I was away from home at Brownie camp when I first learned to cook something on my own. I was 6.

My first marshmallow caught fire, and quickly blistered and charred until it looked like a lump of coal stuck to the end of my stick. Being the stubborn kid that I was, I quickly sandwiched it between a graham cracker and chocolate and gobbled it down. It wasn’t the best s’more of my life, but it was a start.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Now I’m “Snowy Owl” of my local Brownie group, and having toasted hundreds of marshmallows during my camping career, I now consider myself somewhat of an expert.

The perfect toasted marshmallow is all about using the embers. If you stick the marshmallow close to the top of the flames of a campfire, it’ll likely catch fire, or the outside will get all crispy, while the inside is still cold. For the perfect brown marshmallow, you need to constantly turn the marshmallow while it’s a few inches above some red embers. This way, you get a perfectly melted gooey center and a thin crisp coat. When the marshmallow cracks as you squeeze it between some chocolate and crackers, the crack-satisfaction is second only to the times you get to break the top of a creme brulee with a spoon. You know what I mean.

And you have to use good old-fashioned Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallows! None of the nouveau chic homemade kind! Most home-made or bakery-bought marshmallows are square. You’ll never get an even browning. Jet-puffed marshmallows are rounded, so as you turn the marshmallow on the fire, they’ll crisp up evenly. Leave them out of the package for a few days before you go camping and they’ll dry out a bit. This will give you an even crispier crust and chewier inside.

Nowadays, marshmallows are enjoying a renaissance and you can find them being eaten outside of the forests. Earls, a popular chain restaurant in BC, has them in their s’mores on their dessert menu. I’ve seen fancier versions of s’mores at upscale restaurants that are made with home-made marshmallows and gingerbread tuille. Butter, a bakery in Vancouver, sells homemade marshmallows in all sorts of flavours, some rolled in toasted coconut.

But nothing beats a freshly toasted marshmallow that has been lovingly cooked over an open campfire!! Enjoy!

Kathleen

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