So many of us have memories of sitting around a campfire, telling ghost stories or sharing family legends, and roasting marshmallows to form this delectable treat — s’mores.
Doesn’t the thought of a roasted marshmallow, melting chocolate, and graham cracker just make your mouth water? While it takes your heart and your mind back to a kinder, gentler time? One where the long summer days and lazy summer nights allowed a slowing of life in general.
But have you ever wondered about what it would be like to have more than the classic milk chocolate added to this awesome American pastime? I really hadn’t until recently…
We enjoyed a multi-generational girls’ night with baby boomer and fitness goddess Patti Bashor, 59; Gen Xer “Smart Alice Attorney,” Aly Bashor, 34; international grad student and chocolate connoisseur Jackie Mullen, 23; and myself, Gen Xer, physician, travel writer, and purveyor of fun, random things to do, Gail Clifford, 50.
We gathered treats, chocolate-based, peanut butter, and cherry — anything we saw in the candy or baking aisles at the store that looked like it would taste good with the classic graham cracker and marshmallow — and headed for the fire pit.
Cool and dark, the Arizona night sky showcased stars and deck twinkle lights. We settled into our chairs, huddled around the fire against the chilly desert breezes.
Read on for our taste-tested combinations, calorie checks, and s’mores-making pro tips below.
1. Peanut Butter
First up? Peanut butter. About a teaspoon spread across one graham cracker square.
First responses: “Yum.” “That’s good.” “Really good.” A perfect score.
We each tried one s’more with milk chocolate and one with dark chocolate. Preferences remained the same. If you prefer milk chocolate in real life, we found you’ll prefer milk chocolate here, too. If you prefer dark chocolate, you’ll prefer dark chocolate here. Though I can tell you as a milk chocolate prefer-er, the dark chocolate tasted better to me here than anywhere else I’ve tried it.
The most favored PB among all generations: Skippy. Its creamy goodness and light taste were just the right addition to our milk or dark chocolate and uplifted the taste of these otherwise classic s’mores.
Calorie Check: So you know, the typical s’mores contains about 145 calories: 65 calories for the two graham cracker squares, 25 calories for the marshmallow, and 55 calories for the quarter of a chocolate bar (double to 110 calories if you use one chocolate piece on either side of the marshmallow).
We’ve calculated our basic s’mores graham cracker and marshmallow at 90 calories. The chocolate remained at 55 and the peanut butter, one thin layer, measured in at 40 calories. So, this scrumptious treat uses 185 calories of your daily allotment. Totally worth it!
2. Cherry Pie Filling With Dark Chocolate
Next up? Cherry pie filling with a dark chocolate candy bar. “Very Jerry Garcia,” from the Gen X fan of Ben & Jerry’s.
“If this was raspberry, oh yeah,” from the baby boomer. That would be worth checking out.
“With wine?” I asked. She tipped her glass to me, sipped, tipped her head. “Even better.”
From the Millennial, “Better with less cherry.”
Warning: This concoction did make the biggest mess, so take care in adding the cherry topping. If you take a teaspoon and put it on one side only, and flip the marshmallow, chocolate, and other graham cracker on top, there will be less to clean from your hands.
Calorie Check: Graham crackers, marshmallow, chocolate square: 145 calories. A teaspoon of cherry pie filling calculates at 30 calories. Only 175 calories! I’d plan on it a few times a week if I built fires that frequently. This could become a regular habit without much effort!
3. Fun-Size 3 Musketeers Candy Bar
We realized these candy bars may not melt easily from the heat provided by the marshmallow alone and considered slicing them in half, lengthwise.
We were right. The 3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, and Snickers bars we tried did not melt completely.
It became obvious that we needed to make the point to take a bite to sample all three — bar, marshmallow, and graham cracker — to get an accurate representation of flavor.
The whipped chocolate of the three musketeers bar added a little lightness to the overall taste and blended most easily with the marshmallow.
