dad?” I’ve written freely and openly about my mom, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents but there is one topic on which I have little to say. I don’t blame people for their curiosity or well-meaning conversation starters, because the question itself is not what bothers me, it’s the answer. The truth is, it’s complicated. And over time became too complicated until – Enough.
But before it was too complicated there was some good. There’s his story about attending the March on Washington, teaching me the words to all of Simon & Garfunkel’s, CSNY’s and the Beatles’ songs and hikes to the top of Stone Mountain and Hanging Rock in North Carolina. There was the time he pulled an all-nighter to super glue and paste stickers on an exact replica of Disney’s Main Street that Santa was supposed to bring. Years spent working at a men’s clothing shop made him the best gift wrapper around and I’ll never forget the time he belted out the entire French national anthem while watching the Olympics.
My sister and I spent several weekends learning the ins and outs of camping at his side. Collecting firewood, skipping rocks and wiping sticky marshmallow residue from under dirty fingernails as we bit into our third s’more (or “Sh’moore” as my sister would say in her best Sean Connery impression.) In the morning we’d watch in awe as he whipped up a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes with little more than a campfire and single propane burner.
And then people change – sometimes for good, sometimes not, and sometimes to such a degree that they become unrecognizable. Though ugliness seemed to win out in the end, I try to focus on the good no matter how small. So this recipe is my take on a childhood favorite with a decidedly adult point of view. Feel free to poke fun at my retro use of store bought fluff here but when you’re making your own ice cream, fluff from scratch is a low priority.
S’mores Ice Cream Tart
This recipe is so simple it’s almost a non-recipe. A basic graham cracker crust topped with softened chocolate ice cream and toasted marshmallow fluff is a combination that you can make as difficult or as easy as you like. For those lacking an ice cream maker, store bought chocolate ice cream will definitely work – though the homemade variety packs an extra chocolate-y punch.
For the crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
Ice cream adapted from David Lebovitz
8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
2 Tbs cognac (for texture, optional)
1 jar marshmallow fluff
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and toss to combine. Lightly coat a tart pan with nonstick spray and pour in the graham cracker mixture. With the bottom of a small, flat measuring cup or glass press firmly along the bottom and up the sides to distribute the crust. Bake until deeply golden and firm, about 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool completely.
2. For the ice cream, in a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water combine the cream and milk chocolate. Stir frequently until chocolate is completely melted. In a separate saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, sugar and salt and stir until the sugar dissolves. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks and slowly temper the mixture by adding the warmed milk, a 1/4 cup at a time, to the yolks. After adding about 1 cup, whisk the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Pour the thickened custard through a strainer and into the chocolate cream mixture and stir in the cognac. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
3. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. When the ice cream reaches the consistency of soft serve, spoon it into the pre-cooked graham cracker crust and spread evenly. Freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 4 hours. Once firm, spread marshmallow fluff on top of ice cream filling. Occasionally dipping your knife or spatula in a bowl of warm water will keep the fluff from sticking and make it easier to spread. Return the tart to the freezer until ready to serve.
4. Just before serving, remove the tart from the pan and place on serving platter. Using a small culinary torch* gently toast the marshmallow topping and serve immediately.
*Note: If you do not own a culinary torch, quick trips under the broiler will give you a lightly toasted look. Be careful! If the ice cream begins to run, return the tart to the freezer immediately.