Campfire Treats for Canada Day

Who doesn’t love the sticky, gooey, sweet and creamy s’more? There are some things that just can’t be improved upon – memories are made sitting around a campfire after a day of fresh air and relaxation, enjoying the warm glow while holding a meditative gaze over toasting marshmallows. Everyone has their signature toast: some like just a light amber while others like to char the outside to reveal the molten cream underneath. While there is nothing better than campfire s’mores, there is something much better than store-bought marshmallows. Think homemade. Candy can be tricky but nothing could be simpler than a marshmallow. I am certainly not the pastry chef of this dynamic duo but even I got it right the first try. My first go-round at les macarons, not so much.

I am not going to lie…this is not exactly health food. But we all need a treat every now and then and making marshmallows at home means you control the quality of ingredients. I am not a fan of corn syrup so I substituted agave with great results. You could also use honey if you prefer. You won’t end up with a perfectly white marshmallow but a soft off-white which is beautiful in its own right. So as you get prepared for your long weekend camping trip, consider adding  Coconut Ginger Dream S’mores and Fiery Cinnamon S’mores to the menu for this Canada Day. And if you aren’t lucky enough to be heading out of the city, make them anyway. Sit on your deck, plug in some nature sounds on your iPod, close your eyes and pretend.

Fiery Cinnamon S’mores
Feeds a crowd…a great s’more for the less sugar-inclined.

1 pkg graham crackers (note: Kinnikinnick makes a lovely gluten free version)
2 100g bars of chili pepper chocolate  (I used Lindt)
1 recipe Cinnamon Marshmallows (below)

Coconut Ginger Dream S’mores
Feeds a crowd…these are the sweeter s’more

1 pkg Nairn’s Stem Ginger Oat Cakes (I like these better than store-bought ginger snaps, also wheat free)
2 100g bars 85% cacao chocolate (I used Lindt; trust me on the 85%, it cuts the sweetness)
1 recipe Dreamy Coconut Marshmallows (below)

If you are near a campfire, you know what to do.

Otherwise, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Assemble s’mores on a cookie sheet and bake for just a minute or two, until everything starts to get melty and delicious. Consume with abandon.

Cinnamon Marshmallows

This is a classic French marshmallow: like perfect little pillows of spicy sweet goodness. Makes 32 large or 64 small marshmallows

1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
4 pkg gelatin

3 cups sugar
1 cup good quality agave syrup
1 cup water
1/4 tsp sea salt

rice starch or potato starch for dusting
vegetable oil

Line two 8 inch or one 9 x 13 inch square pan with tin foil and grease with a mild vegetable oil like almond or grape seed.

In a stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment and a large bowl, pour in the water and mix in the cinnamon. Sprinkle with the gelatine and allow to sit while you prepare the candy syrup.

Attach a candy thermometer to a medium sized pot and add the sugar, syrup, water and salt and stir through. Bring to a boil and cook until the soft ball stage, between 234 and 240 degrees. As the syrup gets hotter, reduce temperature a bit so that you don’t wind up with a hot overflowing mess of burning sugar syrup. Let’s just say that I speak from experience. When making candy, do not attempt to multitask.

When the syrup reaches temperature, start the stand mixer at about speed 6. Start slowly and carefully pouring syrup down the side of the bowl and watch out for splashes. As splash risk decreases, increase the beater speed to 8 and finally 10. Continue beating until mixture is very stiff and sticky when you test it. The longer you beat it, the more air you will incorporate, about 10-20 minutes. The mixture should be larger than when you first started.

Pour mixture into the oiled pans, using an oiled spatula to smooth the surface if necessary and let sit undisturbed on the counter for 24 hours.

Sift starch onto the surface and then carefully turn out onto a board. Carefully peel the foil away, using your fingers to pry the foil off the marshmallow gently and starch this surface. Cut with an oiled knife and starch all exposed surfaces as you cut.

Keeps for weeks in an airtight container.

Dreamy Coconut Marshmallows
Makes 32 large or 64 small marshmallows

1 cup coconut milk (the tinned variety)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp freshly grated lime zest
4 pkg gelatin

3 cups sugar
1 cup good quality agave syrup
1 cup water
1/4 tsp sea salt

unsweetened shredded coconut and rice starch or potato starch for dusting
vegetable oil

Line two 8 inch or one 9 x 13 inch square pan with tin foil and grease with a mild vegetable oil like almond or grape seed.

In a stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment and a large bowl, pour in the coconut milk and sprinkle with the gelatine. Allow to sit while you prepare the candy syrup.

Attach a candy thermometer to a medium sized pot and add the sugar, syrup, water and salt and stir through. Bring to a boil and cook until the soft ball stage, between 234 and 240 degrees. As the syrup gets hotter, reduce temperature a bit so that you don’t wind up with a hot overflowing mess of burning sugar syrup. Let’s just say that I speak from experience. When making candy, do not attempt to multitask.

When the syrup reaches temperature, start the stand mixer at about speed 6. Start slowly and carefully pouring syrup down the side of the bowl and watch out for splashes. As splash risk decreases, increase the beater speed to 8 and finally 10. Continue beating until mixture is stiff and sticky when you test it, about 10 – 20 minutes. The mixture will not expand as much if you are using coconut milk.

Pour mixture into the oiled pans, using an oiled spatula to smooth the surface if necessary and let sit undisturbed on the counter for 24 hours. Because of the density of the coconut milk, you will notice air bubbles escaping. This recipe does not make as fluffy of a marshmallow and the fat in the coconut milk greatly enhances the sweetness.

Variations: If you want a milder, fluffier marshmallow, use light coconut milk or for a classic recipe (albeit a much milder flavour) use coconut water instead of coconut milk.

Mix 1 cup coconut with 1/4 cup starch and use this mixture to press onto all surfaces as you cut. Sift starch mixture onto the surface and then carefully turn out onto a board. Carefully peel the foil away, using your fingers to pry the foil off the marshmallow gently and starch this surface. Cut with an oiled knife and starch all exposed surfaces as you cut.

Keeps for weeks in an airtight container.

The inspiration for the marshmallows came from the summer edition of Edible Vancouver magazine. If you are looking for a delicious way to use those local strawberries, they have an amazing strawberry marshmallow recipe, which I used as technique guidance for the recipes here.

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