Happy 4th of July!!! We’re celebrating with a s’mores parfait complete with graham cracker streusel, chocolate custard and toasted meringue topping!
For some reason, s’mores always seem like a good 4th of July dessert. This isn’t the first appearance of a s’mores around 4th of July, and with this repeat offender, you would think we make them every 4th of July. We don’t have any tradition of eating s’mores on 4th of July, but I associate both 4th of July and s’mores with relaxation, and therefore, think they would go well together. It’s way too hot in Georgia, where we go every 4th of July, to have a bonfire and roast marshmallows, so I made a cooler version in the form of a chocolate custard s’mores parfait that could be enjoyed at any time of the year.
In order to get the full flavor of the s’mores parfait, you have to taste all of the layers together. The graham cracker streusel is crumbly and sweet, the chocolate layer is thick and rich, and the meringue is light and fluffy. Sandy, smooth and airy layers, all provide different textures, which makes each bite great.
We use bittersweet chocolate to make the custard deep and dark, and espresso powder to bring out the chocolate flavor. It is rich rich rich, but amazing. When I was testing this (all in the name of research and pictures, of course) I kept telling myself I would just take one more bite. One more bite, one more bite. I was halfway through the glass in a matter of seconds. Each bite of the chocolate filling made me want another. The graham cracker streusel and the meringue balance out the dark chocolate custard, and the layers meld together in your mouth to form that familiar, but elevated, s’mores flavor.
Make this s’mores parfait for your hot 4th of July celebrations, or later in the summer when you need an impressive but comfortable sweet treat for a dinner party.
Layered S’mores Jar
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
½ cup whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose too, but this provides a more nutty flavor)
about 2/3 cup graham crumbs from about 3 sheets crushed graham crackers
¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon vanilla
4 ½ tablespoons butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the whole wheat flour, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, vanilla, and flour in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the butter and quickly break it up with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Spread the streusel on the baking sheet in an even layer and freeze for 10 minutes.
Remove the tray from the freezer and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Spoon the streusel evenly into eight ramekins or cups (the number may change based on the size of your cups. I used four large cups, but they probably should be made in smaller cups/portions because they are so rich).
Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Best-Ever Desserts
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¾ cup half and half
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and place a fine-mesh sieve or strainer on top of the bowl; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Add the heavy cream and half and half and whisk to combine. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the mixture thickens and is silky in texture (it should reach 175 to 180 degrees F on a thermometer), 8 to 12 minutes. Keep the heat low enough so that the mixture does not reach simmering.
Immediately pour the custard through the sieve over the chocolate. Let it stand for 5 minutes, then gently whisk the mixture until it is smooth and no lumps remain.
In a small bowl, stir together the water and instant espresso powder until the espresso powder is dissolved. Add the espresso mixture and the vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
Divide the custard evenly between the ramekins, on top of the graham streusel. Gently tap the ramekins against the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Allow the custard to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream or meringue right before serving (recipe follows).
4 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
Just before serving make the meringue. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat again. With mixer running, gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon the meringue on top of the ramekins in even piles. Using kitchen torch, toast the meringue until it is golden in spots or place the ramekins under the broiler for 1 minute, being careful to watch it so it doesn’t burn (it goes quickly).