Pro Tip: Slice the fun-size candy bars in half, length-wise, for best taste combination.
Calorie Check: Graham cracker and marshmallow: 90 calories. Fun Size 3 Musketeers Bar: 65 calories. Just 155 calories. Only 10 more calories for the additional lightness in flavor and texture. And only 122.5 calories if you cut the bar in half. Hmm…
4. Fun-Size Baby Ruth Candy Bar
The Baby Ruth provided a fuller body flavor to the s’mores.
“I like that” — from the Baby Boomer who doesn’t usually like this candy bar.
As a Baby Ruth fan, I, too, enjoyed this one. The younger participants found it a little harder to chew through, though.
Calorie Check: Graham cracker and marshmallow: 90 calories. Fun Size Baby Ruth Bar: 85 calories. 175 calories total.
5. Fun-Size Butterfinger Candy Bar
“Crunchy,” said Patti, “I like it,” as she tried a bite of the Butterfinger s’more. Surprising, as this is a candy she doesn’t typically like.
“Not a big fan,” said Jackie as she tried her Butterfinger s’more.
Evenly split among the crowd, the harder core to this candy bar makes it a take-it-or-leave-it option. Try it and see for yourself.
Calorie Check: Graham cracker and marshmallow: 90 calories. Fun-size Butterfinger Bar: 85 calories. 175 calories total.
6. Fun-Size Snickers Candy Bar
The Snickers bar made the rest of the s’more components seem redundant, like a fried breaded fish wrapped in a tortilla. Responses on this combo were split down the middle.
“Nutty,” said Jackie. “It’s okay, but I like the others better.”
“The Baby Ruth is softer than the Snickers,” I contributed. “I don’t think the Snickers adds too much — it makes the graham cracker seem redundant somehow.”
Calorie Check: Graham cracker and marshmallow: 90 calories. Fun Size Snickers Bar: 80 calories. 170 calories total.
7. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
A Reese’s peanut butter cup, we figured, would be an easy win with the benefits of peanut butter without the need for additional chocolate. Surprisingly, it was not as good as the peanut butter and chocolate added separately, but it was the third favorite of the night overall.
Calorie Check: Graham cracker and marshmallow: 90 calories. Peanut butter cup: 105 calories. 195 calories total.
8. Cherry Pie Filling (Without Chocolate)
Finally, cherry pie filling alone. No chocolate, just cherry, marshmallow, and graham cracker. While messy, it tasted better than the one with chocolate to the group overall.
Everyone liked it.
My favorite response came from my fellow Gen Xer: “I like it. It’s a punch of sweetness to my face.”
Calorie Check: Graham cracker and marshmallow: 90 calories. Cherry pie filling: 30 calories. 120 calories total makes this a great sweet treat.
9. Chocolate With Almonds
We went back to the original, with dark chocolate or milk chocolate with almonds. Both good, but, after the combinations we’d just had, no longer our favorites.
Calorie Check: Graham cracker and marshmallow: 90 calories. Chocolate with Almonds: 55 calories. 145 calories total.
While we all agreed they were good, our favorite was clearly the addition of a thin layer of peanut butter to the graham cracker beneath the chocolate.
We had a great time joining friends outdoors on a cool, starry night for this experiment on a childhood classic.
My favorite phrase of the night, “Can we do more articles about food?” (from Jackie). “I’m happy to taste-test for you.”
Maybe we’ll try variations on your mother’s root beer float next. Kahlua, anyone?
Pro Tips For Enjoying S’mores
- Keep baby wipes handy to clean sticky fingers.
- Roast one or two marshmallows at a time for best results. The chocolate treats melt better with fresh-from-the-fire marshmallows.
- Whether to slow-roasting or quick-fire our marshmallows to crystallize the outer segment was answered as much by the fire pit as by us. No marshmallows were burnt, so this factor played little or no part in altering the overall taste.
- If you try this at home or on your next camping trip, have designated marshmallow roasters for fastest compilation.