I had this idea for s’mores waffle cones last summer, but never got around to figuring out how to put it all together. The idea was to have a light, toasted marshmallow flavored ice cream, inside a graham cracker flavored waffle cone, then somehow get a chocolate flavor in the middle somewhere.
So that was the basic idea that I started working on last week. I tackled the ice cream first and went through several batches until I found a combination I was happy with. I wanted to keep the texture light, so ideally it wouldn’t have any eggs in it.
For inspiration here I started with the base ice cream mix found in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. She omits eggs, instead boiling the milk, cream and sugar mixture, smoothing the texture with a bit of cream cheese and corn syrup, then adding corn starch to reduce ice crystal formation. I’ve made quite a few batches of ice cream using her recipes and have been really pleased with them. Unfortunately there was no toasted marshmallow ice cream recipe in the book so I had to figure that out.
The main issue was how to get the toasted marshmallow flavor in to the milk. I first started by toasting regular marshmallows then adding them to milk to let it infuse in the refrigerator for several hours. This made a strongly flavored toasted marshmallow milk, but once frozen the flavor was too muted. So I moved to mini marshmallows to increase the surface area available for toasting. I used a butane torch to toast them, but the oven broiler would work fine. And as I found, don’t be afraid to get some a little charred. I was initially afraid it would turn the ice cream bitter, but it actually helps in bringing in a little more of the real s’mores flavor.
A glance at the ingredients list on the bag of marshmallows shows they’re mainly sugar, corn syrup and corn starch. In other words, things that were already in the base ice cream recipe. So I decided to add the whole toasted marshmallows in to the mix. This let me reduce the sugar in the base recipe as well as leave out the corn syrup and corn starch. I just scooped up the whole toasted gooey mess and scraped it in to the blender with the cream cheese and blended on low speed until it turned in to a nice toasted marshmallow cream.
The next step was the graham cracker waffle cone. This took a few attempts to get right. Almost all the recipes I looked at for the cones were the same: egg whites, cream, sugar, butter and flour. A regular waffle cone recipe gets crispy as soon as it cools. But I wanted the graham cracker flavor so I initially used straight graham flour,which is an even coarser version of whole wheat flour, along with brown sugar and molasses. Unfortunately it seemed that the extra density of the flour kept it from getting crisp. It remained fairly soft and more waffle like (graham flour waffles — an idea I might come back to). So to lighten it up I substituted 1/3 of the graham flour for cake flour and mixed the brown sugar with regular white sugar.
The final step was the chocolate. My initial idea was to coat the inside of the cone with chocolate. This didn’t work too well for two reasons. One, the cones are really fragile and broke easily while trying to get the inside evenly coated with chocolate. More significantly, the toasted marshmallow ice cream turns out to be quite a delicate flavor. Having that much chocolate in every bite really overwhelmed the flavor. Instead, I opted instead for just a drizzle of a chocolate sauce mixed in to the ice cream. You don’t get chocolate in every bite, just enough to know it’s there without smothering the marshmallow flavor.
So, bottom line, does it taste like a frozen s’more? Not really. The frozen texture of the ice cream is completely different from a freshly melted marshmallow. The butter and brown sugar in the crispy waffle cone gives it more of a deep, almost toffee flavor, compared to the familiar taste of a crunchy graham cracker. And the fudge ripple isn’t the same as a barely melted bite of a Hershey’s bar. But, all that aside, it is really delicious and a bit reminiscent of actual s’mores. I was especially impressed with how the toasty flavor of the marshmallows came through in the ice cream and it really works nicely with that buttery flavor in the waffle cones. I think this is one I’ll keep on the summertime treat list.