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Smoked Chocolate, For National S'More Day And More

It's National S'more Day, so you've got a good reason to indulge in the gooey goodness.

But what if you're nowhere near a campfire? How can you replicate the taste of a chocolate-marshmallow-graham cracker s'more fired up and fashioned en plein air?

Autumn Martin has a solution: Smoke the chocolate chips, create a s'more cookie. At her bakery in Seattle, Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, she does just that. "The taste of a campfire," she swears.

Smoking has been a way of cooking and preserving food for about as long as man has been cooking with fire. Native Americans smoked fish. Jews smoke brined meat and made pastrami. Then there's the smoked brisket of the American South.

Martin grew up with smoked meats in Brier, Wash. Her dad is a woodworker who smoked steelhead, deer and bear. "I love the process. I love the flavor," she says.

And even though the technique is usually associated with savory foods, early on in her culinary career, Martin decided there had to be something a pastry chef could do.

It took her awhile to get the hang of it. Martin once tried smoking orange slices and failed — she says they tasted terrible. But at Seattle's Theo Chocolate, where she was head chocolatier, she melted and smoked chocolate for a creation she christened the Big Daddy: Handmade graham cracker crust, vanilla-infused caramel and a marshmallow, all covered in chocolate and drizzled with a smoked chocolate flourish.

When she struck out on her own, she knew she wanted to keep smoking chocolate, but it had to be different.

She opted to use a cold smoking process, the way one would go about making say, lox. Heat is still involved because, well, you can't make smoke without fire. But the food is neither cooked nor heated, which is what Martin wanted. She wanted her chocolate chips intact.

In the smoker Martin uses, alder chips are heated electrically. The smoke is then captured and diverted via tube, which cools it down. The smoke is then redirected into a different container where chocolate chips lie on racks.

She smokes 40 pounds of chocolate chips at a time in a process that takes between five and seven hours. After trying hickory wood ("too bitter") and cherry ("too tangy"), she settled on alder.

"It's very subtle but still smoky," she says.

Back at Hot Cakes, where she sells pitchers of milk as well as grilled chocolate sandwiches, her s'more cookie is listed for sale with a special "Thank you!" to the Girl Scouts.

The exact origin of the s'more is unknown, but its invention and popularization is largely credited to the Girl Scouts, says spokeswoman Michelle Tomkins.

A 1927 book, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, actually features a "Some More" recipe. Here's an excerpt:

8 bars plain chocolate ("any of the good plain brands")

16 marshmallows

8 sticks

Toast two marshmallows over the coals to a crisp gooey state and then put them inside a graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich.

Though it tastes like "some more," one is really enough.

Which prompts the question: Why don't the Girl Scouts make a s'more cookie?

No one in the Girl Scouts organization has yet figured out how to mass produce a proper-tasting s'more cookie for sale, says Tomkins, — unless you count the s'more cookie by Autumn Martin, former member of Girl Scout Troop 1492 back in Brier.

Copyright 2012 KPLU-FM. To see more, visit http://www.kplu.org.

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