I've done a pretty good job of filtering out my flops and failures from this site. I hid behind that chocolate loaf cake for months before I finally tried it again, and there have been an honest handful of mistakes, mishaps and misunderstandings between me and my oven. I try to shield you from those, I try to protect your innocent little eyes from seeing horrifying baked goods that have no place in your tummies. But I fear I can no longer keep up this charade of everything I make turns out great. I'd be a rotten spy, I don't think I'd be able to maintain my sanity knowing I was living a double life. And yet here I am, sweeping burnt pie crusts and transparently thin chocolate chip cookies under the rug, hiding them in my shame. I am so, so sorry I haven't been more honest. So I'll come clean for now, let's take things slow. In the future, I may dedicate an entire section of the Recipes collection to duds, but I'm soooo not there yet. Let's start small. Let's start with that s’more pie.
The frigid temps have made me incredibly grouchy with cabin fever so it should've come as no surprise a few days ago when I was hammering away at some classic prose and the craving for a s'more hit me so hard I nearly suffered a case of whiplash. Again. The snow on the ground and the space heater by my feet were a cruel reminder that a real campfire was still far, far away. Camping in general, really, and that breaks my heart. But please, I digress. I had to have that oozy chocolate, the snap of a graham cracker and the gooey marshmallow cobwebs between my fingers. Rather that attempt to light a real fire in our fireplace, which could prove disastrous, I unearthed this recipe from my go-to source when I'm stumped on what to make, assuming it couldn't go wrong. Oh dear, and it did. It went horribly wrong.
The graham cracker crust baked up just fine and it smelled amazing, but it went downhill with the chocolate filling, which is nothing more than chocolate, cream and an egg. It said to bake it until the center is just barely wobbly, about 25 minutes. I checked it after 18 minutes and it was boiling. It was literally moving, tiny volcanoes spitting and spewing chocolate flecks all over the place - and it continued to threaten me even after I took it out of the oven, wiggling and writhing like something out of Thriller. Once it cooled, it started to pull away from the edges, and I knew there was trouble. So I topped it with baby marshmallows and flicked the oven to broil, re-reading the recipe's instructions to broil for three minutes. After one measly minute under the broiler, my father yelled, "Why does it smell like a structure fire in here?" Oh no. I didn't even bother to open the oven; I just turned it off and ran upstairs and hid. Or maybe I stopped, dropped and rolled. It's all a blur.
I was already at a boiling point considering I just discovered I'd spent five hours reading the wrong assignment, and I was expecting this pie to be a small sanctuary from it. I was willing to pull an all-nighter to finish the reading and the summary if I had to, and it was doable with this pie and a fork. I intended to eat it straight from the pan. It was not meant to be. My mother, bless her dear heart, scraped the marshmallow topping off and we tried again. (Did you know it only takes 35 seconds to toast marshmallows under the broiler?) I ate a slice out of pity, sitting at the kitchen table with red-rimmed eyes and my dishwasher-destroyed fork in my hand. It was a wreck. The crust didn't hold together, the filling was grainy and weepy, and the marshmallows were toasted on the top and cold underneath. I didn't bother trying to figure out what went wrong, I'm pretty sure I followed the recipe spot-on, but perhaps not. Perhaps I was distracted. Maybe I should just hang up my apron and call it a day in the world of s’more pies.
If you take a crack at this, please let me know how it works out for you. Not so much for me. Also, the recipe here includes homemade marshmallow, but I used regular store-bought. Who knows how much worse it could've been, huh?
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
5 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for greasing
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (10 graham crackers or 24 small gingersnaps; about 6 oz, pulsed in a food processor until finely ground)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt (omitted if you use salted butter)
For chocolate cream filling
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not more than 70% cacao; not unsweetened), finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, at room temperature for 30 minutes
For marshmallow topping
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Vegetable oil for greasing
Special equipment: a candy thermometer
Make graham cracker crust: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter pie 9- to 9 1/2-inch pie plate. Stir together all ingredients in a bowl and press evenly on bottom and up side of pie plate. Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes, and then cool on a rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.
Make chocolate cream filling: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put chocolate in a large bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, then pour hot cream over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then gently whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Gently whisk in egg and a pinch of salt until combined and pour into graham cracker crumb crust (crust will be about half full).
Cover edge of pie with a pie shield or foil and bake until filling is softly set and trembles slightly in center when gently shaken, about 25 minutes. Cool pie to room temperature on a rack (filling will firm as it cools), about 1 hour.
Make marshmallow topping: Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a large deep heatproof bowl and let stand until softened, about 1 minute.
Stir together sugar, corn syrup, a pinch of salt, and remaining 1/4 cup water in cleaned 1- to 1 1/4-quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil until thermometer registers 260°F, about 6 minutes.
Begin beating water and gelatin mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed, then carefully pour in hot syrup in a slow stream, beating (avoid beaters and side of bowl). When all of syrup is added, increase speed to high and continue beating until mixture is tripled in volume and very thick, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then immediately spoon topping onto center of pie filling; it will slowly spread to cover top of pie. Chill, uncovered, 1 hour, and then cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap (oiled side down) and chill 3 hours more.
Brown topping: Preheat broiler. Transfer pie to a baking sheet. Cover edge of pie with pie shield or foil and broil 3 to 4 inches from heat, rotating pie as necessary, until marshmallow topping is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Cool pie on a rack 10 minutes. Slice pie with a large heavy knife dipped in hot water and then dried with a towel before cutting each slice.