I made Paul Hollywood's controversial Great British Bake Off s'mores

Making Great British Bake Off s'mores
(Image credit: Future)

Watching the Great British Bake Off last week (or the Great British Baking Show as it's known in the US), I could only think one thing as Paul Hollywood unveiled his 'elevated' take on s'mores: the Americans are going to hate this.

Episodes are shown a week earlier here in the UK, so I was intrigued to see how our friends over the pond would react. Sure enough, there was shock, dismay, and even anger at what Hollywood had done to a humble campfire snack. Backpacker branded them 'a crime (opens in new tab)', and the r/bakeoff (opens in new tab) subreddit ended up locking a lengthy and furious thread on the topic.

Paul's s'mores certainly look odd – towering piles of marshmallow topped with little biscuit hats – but what are they actually like to make, and could you reasonably take some in a tupperware to nibble at a bougie bonfire? I decided to find out.

The recipe and ingredients

All GBBO technical recipes are published online, including the infamous s'mores (opens in new tab), so you can follow along at home. This particular recipe is a strange one though, and calls for one thing in particular that I've never seen in a British supermarket or baking shop: corn syrup. I could easily find a marshmallow recipe that just uses sugar, but in the spirit of the challenge I managed to procure some on Amazon – a bottle of mysterious clear fluid imported from Korea.

Bottle of corn syrup

It has a picture of corn on it, so that's something (Image credit: Future)

I also ordered some wheatgerm for the digestive biscuits, which are the closest thing we have to graham crackers in the UK. As you can guess from the name, all that fiber is meant to be good for the digestive system. All the sugar and butter might negate that, though.

I had everything else, except for a 5cm plain cutter. As you can see from the photo up there, I only had a fluted cutter, but I didn't want to buy another one just for this, so my marshmallows have fun ridges. I didn't have the same type of cookie stamp used in the recipe either, but I did have a daisy stamp, which is kinda cute.

On your marks, get set... bake!

First, I made the digestive biscuits by throwing everything into a food processor as instructed, combining to form a dough, then leaving it in the fridge to firm up. It's a super simple recipe and the biscuits turned out really nicely, though they only used two tablespoons of the 500g bag of wheatgerm I now own. I'll have to do some fancy bread with it. Lots of fancy bread.

One the dough was chilled, it was ready to roll, cut, stamp, and bake. I was really happy with how the little digestives turned out. So cute! I almost didn't want to cover them with goo.

Digestive biscuits on wire cooling rack

I didn't have the same type of stamp Paul Hollywood used, so I used this daisy instead (Image credit: Future)

Biscuits and ganache are familiar territory, but I've never made marshmallow before, so I was a bit nervous that I was just going to make a huge, sticky, corn syrupy mess. It's not actually hard though, and if you've ever made Swiss meringue, you'll be fine. Just put your gelatine to soak, whisk up your egg whites, and then heat up a big pool of sugar and corn syrup to 115C. Pour the syrup into the eggs with the mixer running, then chop up the gelatine and toss that in a little bit at a time.

I wasn't sure how well that last part was going to work. Whenever I've used gelatine in the past, it's always been melted into liquid in a pan, so I would have expected it to be added to the syrup, but it actually melted into the warm meringue just fine.

I'm trying to imagine actually making these at camp. Trying to get a solar panel to power a Kitchenaid, or heat syrup over a Trangier. 

Whisking eggs in a stand mixer

Fancy carrying an 11kg Kitchenaid mixer next time you go camping? (Image credit: Future)

Add some vanilla, tip the resulting goo into a thoroughly prepared tin, level off the top, and clean up the bowl (arguably the best part). Leave to set at room temperature; it'll take a while, but have patience and make some ganache while you're waiting.

If you've not done it before, making ganache is super simple. You just warm up some cream, then add chocolate and stir it until it's all melted and unctuous. The proportions of chocolate and cream vary depending on the type of chocolate you're using. Milk chocolate has a higher fat content than dark, so requires a lower ratio of cream to chocolate.

A piping bag full of chocolate ganache

The recipe makes way more ganache than you need, but you can use it for other things like cakes, or just drizzling over ice cream (Image credit: Future)

Now for the assembly! This was the only really tricky part, because the marshmallow was so thick the s'mores wanted to fall over. If anything, mine seemed to turn out even more crazily proportioned than the ones on the show.

If you try this yourself, you'll find that you have way more marshmallow than you need. The recipe says to "discard the scraps", which I did with a spoon and my mouth.

Finally, at the very last step, I ran into a problem. Although I've got a kitchen blowtorch, I don't currently have any fuel for it. I briefly entertained the idea of holding each one horizontally and gently rotating it over a candle, but this seemed like a good way to set the biscuits on fire and end up having my entire apartment building evacuated. 

Great British Bake Off s'mores

A plate of tall daisies (Image credit: Future)

So there they are – my finished s'mores, only lacking the one thing that actually makes them campfire food. Could you actually eat them at camp, if you took them in a tupperware? I guess so, but it's going to be a mess however you do it. 

However you eat them, they're quite delicious. The biscuit is crisp and not too sweet, though I feel a milk chocolate ganache might work better.

The marshmallow is so tall, the neatest way I can think of doing it is to knock the lofty s'more on its side, cut through the marshmallow horizontally with your best camping knife, and eat it in two pieces. Alternatively, turn it into a fun campfire game by keeping your arms behind your back and trying to eat it without drowning.

I'd like to imagine that's what Paul had in mind.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).