Story last updated at 8/13/2014 - 7:29 pm
Last Sunday, my dear friend Elizabeth marked a milestone birthday. To celebrate, she wanted to have a picnic at Eagle Beach with her special girlfriends. I was thrilled to be included in this amazing group of women.
The funny thing about Elizabeth is that she's a planner - a very good planner - and she had begun planning her own party. Our other friend Lorene and I quickly took the reins and assured her that we could take care of everything and that Elizabeth's only responsibilities were to tell us what she'd like and to have fun. I emailed the guests on her list and made food assignments, while Lorene took charge of decorations.
Elizabeth's menu choice was very simple: burgers. She merely wanted grilled burgers, her friends and the beautiful view at Eagle Beach. These were easily accomplished. Given that I was in charge of food, I also wanted to do something special for dessert. Her favorite cakes are carrot cake and German chocolate cake. Bearing in mind that I'm not a baker, I reached out to our friend who was, Liz. She promptly accepted the challenge of carrot cake cupcakes and emphatically delivered. They were amazing! Now, what to do about German chocolate cake? I'm not baker ... cake is usually baked ... the frosting is what makes its special ... I have it! German chocolate s'mores!
This idea got my cooking wheel rolling, and I thought: Why stop there? So for the dessert at this very special picnic, for this very special lady, I created several options for making gourmet s'mores. All included chocolate and roasted marshmallows, but I added fresh strawberries, hazelnut chocolate spread, and strawberries macerated in chocolate balsamic vinegar. That was my personal favorite.
As we were all enjoying our burgers, salads and s'mores, we also toasted the birthday lady and shared wonderful memories of our time with her. Elizabeth shared a few thoughts of her own, too. She told us that the reason she wanted to have a party with just her women friends was because it was the women in her life who impacted her most. From the time she was in grade school, through college, throughout her career until now, it was the women whom she laughed with, cried with and bonded with who made her life so rich and full. Yes, of course she loves her husband dearly, but the bond between women is something special and that she wanted to thank all of us for being a part of her life.
I will never forget that moment when she was speaking and I looked around the table at all the amazing women present. I had worked with many, some worked for me, some I had just met, but most of all they all had a story to tell. Each story was rich in love, tears and special moments that made their own lives fulfilling. It was at that moment I truly began to understand the bond of women and how precious we are to one another.
We all toasted her once again and then proceeded to sit around the campfire, roast our marshmallows and spend the rest of the afternoon laughing at one another. I did have a moment of panic when Lorene said something about camping. Camping? That's overnight outdoors. I did NOT get that memo. I was quickly assured that this was not a camping event, just a picnic. I ate another chocolate balsamic strawberry s'more to calm my nerves.
A special event such as this did indeed deserve a special dessert and I was so honored to provide it. The German chocolate s'mores were a huge hit and I ate three myself.
This week I present a treat that will take your next campfire to a whole new level: Gourmet S'mores. As special aside, I want to say thank you to the many special women in my life who have made my journey so very rich, full of laughter and most of all worth the travel.
Until next time...
Eat and enjoy,
GERMAN CHOCOLATE FROSTING
½ cup evaporated milk
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut
Combine milk, sugar, egg yolk, butter, vanilla and almond extracts in medium saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and add pecans and coconut. Let cool before using.
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons chocolate balsamic vinegar
Combine all ingredients, stir well and refrigerate overnight.
Additional ideas for gourmet s'mores include using hazelnut chocolate spread, bananas, and assorted berries. Pineapple is a fun option as well.