If ever there’s ever a s’mores dessert on a menu, I’m quick to order it. We’ve ordered a slice of s’mores tart on two separate occasions recently. And on both occasions, I bookmarked the idea for later. But it was the time it took to make marshmallows that put a halt in my home-made idea. And then I found myself with a surplus of egg whites in the fridge, an unopened box of graham crackers, a brick of chocolate, an extra 20 minutes, and a better idea.
When it comes to closets, I purge. When it comes to food, I save everything. Even leftover egg whites from cakes and curds. I was halfway to an Angel Food Cake (12 whites) when I decided to call it quits and make pavlovas instead. There’s still 4 whites in the fridge.
I first made pavlovas 3 years ago in an effort to find quicker baking projects. Prior to, I spent my weekends baking, learning to bake. I’d tackle any recipe. The longer the better. I’d spend the rest of the weekend chasing light to shoot the project with a camera I’d only just met. I was spending more time with food than with friends.
This realization fueled a quest to cook smarter not harder. Having a baby only furthered this mission that was written in the archives of my DNA. I’ve been purging closets since the fourth grade and taking pictures of food on white backgrounds since 2010. Simplicity is in my bones, most days.
So here’s that s’mores tart simplified into a fancy s’more—a pavlova (a big cloud of meringue) topped with a two-ingredient ganache and generous dusting of shattered graham crackers. It melts in your mouth, leaving no unfortunate trace of marshmallow at the cracks of your lips. If you haven’t made a meringue prior, try this one. Working with eggs can be intimidating, but this recipe is incredibly doable. And if you find yourself asking why would I ever make a fancy s’more? Well, just make these, and you’ll have the answer.
- 2 large egg whites
- ¾ c. extra fine granulated sugar*
- pinch of kosher salt
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- 3/4 c. dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- generous pinch of kosher salt
- 2 high-quality graham crackers, roughly chopped
- Make pavlovas. Preheat the oven to 200º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a double boiler, combine egg whites, sugar, and salt. Whisk well. Set bowl over a pan filled with 1-inch of simmering water. Whisk continuously until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm to touch. Mixture will feel smooth and silky between the fingers when ready. Overcooking will scramble the eggs.
- Remove from heat, and pour eggs in bowl of standing mixer being sure not to drip any water into the bowl. Water is bad for a meringue. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form. Beat in vanilla.
- Using a 2-ounce trigger release ice-cream scoop, scoop meringue on the prepared being sheet, distributing evenly. Using the back of a spoon, gently carve out an indention in the middle of each meringue, being sure not to make it too thin. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar to help absorb any moisture.
- Bake until just dry, about 50 minutes. Meringues should still be white in color but dry to the touch. Allow to cool completely before carefully removing.
- With about 20 minutes left of baking, make ganache. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a light simmer over medium heat.
- Place chocolate and salt in a heat resistant bowl. Once the cream reaches a light simmer, pour over the chocolate. Whisk until evenly combined. Set aside and allow to cool a bit, whisking occasionally.
- Assemble s'mores. Using a thin spatula, carefully loosen pavlovas from the surface. Evenly distribute spreadable ganache to each of the pavlova nests. You may have a bit leftover. Lightly spread over the surface. Top with graham cracker crumbles.
- Allow pavlovas to rest for about 45 minutes until serving. Ganache will firm up. Serve same day.
Pavlova recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.