Saturday, July 16, 2011
Hello, my friends! It's the middle of July, and it's prime camping weather, wouldn't you say?
This beautiful weather reminds me of a really cool book I stumbled across. It's called S is for S'mores: A Camping Alphabet, and it was written by Helen Foster James and illustrated by Lita Judge. (This book is part of the Alphabet Books series, published by Sleeping Bear Press, and you can find a list of all the different titles - from A is for Abraham to Z is for Zookeeper - here.)
S is for S'mores is a great alphabet book, running from Adventure to Beach camps to Canyons and onward, but it's also a lot more than that. For each letter, there is a 4-line poem and a large, friendly illustration of a camping family experiencing their trip. Sidebars on each page describe each letter's terms in greater detail and give really neat background information (the Desert page, for example, describes desert campgrounds, reminds you to make sure to bring plenty of water, gives information on the Joshua Tree, and tells you about Death Valley National Park). These sidebars are interesting for older children, but can be left out for the little ones with no disruption of the book's flow.
These beautiful summer days are the days when I long to be outdoors hiking, canoeing, swimming, or generally enjoying the good weather, just like the people in this book's illustrations. Of course, camping isn't really camping without a campfire, and what's the point of making a campfire if you aren't going to make s'mores with it? But, alas, it's not always easy to find the time to go camping, and it's not always a good idea to light a fire. Sometimes you just have to camp in the back yard, or have an indoor picnic. Which is fun, but... what about the s'mores?
Thanks to Anna over at CookieMadness, you no longer have to worry about having a campfire, since she perfected the most amazing thing.... the S'mores Cookie! (You can find the recipe here.) With graham crackers in the dough and mini marshmallows and Hershey bars on top, it's a perfect, portable, make-ahead s'more that you can enjoy without a campfire.
I had to share these with you all... especially since every time I've made them, people ask me for the recipe. So, here it is! (And thank you, Anna!)
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup graham cracker crumbs*
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
about 1 cup mini-marshmallows
2 to 3 chocolate bars, chopped**
1. Preheat your oven to 375.
2. Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda. Mix into the wet mixture until well-combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a baking sheet, and bake for 9 minutes. Then, pull the tray out of the oven and ever-so-quickly top with 3-4 marshmallows and some chunks of chopped chocolate bar. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until done. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.
* I find that it takes about 5 whole graham crackers to make 1 cup of crumbs. You can use your fingers, a food processor, or a number of other things to make them into crumbs, but I find the easiest way is to put them into a sturdy freezer bag and roll it with a rolling pin.
** I cut mine into diamonds with a butter knife, then stored them in the fridge until needed. Oooh, pretty!
I'd recommend letting these cool at least most of the way before eating them, because molten marshmallows and chocolate together tend to lead to burned tongues. You can always heat them in the microwave for a few seconds afterward, and make them perfectly melty that way.
Yes, these are a bit time-consuming, and also a little frustrating, what with the chocolate that inevitably melts on your hands when you're adding it to half-baked cookies, but they are absolutely worth the effort! Trust me on this one... or try them for yourself and see. You won't be disappointed.
I've been thinking a lot about summer recipes lately, and I have a few others to give to you. Do you have a favorite summer book or recipe that you'd like to share with me? Email me at KatCooksTheBooks@gmail.com or send a comment to our Facebook fan page! Or comment right here on the blog, and we can have a lovely discussion that way.