S'mores bar cookies to keep you warm all winter

By Charleen - February 05, 2023

For many people, making S'mores at a campfire with family and friends is a cherished summer/fall memory. Patience is the key to uniformly toasted marshmallows with soft gooey centers that serve to melt the chocolate when squished between sweet graham crackers. These Nutella S'mores bars are the perfect treat to recreate the warmth and carefree fun of summer nights all through the winter. Plus, they hit all the perfect notes for Valentine's Day!

A Love2Chow Chocolate Hazelnut (Nutella) S'More Bar
Topped with Hershey's chocolate after removing from the oven

Campfire S'mores

I did not learn about S'mores until after I had graduated from college. Camping did not figure prominently in my childhood, as I grew up roller skating the silky smooth sidewalks of Los Angeles county. I was introduced to S'mores during a visit with my sister in North Carolina, but at the time, I was more impressed with the pulled pork barbecue with its cider vinegar sauce, and did not think too much of marshmallows.
Toasted marshmallows, part of a Hershey, bottom graham cracker - awaiting the top cracker

The combination of Hershey's bar, graham crackers and toasted marshmallows took on a new meaning after I enjoyed one made with a perfectly toasted pair of marshmallows, the thin golden crust barely holding together the molten, oozy, drooping inner marshmallow -- hot enough to melt chocolate. My husband, a connoisseur of everything sugary and sweet, had perfected slow marshmallow toasting in little oven-like spaces away from the flame.
Browning marshmallows are starting to droop as the insides warm up

So the kids grew up making S'mores over a campfire, and sometimes over the hot coals left after we were done grilling burgers. 
Smashed between graham crackers, the marshmallow melts the chocolate next to it
Got marshmallows, but no chocolate? We found ourselves in that situation on a kayak camping trip. A nice fat pretzel stick can be used to remove the hot marshmallows from the toasting stick, and adds a surprisingly satisfying salty crunch that complements the gooey toasted marshmallows. 

S'mores Bar Cookies

My husband and daughter love to bake, while my son and I prefer salty, crunchy, fried. But with all those camping trips growing up, it was not surprising at all, when my daughter identified a recipe for Nutella S'mores bars that they had to try out. 
Making the triple batch

Of course, they immediately modified it because you cannot have a proper S'more without Hershey's chocolate!!

One sticking point was that we had become a palm-oil free household. After my daughter learned about the exploitative manner by which palm oil is grown commercially, and its harmful environmental effects, we really could not justify buying Nutella (and most brands of peanut butter).

Thankfully, we discovered that it was really quite easy to make your own chocolate-hazelnut spread, modifying a rather salty recipe from Christie Matheson at The Splendid Table

Homemade Nutella

The easiest way to make this is using roasted, unsalted whole hazelnuts, which are available from Trader Joe's. Otherwise, you can buy raw hazelnuts and toast them yourself.

1 cup unsalted, roasted hazelnuts
12 oz (w) milk chocolate, chopped (we like the German chocolate Milka)
2 Tbs vegetable oil (canola or safflower)
3 Tbs powdered confectioners' sugar
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (we use Ghirardelli)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/4-1/2 tsp coarse or kosher salt, to taste

1. If desired, rub the nuts in a kitchen towel to remove loose skin. 
    a. If using raw hazelnuts, toast for 10-12 min at 350°F -- remove, cool, and taste a nut to determine if it has lost its rawness.

2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler gently over simmering water and stir until smooth. Let the chocolate cool until it is lukewarm.

3. Grind hazelnuts in a 3-5 cup food processor until finely ground to a paste-like consistency (See note). Add oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Process until the mixture is as smooth as you like. Add melted chocolate, using a silicon spatula to get every last bit, and blend well. Do not worry if the spread seems thin or somewhat runny. It will thicken as it cools.

4. Store at room temperature.  It will keep for up to 2 weeks but will likely not last that long. The recipe makes just under 2 cups.

🐾 Note: Our 25 year old mini-food processor finally died last winter. Using a KitchenAid 5 cup food chopper with its extra sharp blade, we achieved a finely cut nut powder, and the finished product has slight texture that we enjoy. I believe that using a blunter grinding/milling blade will make it easier to achieve a paste at this step for a smoother final consistency, and will update after we get a chance to try it using the Cuisinart 4 cup food processor. 
Homemade Nutella (Chocolate-Hazelnut spread)

Making S'Mores Bars

With the key ingredients gathered, it's time to make S'More's bars!  We prefer the texture and taste of Marshmallow Fluff over that of the Jet-Puffed brand, although either can be used. 

Layering marshmallow fluff over the chocolate hazelnut and graham cracker crust

The first recipe we tried was from from The Recipe Critic (who seems to have modified it from The Great Island Blog by reducing the vanilla extract). But there was not enough marshmallow for our tastes, considering the relative ratios in a real S'More. And from the beginning, we added Hershey's rectangles to the top after they come out of the oven. The heat of the bars melts the chocolate on.

The taste and texture was so delicious that we went out and bought more 8-inch square metal pans and tripled the recipe, making sure to add extra Marshmallow Fluff as the initial batch did not have enough.  These bars were a big hit at our annual kayak river camping trip, and is one of my favorite baked treats.

Love2Chow Chocolate Hazelnut S'Mores Bars

~140 g graham crackers (one sleeve of 9 crackers, or half a box of Honey Maid)
1 cup + 2 Tbs all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp Penzey's Mexican Vanilla Extract
1 cup Homemade Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
4-5 oz (w) Marshmallow Fluff
1.33 Hershey's milk chocolate bars (standard 43 g size), separated into 16 small rectangles

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving "handles" to lift out of pan.

2. Pulse graham crackers in food processor until finely ground. Add to a bowl with the flour and salt. 

3. Cream the sugar into the butter. Add vanilla. Mix this into the dry ingredients. 

4. Press 1/2 to 2/3 of the dough into bottom of pan. Spread with Nutella. Add generous spoonfuls of marshmallow fluff, making sure each 2-inch square will have some. Cover with remaining dough, making sure some marshmallow peeks through.

5. Bake 28-30 min and remove from oven. Top with 16 small rectangles of Hershey milk chocolate with the writing facing upwards. Residual heat will melt them on. 

6. Let cool in pan for at least 30 min, and carefully lift out, using parchment, onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature with a glass of milk. 

🐾 Love2Chow Tips: Placing the chocolate rectangles at an angle will help them fit better. 

🍃 Make your own Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, or buy the Costco version that does not use palm oil to help save the rainforests. 


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