Just for a moment, close your eyes and imagine a summer night, sitting around a campfire, telling stories, toasting marshmallows, and eating s’mores. Remember those hot, gooey, graham-cracker and chocolate-bar summer desserts? Okay, you can open your eyes. Did anyone bring napkins?
I confess to a lifelong devotion to s’mores, so as a restaurant pastry chef, I’ve tried a number of ways to bring this summer-camp confection into the dining room. This year, I’m merging another childhood sweetheart—ice cream sandwiches— with s’mores to make a milk chocolate ice cream dessert with homemade marshmallow and graham crackers, a kind of campfire-meets-baked- Alaska thing. This is an ice cream sandwich that’s equally terrific served after a backyard barbecue or in a fine dining room.
Start a day or two before serving
While this dessert isn’t difficult to make, it does require time to make the different components: ice cream, graham crackers, and marshmallow topping. The good news is that you can make the components and assemble most of the sandwich ahead of time. When you’re ready to serve, all you have to do is broil the sandwiches. Here’s a plan:
Cook the custard for the ice cream two days before you’d like to serve the sandwiches. To develop the flavor, let the custard sit in the refrigerator for several hours or, ideally, overnight, and then freeze it in your machine the next day.
Make the graham crackers a day ahead, while the ice cream freezes. The crackers will keep in an airtight container for several days if you want to make them before that.
Make the marshmallow topping the day you’re serving the sandwiches. You’ll need 30 minutes to an hour to firm up the topping in the freezer before cutting portions. You can also make and pipe the marshmallow several hours in advance. The sandwiches will taste best on the day they’re made, but leftovers will keep in the freezer for a few days. Keep the graham crackers separate so they don’t get soggy.
Beg or borrow an ice-cream maker
You won’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make this dessert; just make sure you have an electric mixer and an ice-cream maker. Any hand-crank or electric icecream maker with at least a 1-quart capacity will do. If you don’t have an icecream maker, borrow one from a friend.
I do recommend getting hold of an angel food cake cutter (this looks like a large, dangerous comb), which will give your graham crackers a professional look. (These cutters are available at Cooking.com.) You’ll also need a 12x16-inch baking sheet for the graham crackers. At the restaurant, I use the backside of an aluminum half-sheet pan, but the large air-insulated baking sheets found in kitchen stores (for $15 to $20) work well.