Summertime immediately conjures up images of the camp fire, jamborees, kumbaya echoing off the trail, and of course, scary stories being told over toasted marshmallows, sandwiched into s’mores. One of the creepiest campfire stories I’ve heard goes like this…
It was a cold and rainy day in March. I went to Kristoff’s where I usually get my hair done but Kristoff wasn’t there. He had mysteriously disappeared. In his place was a stranger named Rinaldo. I’ll never forget him. His eyes were steely gray. His hands were like ice. He said, “I’ll streak your hair and I’ll give you a body wave.” He worked very fast and then, as he turned my chair around to face the mirror, I saw it. He permed me!
NOOOOOOOO!!!! I know, the horror, right? This little anecdote is from one of the best summer movies ever (high praise, I know, but completely earned) Troop Beverly Hills. It follows the wilderness incompetent Troop Beverly Hills as they try to earn patches and sell cookies to make it to the jamboree. The villains are the deliciously titled Culver City Red Feathers, there are fashion shows, a baby Jenni Lewis as the main kid, and old school Craig T. Nelson rocking the OG dad bod. So much body hair.
But the best part of the movie has to be Shelly Long’s hysterical performance as Phyllis Nefler. Between her cigarette holder and designer khaki uniform, she’s like if Patton stumbled into Dynasty. Her indefatigable optimism pushes the troop past every obstacle, always in style. Plus, there’s dialogue like this:
Phyllis: Oh, what glorious patches!
Jamie: Thank you, ma’am.
Phyllis: Where can I buy them?
Cleo: Ma’am, you don’t buy them, you earn them.
Phyllis: Oh! Like jewelry!
Inspired by the blend of scouting and shopping, I created a Troop Beverly Hills S’more. Champagne marshmallows, chocolate sables, candied kumquats, and obviously, GOLD. These are decadent, and more appropriate in the Polo Lounge than the great outdoors, but still so fun. Enjoy!
For one 9 x 13 inch baking pan of marshmallows
about 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup hot water, divided
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup champagne
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Oil bottom and sides of a 13 by 9 inch rectangular metal baking pan and heavily dust the bottom and sides with some powdered sugar.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, pour in a ½ cup hot water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let it stand for about 10 minutes.
In a medium heavy saucepan combine the white sugar, corn syrup, and remaining hot water over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240 degrees, after about 12 minutes. A word to the wise, this happens very very quickly. While I turned around to tidy up, the entire batch jumped to 275 and burned, so once the thermometer reads 200, keep a close watch, and take it off the heat when it reaches 238. The thermometer should still creep up to 240 after that. Remove the pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
With the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed until pale white, thick and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer. In a large bowl separately beat the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Add the whites, champagne, and vanilla extract into the sugar mixture until it is just combined (about 2 minutes). Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and sift a thin layer of powdered sugar evenly over top. Let the marshmallow set uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to 1 day.
Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto large cutting board. Lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallows into roughly 1-inch cubes. Sift remaining powdered sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Marshmallow keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
INGREDIENTS (CHCOLATE SABLES)
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup grated or finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
Gold Leaf, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F. With a mixer on medium speed, blend together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the mixer gradually on a low speed. Add the vanilla and chocolate and blend until the dough becomes a rich, dark brown. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (the dough will keep, wrapped in plastic, for up to one week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer)
Roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured work surface into a 6-by-7-inch rectangle. Using a ruler, square the edges as much as possible. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch squares. Place them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes and cool completely on a rack. Build the s’more and sprinkle with gold leaf.
INGREDIENTS (KUMQUAT JAM)
1 pound kumquats
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Boil together until syrupy. Pour off and seal.