He watched it ooze and bubble and grow steadily under the flame, his eyes widening in awe with the rhythm of the melted mess he was creating. This was no ordinary activity. This was the best activity for a cold, cloudy, rainy Wednesday, a day that kept him trapped indoors instead of his usual outdoor setting of trampoline jumping and dog chasing.
Playing with fire was my ten-year old son’s version of being antsy. I needed to redirect, and fast.
“Whatcha doing there?” I asked, feigning as much casualness as my terror instinct allowed.
“Melting a marshmallow,” Son replied, equally unphased.
Black scabs formed on the petrified victim, a super-sized Jet Puffed marshmallow ruthlessly pinned to a fork. My fine bought-in-Italy fork.
This had to end and fast. I had to think of a distraction.
I turned on the television and put his favorite cartoon on. It did nothing to deter him from his pyromania.
I called our puppy, his favorite play thing, and began bouncing his ball around and playing tug of war with him in the cramped kitchen, risking collateral damage all in the hopes of engaging my son.
Flames have a way of mesmerizing him. He was hyperfocused on the destruction of sugar.
“Are you going to eat that?” I asked, desperately.
“Naah. It’s too burnt. I like my marshmallows gooey but good, like we had them at summer camp,” he offered, allowing me a sliver into his and his sister’s coveted secret world of summer camp.
And that is when inspiration hit! Of course! Summer! Marshmallows! S’mores!!!
My genius moment was quickly deflated by the thought that embarking on a s’mores project would inevitably entail more flames for toasting the marshmallows, and as much as I wanted to bring home the joy of summer, there’s a reason they do this stuff at camp and not in my sleek kitchen.
Still, s’mores had invaded my thoughts now. That is the perfect combo of childhood yumminess: melted marshmallows with chocolate and graham crackers. There had to be another way to relive it without possibly burning down the house.
At that point my daughter pounced into the kitchen and looked with horror at the disaster her younger brother was making.
“Mom!” she castigated in the tone of a seasoned caregiver. “Don’t let him do this mess! Make a s’mores pie instead.” And with that, she was gone. A fleeting vision of inspiration. A true moderator. My beloved problem solver had planted her seed and disappeared, back to her Facebook or her Skype or whatever other technological trend had a hold of her 13-year old mind.
‘S’mores pie, of course,’ I grinned. And even my daughter’s brief entrance had made an impression on my son, who, for once, looked up from his fiery disaster.
“Hmmm. That sounds good mom. Let’s do that,” he echoed.
As quickly as a marshmallow turns to a crisp I grabbed my distressed Italian fork from his grasp and turned off the fire that so readily had grasped his attention.
“Let’s put a bunch of marshmallows on the top of the pie and watch them grow in the oven,” I urged, seeing the spark of excitement light anew in my son’s mischievous eyes.
Here is the true recipe, with marshmallow meringue topping including. Fluff is hard to come by in Mexico, so we improvised with marshmallows. Either way is tasty-licious!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 7-ounce jar Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Crème
3 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
Place chocolate chips, butter and vanilla in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt. Whisk in ¼ cup of the heavy cream until the mixture is smooth. Add another ¼ cup of cream and whisk.
Place saucepan over medium heat and slowly whisk in the remaining cream and milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly until mixture thickens. Boil for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and pour the mixture over the reserved chocolate and butter. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Place plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Combine all ingredients and press against the sides and bottom of a 9-inch pie pan.
Spread chocolate filling into crust.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Scrape marshmallow crème into a large bowl. In another large bowl beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and beat until stiff and glossy peaks form. Fold egg whites into the marshmallow crème, stirring just until incorporated. Spread meringue over the top of chocolate filling, swirling with a knife to create peaks.
Bake pie until peaks and ridges of marshmallow meringue are lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Let stand until room temperature.
Chill pie overnight.