Take all the components of the sweetest campfire snack and turn it into a most elegant s'mores pie: a graham cracker crust, a dark chocolate ganache layer, and a tall, fluffy vanilla ganache that’s toasted to emulate the melty marshmallow.
I have lusted after this gorgeous (no)bake pie forever, it was just a matter of time before I tackled it. I think it was the toasted meringue that got me, which of course is no surprise, but what surprised me was my own ganache – with it’s little additions and perfect consistency, is what made me fall in love with this pie, and eat it long after the meringue had wept onto the plate it was stored on.
No part of Hay’s recipe was followed per se, but I took all her components and made them the way I know best: the right ratios for butter/crumbs, baking it to set it, ganache in grams with added flaked sea salt for depth, and a meringue that follows the basic formula you’ll see in all my recipes: ¼ cup granulated sugar per egg white. And of course, a vanilla bean for the speckles and flavor.
Graham or digestive crackers: I’m partial to the latter but use what you like. If you opt for oreos (golden or standard) you may wish to remove the cream or the crust will have too much butter in it and become soft, and melty.
Butter: One stick, melted. If you are using a particularly butter cookie for the crust, you might want to reduce this by 2 tablespoons.
Chocolate: This is important, use GOOD quality chocolate. If you are feeling up to the chopping task, grab a high quality chocolate bar and chop it up into small bits. If you are not, use *very* good quality chocolate chips (my favorite is the trader joes 72% cocoa solids bag). It is important that the chocolate be 70-78% cocoa solids so that it sets right with the amount of heavy cream.
Heavy Cream: Or heavy whipping cream, either will do and the minimal difference in fat content won’t trouble us too much here. For a dairy free option use coconut milk, the one stored in a can.
Salt & vanilla: You might not see this often but I like to jazz my ganaches up so I add flaky sea salt for pops of flavor in the ganache. Some vanilla helps round out the soft sweetness.
Egg whites: at room temperature they whip more easily but it’s fine to use them from the fridge.
Sugar: Granulated sugar. If you’d like, you can use a natural sugar like turbinado like I did in this recipe, but process it in a food processor first so that it dissolves into the egg whites.
Vanilla bean: Using a vanilla bean or paste will not only give you the lovely vanilla flavor but it will also add pretty black speckles throughout the meringue.
The crust is simple: grind the cookies, melt the butter, mix then press in the bottom and up the sides of a springform or pie, or even a cake pan.
Although this could be a no-bake smores pie, there is one step I do not skip: baking the crust. Doing this makes it firm so that when slices, it doesn’t completely crumble.
Post-bake, the crust will need to chill as a hot crust will melt the ganache and possibly burn it.
Let’s talk about getting that ganache right; two steps will seal the road to success: 1. chopping the chocolate finely and 2. bringing the heavy cream to the right temperature. I’d love to give you an exact temperature but I don’t think I’ve ever taken it, look for visual cues: once it begins to bubble at the sides and steam from the top, it’s ready to be poured over the bits of chocolate.
While you might be in a haste to mix the ganache to melt the chocolate quickly, patience is key: once poured over, give it a slight stir then leave it alone. This will help the chocolate melt slowly so that the ganache doesn’t break.
There’s a few methods to make a meringue. For the swiss method, you’d warm the sugar and egg whites in a double boiler until the sugar dissolves. In the french method, the sugar is slowly poured into the egg whites after they are frothy and as they are whipping. In both cases you’ll keep the machine on whipping until the meringue is at stiff peaks. Although I have more faith in the former, I opted for the latter this time but you do what you are comfortable with.
I used a 9” pie pan but you can also use a springform pan with a removable bottom or a cake pan lined with parchment paper and held into place with metal clips. The springform might give you a little trouble with butter melting in the oven so either bake it on top of a cookie sheet or skip that step.
Dark chocolate, as we are already adding heavy cream and quite a bit of it. If you use milk chocolate, which admittedly is a more classic choice for a smores treat, the ganache will be too soft since milk chocolate contains more milk. For this recipe I think 70-78% is best as it holds the ganache up well and adds a lovely, rich dark dimension to the ganache.
If you don’t want to use something as dark, and like a sweeter pie use a 55% cocoa solids bar (semi-sweet) and reduce the heavy cream by about 20 grams. If you went as low as milk chocolate (for a more “authentic s’mores taste”) I’d halve the heavy cream listed below.
Use a scale to measure the chocolate and heavy cream. Scald, do not boil, the heavy cream. Make sure the chocolate is in bits no bigger than a chocolate chip. Let the heavy cream sit over the chocolate for 5 minutes before fully mixing to melt. Once 5 minutes have passed, stir, stir stir until completely smooth.
YOu have two options: a kitchen torch or the broiler function on your oven. This is my kitchen torch. If broiling, make sure the pie is chilled and the oven is preheated to broil. Once it’s in, watch it like a hawk: as soon as you see it fully toasted remove it less it burn.
You can make pie up to the point of pouring in the ganache days ahead of time. It will keep just fine, covered or not. The meringue is a different story, if stored overnight the meringue will begin leaking and will separate from the topping. Best to make and top it the same day.
I imagine this do-able: dairy free butter for the crust, and coconut milk for the ganache. Of course, the chocolate you use should be dairy free too.
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