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Lemon Ginger Shortbread S’mores

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.

homemade smores

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 like lemon ginger shortbread s’mores 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 lemon ginger shortbread s’mores.

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.

homemade smores

Lemon Ginger Shortbread S'mores

Yield: 2 dozen sandwich cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 30 minutes

Homemade lemon ginger shortbread s'mores bring surprising flavors and elegance to this favorite childhood dessert.

Ingredients

Marshmallows

  • vegetable shortening
  • cornstarch
  • 12 gelatin sheets
  • 1 cup light corn syrup or Lyle's golden syrup, divided
  • 2 cups (14 ounces; 400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon confectioner's sugar

Cookies

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (105 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger (from an approximately 2-inch piece)
  • 2 cups (6 3/4 ounces; 192 grams) graham flour
  • 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces; 120 grams) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch kosher salt

Ganache

  • 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces (113 grams; about 2/3 cup) chopped bittersweet chocolate (at least 60 percent cacao)

Instructions

Make the marshmallows:

  1. For mini marshmallows or small discs/squares for the s'mores, grease a 9x13-inch pan with shortening and coat lightly with cornstarch, tapping out the excess. For big, fluffy cubes, do the same to a 9-inch square baking dish.
  2. Soften the gelatin sheets by submerging them in a heatproof (metal or aluminum) bowl filled with ice-cold water and a few ice cubes thrown in for good measure.
  3. Make a double boiler by filling a small saucepan halfway with water and bringing it to a simmer.
  4. Divide the corn syrup, pouring 1/2 cup (156 grams) into the bowl of a stand mixer and stirring the other 1/2 cup into a medium saucepan along with the granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water.
  5. Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan with corn syrup, sugar, and water, and place over medium heat. Keep an eye on it, stirring gently as it comes to a boil.
  6. As the sugar syrup heats up, drain the gelatin, squeezing gently to wring out excess water, and return to the heatproof bowl.
  7. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and stir to melt the gelatin.
  8. Add the gelatin to the corn syrup in the stand mixer bowl and stir with the stand mixer's paddle attachment on low.
  9. When the sugar syrup reaches 235 degrees F (soft-ball stage) on the candy thermometer, remove it from the heat.
  10. Increase the stand mixer speed to medium and drizzle the sugar syrup slowly into the bowl. Be careful to do it slowly, so screaming-hot sugar doesn't fly all over the kitchen.
  11. Increase the stand mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 5-6 minutes, watching the marshmallow goo turn from off-white and frothy to light, shiny, and fluffy.
  12. Add the lemon extract and salt in the last minute of mixing.
  13. Grease a spatula to help pour and spread the marshmallow goo into the prepared baking pan.
  14. Using a small mesh strainer, dust the top of the marshmallow lightly with confectioner's sugar.
  15. Let sit for 8 hours so the marshmallow can set.

Make the cookies:

  1. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the lemon zest and ginger on low speed.
  3. Mix the flours and salt together in a small bowl, then slowly add to the stand mixer bowl while stirring on low speed until a crumbly dough forms.
  4. Shape the dough into a log about 2 inches wide and 12 inches long on a sheet of plastic wrap, then wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line two baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone liners.
  6. With a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/4-inch rounds and place on the baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cookies are just hinting at golden brown around the edges.
  8. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and cool on racks.

Make the ganache:

  1. Bring the ginger and cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat—it will only take a minute or two for bubbles to form.
  2. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the ginger to infuse its flavors into the cream.
  3. Make a double boiler by filling a small saucepan halfway with water and bringing it to a simmer.
  4. Strain the infused cream into a heatproof (metal or aluminum) bowl and add the chopped chocolate.
  5. Place the bowl over the simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water, and stir constantly to melt the chocolate.

Assemble:

  1. Spread warm chocolate on one side of each cookie with a knife or offset spatula.
  2. Cut the marshmallow into squares or stamp out discs with a cookie or biscuit cutter to fit the shortbread cookies.
  3. Melt the chocolate and one side of the marshmallow lightly with a kitchen torch, then sandwich the two melted sides together to adhere.
  4. Burnish the top of the marshmallow to a gorgeous golden brown with the kitchen torch and serve.

Notes

The completed s'mores keep for at least two days with no ill effects.

Marshmallow recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 254Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 33mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 6g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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21 Comments

  1. Wow, do these sound good despite the queasy beginning of this story!! Don’t know that I have the patience to make all these homemade ingredients, but I’d sure love to try them sometime when I’m visiting my grand-cats! :)

  2. Very funny. Sometimes good things come out of unpleasent things.
    The S’mores look terrific, but please do not eat any before a long trip.

  3. I seem to recall that there is a vegetarian ingredient one can use in place of gelatin, but what it is escapes me at the moment. do you know, Casey? and have you tried it?

    1. Kerry, just tonight I got a recipe for marshmallows that uses xanthan gum (the same stabilizer used in a lot of gluten free baking recipes) in place of gelatin. I’ll play with it and update the recipe with my findings – and email you directly when I do so.

  4. Hi Casey! Looking for the graham flour and even Whole Foods staff looked at me like I was crazy! Seems no one has heard of it, although the manager of the Foodtown in Cedar Grove will look for it for me. Can I just run graham crackers through the food processor? I’m going to try that tomorrow because I want the cookie part of this.
    ps. I have a yummy peanut butter kandy kake recipe that I made for my husband’s birthday. He said it is better than the store ones. Let me know if you want it. See you soon!

    1. Carol, larger Whole Foods markets like the one in West Orange (shock! now you all know my local Whole Foods and can stalk me there accordingly) do have it in the baking aisle – it’s with all the other Bob’s Red Mill products. King Arthur Flour also carries a whole wheat pastry flour/graham flour online, so in a pinch, you can use whole wheat flour. In this recipe, I would substitute cake flour for the all purpose flour and whole wheat flour for the graham flour if necessary.

      Regular graham crackers run through the food processor won’t work as well because they’ve already been baked – the flour in the crackers has already been cooked once, so it won’t have the same effect on soaking up the butter and sugar.

  5. Thanks for this recipe. These sound delicious. I totally get car-sickness when reading by the way. I have never been able to do it. My husband? Reads the whole trip. Ugh!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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…

  10. 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!

  11. 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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