Vegan Smores (How To Make the Best Vegan Smore)
There are many things that make summer summer. There’re activities like swimming and hiking, but we do still do those some during the year. There’re places like the beaches and mountains, but we still get to go to those during the year. There’re foods like watermelon and hot dogs (vegan, of course), but we still enjoy those during the year too. The one food that we really do not get to enjoy (at least the traditional way by a campfire) outside of summer is smores. To us, smores is the most special summertime treat. And, we do love our smores. Sticky and gooey and melty and delicious. It’s a party of flavor blends in your mouth. Yes, we do each sometimes make a version of smores in a toaster oven at home, but that’s not real smores. Even on Passover, we got together and made kind of a smores with marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between matzah, but it wasn’t the same without the campfire. Smores is smores and nothing else is really smores. But, what makes smores smores? For those who are not quite sure, we thought you’d enjoy this article on how to make smores and especially how to make the best vegan smores. Let us tell you smore. Oh, and yes, the word “smore” is a blend of the words “some” and “more” because a smore is more than just a roasted marshmallow (which of course we love too), and once you try it you’ll want smore.
There are basically two different ways to make traditional campfire smores. One style originated on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, although the West Coast seems to have taken over most of the country’s smores making. As far as we have been able to find out, smores began with Girl Scouts in the Poconos in the 1920s. Their first smores were made East Coast style. Some Girl Scouts groups still do it that way and some do it West Coast style. The smores that began on the West Coast seem to have started with Girl Scouts groups in California in the 1960s.
The first smores on the East Coast began with needing graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, aluminum foil, and fire tongs. Once we have a good campfire going, we start by taking a piece of foil and placing two graham crackers on it side by side. Then, we put marshmallow on one of the crackers. Next, we put chocolate on top of the marshmallow. After that, we put the other graham cracker on top of the chocolate. We wrap the foil around the stack to fully cover it but not too tight that it will be hard to open later. We each place our foil wraps on or around the campfire, maybe move it around a little, wait patiently for it to have time to melt, which we can sometimes tell from the delicious smell, remove it from the fire, and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Finally, we unwrap and enjoy the melty goodness. That’s an East Coast style smore, everything melted together in a foil wrapped scrumptious smores sandwich.
The West Coast style smores do not need the aluminum foil or the tongs but need marshmallow roasting sticks instead. These smores are easier to make and neater to eat. We each place a marshmallow on a marshmallow stick long enough for the marshmallow to reach in the fire and for us to stand further away from the fire. Once the marshmallow is toasted golden brown or more if we prefer, we step away from the fire. We then pull the marshmallow off of the stick in between two graham crackers. Next, we open up the top graham cracker and put chocolate on the hot marshmallow to kind of have a heat transfer to melt the chocolate at least a little bit. After that, we replace the removed top graham cracker and smoosh it together a little. That helps the chocolate get a little more melty. While this way not everything melts as much, it is easier to hold and eat. And, finally we do eat and enjoy the delicious blend of marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers. That’s a West Coast style smore. Again, scrumptious.
At camp, we get to try making our smores both ways. Even though the Vegan Camps are on the West Coast and even most on the east coast now follow the west coast way, most of us campers have decided we like the East Coast way better. We’re pretty split about which marshmallows we most like to use. We love Chicago Vegan Foods’ Dandies which are perfect for the West Coast style (and we also love them when we are just roasting marshmallows to eat straight. Dandies are really the perfect vegan marshmallows. For the East Coast style, we sometimes use Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme which makes it so easy and perfect too. We are so glad that these two companies make such great vegan products for us to be able to enjoy.
For chocolate, there are too many good companies to mention. Camp usually uses vegan chocolate from Trader Joe’s but there are plenty of others that would work just as good. For the West Coast style, we have the one pound vegan chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s. They are easy to break into good size chunks for these smores. For the East Coast style we can use the same chocolate bar chunks or sometimes we even use the vegan chocolate chips. They melt even more that way. Really any vegan chocolate can work really well, and we are glad that there are so many good choices. (Our favorite vegan chocolate bars are Go Max Go, but those are too special and not just the plain chocolate to put into smores.)
With so many good chocolate choices and the couple of amazing marshmallow products vegan smores are not hard to make, but the hardest ingredient to get is good real graham crackers that are vegan. Sometimes we’ve used amaranth crackers. They worked, but they weren’t really graham crackers. Graham crackers use graham flour that was invented by Sylvester Graham in the 1800s. He even promoted a vegan diet (or totally vegetarian diet he called it) way back then. But most graham crackers today are made with honey, and that makes them not really vegan. Mary’s Gone Crackers has been working the last couple of years on making some, but they are not yet available in the stores. Our Vegan Camp has been able to get some samples from them, and they have really been great. We are told that they are not yet in stores since they crack and crumble too easily in the packages. But we handled them carefully and they worked great for us. Also great is that they are gluten free which some of our fellow campers are and camp always makes sure to provide for them. We hope Mary will get them out there for everyone soon. We all really love them. We have also got to use the vegan graham crackers from Grateful Grahams from Kentucky. We especially love the flavor of them. They are softer and moister than graham crackers but they are very enjoyable. Despite not quite the graham cracker texture, they work good for both the East Coast and West Coast smores.
We can’t wait for the next summer to make vegan smores at Vegan Camp again. We’re sure that the camp will be ready for us with plenty of vegan graham crackers from Grateful Grahams and maybe vegan graham crackers from Mary’s Gone Crackers, vegan chocolate from Trader Joe’s or other companies, vegan Ricemellow creme from Suzanne’s Kitchen, and Dandies vegan marshmallows from Chicago Vegan Foods. Kids from all around the country and even some from other countries get to make vegan smores together at Vegan Camp. Kids, join us. Parents, send your kids to join us. Everyone else, at least try to go camping, make a campfire, and make your own vegan smores. Be sure to celebrate National Smores Day on August 10th. That about covers it, smore or sless. Enjoy!
Marc and Danny are 11 and 12 years old respectively and are active participants and leaders of Veg Kids ( www.VegKids.org) based in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles and love going to the Camp Exploration Vegan Camp programs ( www.CampExploration.org & www.VeganCamp.org) where they get to make the best vegan smores. Special thanks to Andy Mars, Ph.D. for sharing Marc and Danny’s recipe and advise! Be sure to celebrate National Smores Day on August 10, 2015!