The Harbinger Online

Baking Bad: Chai S’mores

When making s’mores, there isn’t much room for interpretation. Sure, you can double up on chocolate or add some peanut butter, but if you’re going the easy route, your s’mores will end up being pretty blasé. I, however, am not a fan of blasé s’mores. No way. If I make s’mores, they would be way better than your typical Hershey’s-Jet-Puff-graham-cracker combo. They’d be practically explosive. Which is why, when I decided my next baking project was going to be s’mores, I knew I had to outdo every other run-of-the-mill s’more that was out there.

Starting out, I knew I would be making my own graham crackers for the s’mores. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been baking, which would have defeated the purpose of the blog. When I first thought of making them chai-flavored, I thought it wouldn’t work out very well (spoiler alert: I was right). But I gave it a shot.

After driving a half hour to the KC River Market and buying authentic loose leaf chai masala tea, I headed to the grocery store to pick up some Hershey’s chocolate bars and some Jet-Puff marshmallows (because ain’t nobody got time to make marshmallows). Upon returning home, I began the process of making my own graham cracker dough.

Making the dough, although much easier than pie dough, still required a large amount of arm strength. Which I lack. Rather than cutting butter into the dough as I did with pie pops, I cheated and used a mixer. Sue me. It was easier. But what wasn’t so easy was actually incorporating the loose leaf tea into the dough. To do that, I had to put 1/4 cup of loose leaf masala chai into a spice grinder and use what small amount of muscle I have to grind the tea into a fine powder. After persuading my parents to take shifts grinding tea, I was able to form the dough into a ball, leaving it to chill in the fridge.

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Once the dough was firm enough, I rolled it out and cut it into 24 small squares, which I then transferred to baking sheets. When faced with the task of designing the crackers, I channeled my inner five-year-old and decorated them with hearts and smiley faces. After several minutes of doodling, when they looked too cute to even eat (well, almost) I plopped the trays into the oven for 20 minutes.

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But here’s where I made my fatal flaw: I didn’t check up on my crackers enough. They baked for far too long, and after cooling, were about as hard to bite through as boulders. And even if I had taken them out in time, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that they didn’t even taste like chai. They tasted like gingerbread, which, while not a bad thing, was not what I was aiming for.

After letting the chai/gingerbread crackers cool, I placed half of them on the baking sheets, plopped one or two marshmallows on top, and put them back in the oven. I set the oven to broil on low so that the marshmallows would brown more quickly, intending to check on them every minute or so. Now, if I hadn’t been unwrapping mini Hershey’s bars while the marshmallows baked, I would have probably remembered to check on the marshmallows more frequently than I did. But I didn’t. So after about three minutes, I remembered the marshmallows and opened the oven to almost-burnt, but still salvageable s’mores. And after shouting several expletives, I placed a chocolate bar on top of each marshmallowed-graham cracker and finished them off with a top cracker. Knowing the taste wouldn’t be as good as I’d hoped, I attempted to improve the s’mores’ appearances with a dusting of powdered sugar. And voila. Chai s’mores.

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Biting into them was a challenge. And that’s a bit of an understatement. It was like biting down onto a stone tablet. And while the gingerbread-flavor wasn’t awful, the flavor of the tea itself was completely lost.

Although I knew I was going to fail something during my baking adventure, I definitely didn’t expect it to be s’mores. And while homemade s’mores sound easy, they’re a bit of a challenge. So if you’re planning on making s’mores, here’s a tip: ditch the homemade graham crackers, and just stick with your Honey Maid’s.

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