Recently, my friend Katherine Duncan of Katherine Anne Confections posted an article from the Sun Times, which featured S'mores inspired desserts around town. Given that the S'mores dessert at her confiserie is my favorite, I wanted to check out some of these other variations to see if they matched up. Katherine offered to join in on my research and to check out her fellow competition. I selected three from this list and even discovered one in our travels that was not featured.
Vanille Patisserie (located in the Chicago French Market)
I love Vanille for their beautiful and delicious French pastries, so their S'mores creation was no exception. The gourmet graham bar featured graham cracker streusal with a graham cracker financier - sponge cake, chocolate ganache, and a dark glaze with a housemade marshmallow. It was perfect little treat and beautifully done. We would recommend waiting for this lovely creation to come to room temperature, before enjoying. This dessert is available until the end of the summer.
FliP Crepes (located in Chicago French Market)
The S'mores sweet crepe is made with chocolate, Butterfinger, and marshmallows. We were given a choice of chocolate or Nutella, so obviously we chose Nutellla. Given that Katherine is the marshmallow guru, she asked that the marshmallows be torched a little bit (I am so glad I had her with me!). The crepe was finished as a wrap, so it made it definitely portable, but we felt it was a bit on the chewy side, making it hard to eat. Otherwise, the flavors were pretty good. The switch out for Nutella was a good decision - we highly recommend it.
Beaver Donuts (located in Chicago French Market)
While I was heading over to Vanille, I discovered Beaver Donuts and noticed the S'mores donuts. While they were not on the list, I felt we needed to try them as part of the research. The donuts were little bites topped with chocolate sauce, marshmallow sauce, and graham cracker crumbs. We found these to be not as creative, but still tasty.
The S'mores cupcake is the featured cupcake of the month. It is a honey graham cake with chocolate filling and a meringue topping. We have to say that we were very disappointed with this version. The cake was dry and not very moist - a key component to a good cupcake. What would have made this cupckae better is if the filling was torched marshmallows and chocolate. Needless to say, we were okay with not finishing it.
After trying all of these creations, Vanille's was my favorite on this research expedition. However, Katherine's S'mores, also featured in the article, wins hands down. Not only it is delicious, but it is creative in its use of ingredients to capture this childhood campfire treat. Her version is a salted caramel S'more that is chocolate covered. It starts with a graham cracker from Beurrage Bakery, layered with salted caramel gananche, topped with a toasted black pepper house marshmallow, dipped in bittersweet chocolate, and garnished with smoked Maldon sea salt. The recipe changes weekly and I love that she sources local ingredients, which is why her desserts are so ridiculous good. Perhaps I may be biased, but I will let you be the judge by trying these creations yourself.