly pat down the crumbs until no holes remain. If you have a pan slightly smaller and the same size I would use it smash it down evenly. Smash...giggle. Bake in the oven for ten minutes, remove and allow cooling. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees for your filling.
Place your cream cheese into a standing mixer with the sugar, vanilla and salt. Let the mixture whip on medium speed for two minutes, add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula and then evenly distribute the filling over your cooled crust.
Surround the bottom of your pan with aluminum foil. You will probably need to pieces to criss cross the bottom of the pan and create a boat for the cheesecake, be gentile. Place this into a larger baking pan and fill the surrounding area with warm water about 1/2 way up the side. Place the entire thing into the oven slowly as to avoid splashing water into the cheesecake. Let cook for 90 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Once cheesecake is done, allow it to set in the water for 30 minutes and I noticed that the top didn't crack like the last time I made it and removed it immediately once cooked. Give it a try! Allow to cool overnight or for at least 90 minutes.
Then, take your chocolate and rough chop it; place it in a microwaveable bowl with your vegetable oil. Heat it in the microwave for 20-second intervals until chocolate is completely melted. Be careful not to overcook your chocolate, this will give you nasty sugar crystals (not cool). Pour it over the graham cracker crust, place it in the fridge and let it cool for 15-20 minutes.
Turn on the broiler, if you have a temperature option I typically use HI and watch the marshmallows like a hawk. Let your oven come up to temp. Evenly distribute the marshmallows over the chocolate, try not to leave any exposed chocolate and more marshmallows never hurt anybody. Place the pan on the high rack, tell the kids to step back. You should be squatting with the oven door open watching your marshmallows get nice and toasty right before they burn. Though this is totally subjective on how much crunch and torchy marsh you like, I like a lot! You may need a towel at hand to slightly rotate your dish to get even torch (no marsh left behind, ask Bush) on your marshmallows. Once your topping has the right color that you prefer, allow it to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into it. You will want to run a sharp knife under hot water if you desire perty slices.
I hope you and the family enjoys this recipe, I mean s'mores all year round, you're winning!
Charles Hunter III
My obsession with food began at a young age. It's kind of that cliche story of cooking in the kitchen with grandma, but it reigns true for me. The trio of my great grandmother's love for cooking and baking, working in the restaurant industry and culinary school cultivated a desire in me to learn all there is to know about all things edible. I look forward to sharing my perspective food in an artistic format. Welcome on this journey as we discover all that life, food and living local in Nashville, TN has to offer.