Gourmet S'mores Desserts

Your summer camp crush is back (and all grown up)

Like Route 66 or robust tax refunds, summer camp is an American ideal. You don't need firsthand experience to be familiar with such cultural exports as s'mores, the handheld dessert composed of fire-toasted marshmallows, industrial chocolate (usually Hershey's, though off-brand renditions are virtually indistinguishable) and graham crackers. The result is texturally compelling and sweet to the point of being saccharine—thus a befitting partner to homespun lanyards and folksy sing-alongs.

Those whose camp days have passed them by need weep not for the memories: Acclaimed chefs at restaurants nationwide are reimagining the classic confection with inventive presentations and top-quality ingredients.

As anyone who has endeavored to make heritage-breed fried chicken or $14 slices of toast can attest, elevating Americana is tricky business. Rather than relying on simple nostalgia, next-wave s'mores combine cutting-edge techniques and components to create something both brand new and utterly familiar. Here are five ways to fall in love with s'mores all over again.

This month, we're taking you Beyond BBQ into the deep, dark, drool-worthy corners of the 'cue world, from Seoul to South Carolina. Smoke will get in your eyes (and your cocktail) as we explore the best pits, tips, roasts and rigs—you might even see a vegetable or two along the way.

Emily Saladino is a journalist, cook and recipe developer based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @emilysaladino and Instagram at @emilyjsaladino.

Marsh House

(Nashville, TN)

New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh pairs Bayou seafood with an impressive wine collection and showstopping desserts at this sparkling space in the Gulch's new Thompson hotel. The rather epic s'mores doughnut plate tops fritters with an elegant quenelle of house-made roasted marshmallow ice cream and ganache from Olive & Sinclair, an East Nashville cult chocolatier.

Photo: Andrea Behrends


(Brooklyn, NY)

The marshmallows are homemade and the crackers are from Runner & Stone, but the chocolate is Hershey's at this James Beard Award-nominated joint helmed by Blue Hill alum Greg Braxton. Locals and tourists alike convene in Olmsted's picturesque backyard (complete with string lights, wood benches and a warbling quail) to roast s'mores atop personal charcoal fires. In the winter, Pendleton blankets are also available.

Photo: Evan Sung

L'Oca d'Oro

(Austin, TX)

The name of this newcomer translates to "golden goose," and chef Fiore Tedesco (an alum of Austin's Franklin Barbecue and Roberta's in Brooklyn) brings a smart touch to inventive Italian dishes, like bucatini with fennel-saffron soffritto and crowd-pleasing eggplant Parmesan with foccacia croutons. For those hoping to end meals on a gilded note, desserts frequently include a towering s'mores tartufo, featuring chocolate-topped hazelnut and caramel gelato within a gooey shell of toasted marshmallow cream.

Photo: L'Oca d'Oro

Bourbon Steak

(Washington, D.C.)

Bartenders suggest pairing a 20-year tawny port with smoked s'mores at the Georgetown outpost of Michael Mina's clubby steakhouse (additional locations are in Miami, Nashville, Scottsdale, Santa Clara and Los Angeles). Embers from the wood-burning oven smoke marshmallows beneath a glass cloche, and the dish arrives at the table with chocolate praline mousse, toasted hazelnut ice cream and hazelnut streusel.

Photo: Four Seasons Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Outlook Kitchen + Bar

(Boston, MA)

Pastry chef Kim Darisse does retro right at this Cuban-accented new American restaurant in the Seaport's Envoy Hotel. Her crowd-pleasing Campfire Torte combines graham cracker–crusted chocolate ganache with candied hazelnuts, chocolate shavings and toasted meringue; it's served alongside a smoke-filled mason jar containing an airy house-made marshmallow.

Photo: Outlook Kitchen + Bar