Lemon Ginger Shortbread S’mores

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on October 3, 2011

homemade smores
He was pretty angry at having to cross four lanes of traffic so I could barf along the side of the road on the Schuylkill Expressway. He probably never knew about all the times I held it in until we paused at a rest stop. But I don’t think my dad will ever forgive me for yakking in the back seat of his Porsche.

To be fair, it wasn’t the first time I had tangled with motion sickness and lost, so my dad and stepmom were somewhat prepared for what was going down. A beach towel (why did we have a beach towel when we were taking a trip to Toronto? Still a mystery.) was quickly thrown into my lap, though not quick enough to offset all the damage. My Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and denim skirt also took a pretty direct hit.

It was only after this particular instance of breakfast suddenly meeting Porsche leather in a spectacularly violent fashion that my parents started putting two and two together. Casey is a nerdling who reads in the car… Casey is a sensitive flower who always throws up in the car… DING DING DING.

Thus began a lifetime ban from cracking a book on any car trip, even to the grocery store or (gasp!) library. The Walkman, then later the Discman, then later the iPod became my constant travel companion. I got to be scarily adept at dropping into a deep catnap on any moving vehicle.

Since I can’t read in the car—even checking Facebook on my phone can give me the jibblies—and because listening to music tends to lull me into a thoughtful stupor, by now I’m used to my mind wandering and taking long trips of its own on multi-hour car rides. Like a personal game of Telephone, a simple discussion on the brilliance of Bob’s Burgers can lead me down five different mental tangents so that the next thing that comes out of my mouth is “I really think I should start trying to make my own cheese.”

(See, on Bob’s Burgers, there’s a character named Jimmy Pesto, and pesto usually contains basil, and I can never get basil to grow in my garden, and I’d also like to grow a fig tree in our yard but think I’ll kill it, but I do like to eat fig jam with cheeses, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could have wheels of cheese aging in your basement at all times?)

This is how overly ambitious dishes come about. If, say, the concept of s’mores drifts idly through my brain, why wouldn’t I start thinking about graham flour, and how maybe you could make a shortbread cookie with it? Or how a little lemon zest… and ginger?… might make their way into that cookie? And at this point, it would be silly not to add some ginger to the chocolate layer. Which means that the marshmallow on top should definitely taste like lemon. Why not?

homemade smores
If you’ve never attempted homemade marshmallows, and you’ve got a stand mixer, a candy thermometer, and a bit of an adventurous spirit, I strongly urge you to try it just once. The big hurdle for most home cooks is finding gelatin sheets, which have a sturdier protein structure than egg whites do and give the marshmallow its signature bounce; the gelatin makes a stronger, more shapeable goo that won’t weep moisture or deflate over time.

Amazon sells gelatin sheets, as do many dedicated baking stores like my favorite, New York Cake, and they never go bad, according to David Lebovitz. He also has a wonderfully comprehensive gelatin FAQ that includes a ratio for using powdered gelatin in place of the sheets, if you’re willing to give it a try. (I haven’t tried yet, so report back if you do attempt it!)

Honestly, the shortbread is fantastic on its own, and if you wanted to make it a softer, chewier cookie, just omit one of the cups of graham flour. Topping it with lemon curd and a blob of homemade marshmallow fluff (no gelatin or stand mixer required) makes it a lemon meringue cookie instead of a s’more-stravaganza.

Oh, and ginger is a natural digestive—dare I suggest bringing a few along on your next road trip? You might also want to bring a beach towel, though; I make no guarantees.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

NoPotCoooking October 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I haven’t made marshmallows, but maybe I will give it a try. These look sooo good – a grown up twist on a child’s dessert!

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Jane Boursaw October 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Holy cow, those look dreamy. And I could never read in the car as a youngster without getting sick, but oddly, have been able to in recent years. Maybe all that time reading stuff on my iPhone is shifting my sensibilities or something. It’s weird.

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Sheryl October 9, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Every single time I took a car trip as a kid,we always had to pull over. Not much has changed, either.
These S’mores look quite awesome, though!

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MyKidsEatSquid October 10, 2011 at 8:43 am

I love this combination–so you put the ginger in the ganache. Brilliant. I don’t get car sick, but maybe I should feign it so I have an excuse to make these? Bananas also ease tummy troubles…

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Living Large October 10, 2011 at 11:54 am

Well, at least some good has come of your wandering mind while riding. These look delicious. Motion sickness does tend to subside as we grow older. I had it terrible when I was a child and after a very eventful and not very pleasant train ride from Kansas City to California, I was drugged with dramamine for every long ride until I was about 11. No problems now. Maybe you can finally read in the car now!

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Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart October 10, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I’m still giggling about the use of the word “jibblies.”

These look awesome, but intimidating on a Monday afternoon.

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Casey Barber Casey Barber October 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Roxanne, I fully admit to appropriating the word “jibblies” from the Strong Bad cartoons. A perfect word for so many occasions!

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Merr October 14, 2011 at 10:55 am

I immediately bookmarked this recipe! It sounds so fun and good and, in a way, elegant!

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sarah henry October 20, 2011 at 1:57 am

Impressed you can even think about food if you’re in the passenger seat and fighting off motion sickness. (Fellow sufferer here, too, which is why I prefer to drive.)

These treats look divine and, to echo Merr above, classy.

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