S’mores & Scouts
In the arcane world of food holidays, Aug. 10 has become known as National S’mores Day.
Who knows the first person who sandwiched marshmallow and chocolate between two graham crackers. But s’mores certainly seem like a spur-of-the-moment creation around a campfire.
At any rate, they have reached the ripe old age of (at least) 86: The first recipe in print dates to 1927, appearing in the handbook “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.” But there’s evidence they were around years before the recipe was formalized.
It was only a matter of time.
Over the past decade, doughnuts got a re-do, cupcakes made a comeback and pies gained newfound popularity.
Now s’mores seem to have risen as the new shabby chic of retro sweets.
S’mores lovers won’t find many campfires burning in the heat of a Lowcountry summer. But they can find a s’mores scene in Charleston: sophisticated versions of their favorite treat on specialty store shelves and dessert menus.
All are at the ready to help them celebrate National S’mores Day on Saturday.
For Danielle and Tanner Loveless, a penchant for throwing “s’more-gasbord” parties and six weeks on the road in an RV led to a career about-face for her and a new venture dedicated to the business of s’mores.
Last fall, the Mount Pleasant couple launched Haypenny Confections. Two days a week, she and a couple of part-time workers have use of a catering kitchen off Spruill Avenue in North Charleston.
In the artisanal spirit, they are putting their own spin on graham crackers (honey cinnamon) and making marshmallows in 45 flavors, including maple bacon and champagne and strawberries.
For now, Haypenny does not make its own chocolate, but it’s in the plan as the business eventually grows into a larger kitchen.
Haypenny is selling its s’mores for wedding receptions, catered affairs and at some public events. Three flavors — vanilla, bourbon praline and toasted coconut — also are packaged in “kit” form and offered in specialty stores such as The Coastal Cupboard and Mixson Market. (See other retail locations at www.haypennyconfections.com.)
Danielle, 31, was a music teacher for 10 years and has taught locally at both Laing and Knightsville public schools. After three years in the Lowcountry, she left to pursue a master’s degree in music education at the University of Utah. There she met her future husband, Tanner, while both were working at a summer day camp teaching outdoor adventure.
“I was a lifelong music teacher in my mind,” she says. But a bit of serendipity led to a turn of events.
They were planning to move back east and, in the summer of 2011, sold everything they had and bought an old RV. Just before hitting the road for six weeks, they threw their last “s’more-gasbord” for friends. People at the gathering urged them to do something bigger with their s’mores.
The two, with a lot of time to think, traveled to Connecticut, where Danielle’s parents live. While there, she got accepted to graduate school at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. That was the next game plan. He already had a degree in finance.
Meanwhile, they started playing around in the kitchen, making graham crackers and learning the nuances of marshmallows. “We failed miserably the first time. I broke a hand mixer,” she says with a laugh.
“It’s more scientific than you think. There really is a lot of precision involved.”
And then something magical happened.
“It was sort of at that turning point. Neither one of us were really feeling Greensboro, and decided let’s just give it (s’mores) a shot. So we did.”
They had a “destination” wedding in Charleston in May 2012, then moved here in August.
Tanner, 27, found a job at Blackbaud, and Haypenny was incorporated in November.
Danielle’s introduction to s’mores is classic: “In the summers, we’d always go up to New Hampshire,” she says. “One of my best memories is making s’mores at my aunt’s lake house.”
“It’s also a memory that involves lots of people,” she says, which adds to the nostalgic appeal of s’mores.
Haypenny is named for a ha’penny, a Victorian coin worth half a cent. The idea is that “if we failed, we wouldn’t have a ha’penny left to our names,” they joke.
Besides events and catering, Haypenny is turning out about 100 s’mores kits a week (four s’mores per kit, $10).
The food maker has its eye on the future, however, with plans for an online store and a Kickstarter campaign.
“We have other ideas down the road,” Danielle says. “The heart of it is revitalizing classic desserts.”
She adds, “This is not an unhappy business to be in. Everybody loves s’mores.”
Elliotborough is an up-and-coming address in downtown Charleston. Further proof came last month with the arrival of the Warehouse bar at Spring and St. Philip streets. On chef Eva Keilty’s menu are only two desserts, and one of them is a S’mores Torte.
It will set you back $6.50 for this over-the-top s’more that includes a flourless chocolate torte and homemade “nutella”: ground hazelnuts flavored with fruity Disaronno amaretto.
There’s toasty, molten marshmallows and graham crackers in the mix and to gild the lily, clusters of pecan crunch.
The kitchen staff at Voodoo west of the Ashley likes to play with food, and they want you to play with food, too. So they put s’mores on the menu.
“It is food you can have fun with,” says chef Toker Smith.
He’s not kidding, since the dessert has its own tabletop “campfire.”
In the middle of a large plate is a Sterno-fueled mini-grill that you use for roasting the marshmallows.
There’s the requisite Hershey’s chocolate and graham crackers, but for a $2.50 upgrade, you can get bacon and peanut butter, too ($5 regular, $7.50 deluxe).
Reach Features Editor Teresa Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-4886.
The Voodoo Lounge offers a tabletop s’mores experience that comes with bacon and peanut butter if desired.×
Bourbon praline marshmallows are one of 45 s'mores flavors offered by local company Haypenny Confections. The marshmallows are made by hand as are the honey cinnamon graham crackers.×
Danielle Loveless of Haypenny Confections plucks a marshmallow out of a jar during a recent s'mores party held at a downtown salon.×
Smores made by Danielle Loveless of Haypenny Confections.×
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