Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hank Phillippi Ryan's Flaming Stuff

Readers on this blog know S'mores are my favorite food. I even have a cookbook devoted just to them. I was thrilled to see Hank Phillippi Ryan wanted to guest blog about this delicious treat. Hank's award winning books are also delicious treats, and she is a lovely person herself! I last enjoyed hearing her speak as part of great Mystery and Romance days at ALA Midwinter in San Diego last week.  Enjoy her Flaming Foods post!-AA

Flaming stuff, huh? Welcome to my kitchen. I’ve made flaming chocolate chip cookies, flaming roast beef, flaming scrambled eggs, and my piece de résistance, flaming toast. A true Sunday staple.

The flaming was not planned, of course. But if you can’t stand the heat…

What can we learn from my kitchen? Any food can be flaming.

But there is one food that I flame on purpose. Yes, cherries jubilee, and yes, bananas foster, as you have seen in the gorgeous recipes below. And café brulee. And crème brulee. But there’s one more delicious delight that requires flame.

(You might not agree. You might make yours another way. Sad. But we can talk about that.)

What food needs flames to top off the taste?


When was the first time you had one? Girl Scout or Brownie camp? In your own back yard? As an Eagle Scout?

The ingredients are simple. (This serves one. Well, it serves one once, but you’ll probably want maybe three. Hence the name—“s’more.”)

Two graham crackers. (You know how they’re kind of perforated? Use two pieces, but don’t break them apart. )

One piece of chocolate. (Again, perforated. But use two pieces. At Brownie camp, we used Hershey’s. As a grown up, I’m wondering if there might be some benefit in using more premium chocolate. I have not experimented with this. If anyone would like to join me in trying it out, happy to test out gourmet s’mores. Just let me know.)

One marshmallow. (Do you say marshmellow?) The big kind, not the little kind you float in hot chocolate.

One campfire. (Or fireplace, or oven. But your mother will yell at you if you do it in the house.)

Put the chocolate on the graham cracker. Put that on a plate or napkin. (Paper is fine.) Set aside. (Don’t give it to someone to hold because they will undoubtedly eat it.)

Put the marshmallow on a stick. (A stick that’s long enough so you don’t burn yourself, but short enough so it doesn’t droop and let the marshmallow fall off into the fire. Peeling the bark off the stick is an added benefit, but that’s another blog.)

Holding the stick, put the marshmallow into the campfire. Or, you can hold the marshmallow over the campfire. We all have our techniques.

The marshmallow will catch on fire.

(This is a good thing! Good job, you’re doing great.)

Take the marshmallow out of the campfire. It‘ll be flaming (See? This is the flaming part.)

Wait, wait, wait. And watch while the marshmallow continues to flame for a minute or two. (This is especially effective at night at a campsite, not so effective on a living room rug. See mother, above.)

Blow out the fire. (Not the campfire fire, the fiery marshmallow.)

It will be lovely and burned to a crisp (literally) on the outside, all nice and gooey on the inside.

Place gooey marshmallow on top of the chocolate. Add the second graham cracker to makes the top of the “sandwich.”

Notice, briefly, how the hot marshmallow will melt the chocolate.


Warning: Careful! The marshmallow middle will goosh out when you skoosh the graham crackers together.


Flaming food. You don’t have to be a gourmet to make it!

Agatha, Anthony and Macavity award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is on the air at Boston's NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in restitution. Along with her 26 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She's been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine working with Hunter S. Thompson.
Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. It was also was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense Novel, and a Reviewers' Choice Award Winner. FACE TIME (a BookSense Notable Book) and AIR TIME are IMBA bestsellers, and AIR TIME was nominated for the AGATHA and ANTHONY Award. (Of AIR TIME, Sue Grafton says: "This is first-class entertainment.") DRIVE TIME, February 2010 from MIRA Books, just earned a starred review from Library Journal saying it “puts Ryan in a league with Lisa Scottoline.”  Hank's short story “On the House” won the AGATHA, ANTHONY and MACAVITY for 2009.  Hank is on the board of New England Sisters in Crime and the national board of Mystery Writers of America.  Her website is


Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

I'm worrying that some might be in the "lightly toast the marshmallow until golden brown" camp.

I do think that removing the "flaming" from the smores is not beneficial.

Who's a flamer? and Who's a toaster?

Anonymous said...

Ain't that the final s'more. A Renaissance Woman, to be sure.