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Homemade Marshmallows Are S'more Delicious


Commentator and cookbook author Nancy Baggett is perfectly willing to brave the mosquito hordes, as long as she gets to that pot of melted gold at the end of her Labor Day weekend picnic.

Ms. NANCY BAGGETT (Commentator, Cookbook Author): My family's gathering for a cookout. I'm all set. My sticks are whittled and a sack of marshmallows, grahams and chocolate bars waits by the door. I wouldn't want to miss this last chance of the season for the sanctioned overindulgence called eating s'mores.

I'm already mentally fast forwarding through the steak grilling and corn roasting and chitchatting and I'm on to the main event. Never mind that we cook over a backyard grill instead of a crackling campfire. No matter that lawn chairs and landscaping and gas lamps stand in for a deep, still forest or that the odor of charcoal supplants the purifying scent of smoldering (unintelligible) and tall pines.

In my mind's eye, my grandchildren merge with the kids I recall from my camp counseling days - eager but callow and in dire need of improved marshmallow roasting technique. If you don't get them hot, they won't melt the chocolate and glue the grahams together, I want to warn them. But I respect that it's an art requiring practice that youngsters need to find their own personal s'mores style.

Maybe my grandkids will mimic my daughter-in-law, whose technique is sensible and refined but a touch persnickety. She calculates the proper distance for holiding her white puffs from the heat, then slowly, methodically rotates them until golden brown. My son's approach is shocking and utterly incomprehensible to his mother. He pushes the marshmallows and graham crackers aside and simple eats the chocolate bar. This peculiar predilection, which I hope his children never witness, must be inherited from the other side of the family.

Other than upgrading to premium chocolate and sometimes to homemade marshmallows, my own s'mores method hasn't changed much in decades. The puffy confections stay by the glowing embers until they sizzle and singe and suddenly ignite. I let the fireballs char on the outside until mostly carbonized then, poof, I blow out the flames.

Yes, this occasionally results in something resembling ashes and lumps of coals, but when I'm on, it yields an amazing amalgam of fragrant, partly-molten, partly-crispy, chewy burnt sugar of goo that fully melts the chocolate and plays beautifully off the graham cracker crunch.

No wonder these goodies are called s'mores. With the plaintive sound of the folk tune "Kumbaya" suddenly playing in my head, I'm more on the fast approaching end of grilling season and contemplate the cold, s'mores-less months ahead. Perhaps I can put my cookbook author skills to work and create some clever indoor s'mores recipes to carry me through.

How about a batch of oven-baked cinnamon graham and cranberry studded s'mores bars for Thanksgiving? Or maybe a chocolate peppermint s'mores pie topped with broiled marshmallows and red and green sprinkles for Christmas.

I'm sure my son will pronounce them ghastly but they will drive my grandchildren absolutely wild.

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LYDEN: Commentator Nancy Baggett actually makes her marshmallows from scratch -imagine that. You can find the recipe on our Web site,

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LYDEN: And "The Song of Hiawatha" that we spoke of just a few minutes ago inspired our parting words tonight. They come from another poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The songbirds leaveth at summer's close. Only the empty nests are left behind, and pipings of the quail among the sheaves.

That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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