Deconstructed S'mores Recipe (Chocolate Peanut Butter Dessert Cups)
S'mores are a classic campfire dessert. Generally, only chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers are necessary for this American treat. As a French person, nothing symbolizes American desserts more than peanut butter, so I had to add some to the dish.
This summer we decided to make use of a little outdoor fireplace on our property (we've been in this home for 6 years; I know we're pretty slow). We spent so many evenings roasting marshmallows and telling scary stories.
I noticed the girls would smear chocolate everywhere, which makes the laundry not so fun. So I served these desserts in verrines (dessert cups). I don't know if making deconstructed s'mores reduced our laundry chores, but it tasted amazing!
*The dessert was inspired by Chef Catherine Schimenti (Chef Michael Mina's pastry chef), which was served during the Sugar Party at SFChefs 2010.
Yields: 12 dessert cups1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
6 full sheets chocolate-flavored graham crackers
1 pint homemade dark chocolate mousse (click on the link for the recipe)
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
8 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, warm
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
¼ cup coarsely chopped peanuts, previously roasted
1 culinary blow torch
For the peanut butter cream:
In a bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese and 6 tablespoons powdered sugar and beat for 2 minutes until the texture is smooth and creamy. Divide the mascarpone into 2 bowls, two-thirds in one and one-third in the other. In one bowl, mix the warm peanut butter with 2/3 of the mascarpone cream. In the other bowl, mix the remaining mascarpone with vanilla extract.
Clean your mixer blades in hot soapy water. Always make sure the beater blades are completely clean prior to whipping cream for optimum results. The whipping cream should be whipped cold. Whisk the heavy cream for about 2 minutes at low speed. Add the remaining powdered sugar and increase the speed of your mixer and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes until it forms soft peaks. Don't over-beat or the texture will become grainy.
Using a silicone spatula, mix 1/3 of the whipped cream with the peanut mascarpone to soften it. Add another 1/3 of the whipped cream and gently fold in the cream to get an airy batter. Plastic-wrap and chill the peanut butter cream in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
Fold the rest of the whipped cream into the vanilla-flavored mascarpone cream.
For the graham crakers: Crush the graham crackers down to a coarse crumb. I use a mortar and pestle; it's ok if there are some larger crumbs.
Line up the verrine glasses. Pipe or spoon a thin layer of vanilla mascarpone cream into the dessert cups. Repeat the same procedure with a thick layer of chocolate mousse. Add a layer of graham crackers. Lastly, fill the cup with a small amount of peanut butter cream, leaving about ¼-inch of head space for the mashmallow cream. Cover with plastic wrap and place the cups in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.
When serving, unwrap the desserts and fill the top with marshmallow cream. Use a spreader to remove the excess cream. Caramelize the top with a culinary torch until the marshmallow forms a golden brown crust and starts to bubble. The marshmallow will caramelize and can burn fast, so watch it carefully as it changes color until the crust is formed. Garnish with a few chopped peanuts.
You could drizzle the top with a caramel sauce (caramel au beurre salé), then sprinkle with crushed peanuts if you want to make the dessert sweeter and even more decadent.
I served the dessert in small verrines. Verrine is just a fancy word for glasses; they're the latest trend in French cooking. Depending on the height of the verrines, you might want to increase or decrease the amount of mousse. Count 2 parts chocolate mousse to 1 part of peanut butter cream as peanut butter can be overpowering.September 3, 2010.