MARCH breAK! 2012: Shamrock S’mores

Sir Lóchrann Holmes’ Favourite
SHAMROCK S’MORES

with
Homemade Mint Marshmallows

and
Chocolate Graham Crackers from Scratch

I attempted to while away the time reading while my companion meditated over one of his Shamrock S’mores, an original choice at that hour in the morning, but then, Sir Lóchrann had rather original eating habits.” 
A Study in Emerald, Ch. 2 

Last Summer, we had a Marshmallow Day, making our own vanilla marshmallows and incorporating them into S’mores roasted over the grill.  For MARCH breAK!, to go with A Study in Emerald, the story I came up with for the kids to illustrate, we’ve added optional mint extract and green food colouring to our basic marshmallow recipe, and we’ve cut the marshmallows into shamrock shapes. We’ve also made our own graham crackers from scratch for the first time…but we didn’t make just any graham crackers, we made shamrock shaped chocolate graham crackers, again with optional mint flavouring. We stopped at chocolate bars, however. We didn’t make those.  

Homemade Mint Marshmallows

Ingredients

2 eggs (whites only)
1+ c icing sugar
3.5 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 c cold water
2 c granulated sugar 
.5 c clear corn syrup
a pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp mint extract
several drops green food colouring (optional)


Method:
Separate egg whites from yolks. (Save yolks for another recipe.)
In a cold mixing bowl and with cold beaters, beat egg whites into stiff peaks.
Transfer the stiff-peaked whites to another bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
Clean the mixing bowl and beaters (unless you have a spare!)
Liberally grease a 9×13 pan (you can use the wrapper for the butter in the graham cracker recipe below) and liberally dust the greased pan with icing sugar.
Place 3.5 packets of gelatin and .5 cup of the cold water into the bottom of the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and let sit.
The kids will enjoy watching it become a gooey sticky alien shape.
Fill a thick-bottomed saucepan with that other .5 cup of cold water, the granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt.
Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Then, boil over medium heat without stirring for approximately 10 minutes.
Watch for the mixture to bubble, thicken, and clear.
When a candy thermometer reaches 240F, remove from heat and pour on top of the thickened gelatin.
Mix the gelatin and sugar mixture on low for a few moments. It will be hot, so best have the adult take charge.
Gradually adjust the mixer to higher and higher speeds and let mix for 5-6 minutes.
Watch it circle round! The sugar will turn into a marshmallow fluff before your Irish eyes!
Add vanilla & mint extracts*, green food colouring (optional), and stiffened egg whites, and mix for another minute.
Use a spatula to guide the fluff into the prepared dish.  It usually spreads out evenly on its own.
Using a wire strainer or a mesh tea ball dust the top of the marshmallow wtih additional icing sugar.
Refrigerate for at least two hours, until stiffened.
Loosen the edges of the marshmallow with a butter knife.
Overturn the marshmallow onto a cutting board.
Use a mini- or small-sized shamrock cookie cutter to cut out of the marshmallows,
OR, cut the marshmallows into cubes with a large knife.
Dredge the sticky sides of the individual marshmallows in a bowl of icing sugar.

*For plain marshmallows, omit mint extract and increase vanilla extract to 1.5 tbs.
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Chocolate (Mint) Graham Crackers

Ingredients
.5 cup flour
.75 cup wheat flour
.5 tsp salt
.5 c cocoa powder
1.25 c icing sugar
1 tsp baking powder
.5 c butter, cubed, softened 
2 tbs honey
2+ tbs cold milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp mint extract (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 325F. 
Combine honey and milk in a small bowl and stir until dissolved.
In a nice large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Have the kids cut the butter into the dry ingredients with their fingers until they’ve formed a nice crumble.
Add the liquid and the extract(s) and toss gently with a fork for a few moments.
Put the little hands back into the bowl and have the kids begin to form a dough, kneading for about a minute.
Add a bit more milk if the mixture is not coming together.
Divide the dough in half and form into two spheres. 
On a piece of parchment paper that will fit your cookie sheet, roll the dough into a large rectangle less than 1/8-in thick. 
If so desired, trim the edges of the dough so that you have a perfect rectangle.
Gently prick the dough all over with a fork.
(We forgot this time around, and a few of our shamrocks had bumps! Oops!)
Place each paper full of thin, flattened dough onto a cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-14 minutes and remove from oven.
! IMMEDIATELY cut shapes into the crackers with a medium-sized shamrock-shaped cookie cutter. WORK QUICKLY ! 
(WARNING! The cookie cutter will conduct heat from the crackers and the sheet, so have the little ones use mitts!) 
You can also use a pizza wheel or ravioli cutter to slice the crackers into perfect squares. 
Let the crackers cool a moment longer on the pans.
Remove the excess from around the cut-outs and eat or smash for graham cracker crumbs.
Cool crackers completely on a wire rack.

For S’mores on the Grill…
Remove the grates from a gas grill and heat it on low, or start a mild fire on a charcoal grill or in an open fireplace.
Pierce marshmallow with a long metal skewer or stick.
Hold the marsmallow over the flames and rotate it until you’ve roasted or burnt it to your liking.
Press the roasted marshmallow into a chocolate square couched on top of a graham cracker.
Top with an additional graham cracker.
Smoosh the sandwich, raise it up in a toast to old St. Patrick, and enjoy!

For S’mores in the Microwave….
Place a square of chocolate on a cracker and microwave for 20-30 seconds until chocolate is soft.
Place a marshmallow on top of this and microwave for an additional 10-12 seconds. (They melt quickly!)
Top with a second cracker and taste!


These S’mores look an awful lot like the Fingerprint Four-Leaf Clover Cards we made this morning!
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