If there’s any dessert celebrated for its simplicity, it’s the s’more. When the campfire classic first appeared in a Girl Scout guidebook 95 years ago, the recipe had three ingredients: graham crackers, “plain” chocolate and marshmallows. Just add heat and voila! You have an ooey, gooey, chocolate-infused graham cracker sandwich. If only it were that easy. Preparing the perfect s’more is art, and The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana employees experts to teach guests how to do it right – a so-called s’moresologist.
The position might seem a little indulgent but to be fair, anyone who has ever tried to roast a marshmallow evenly knows it takes serious skill. There’s also the question of how much chocolate to add. End up with the wrong ratio, or worse – chocolate that won’t melt – and it’s easy to create a melted, dripping mess. Despite growing up in a family who spent every other weekend (rain or shine) camping, I’ve always struggled with my s’mores game. I can pitch a tent, but don’t ask me to toast your marshmallow unless you like them well past well done.
If you want to up your s’mores game in time for your next camping trip, good news: Matador recently chatted with a The Resort at Paws Up s’moresologist, John Cameron. Technically, Cameron’s day job is glamping butler. However, after the sun sets, you’ll find him hovering around the fire teaching travelers the art, and science, behind the perfect s’more. Here’s what he has to say about his sweet gig.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
MATADOR NETWORK: When I last visited in 2018, Paws Up only had one s’moresologist. How many do you have these days?
All our glamping staff are certified s’moreologists and enjoy leading the s’mores experience for our guests. It is inclusive with all glamping stays [rates around $1,500 per night] and takes place every night around the campfire.
What are your official responsibilities as a s’moresologist?
We act as the Master of Ceremonies for the nightly s’mores presentation in our glamping camps. We lead by example, offer tips on how to make the perfect s’more and give suggestions on ingredients to have fun with and get creative. After guests have showcased their creative abilities, we present them with a certificate to prove they are now a Certified S’moreologist.
What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when making s’mores?
Not having enough patience. Patience is the key to a beautiful s’more, both when roasting the marshmallow and after assembly to let the chocolate melt.
I know most people use Hershey’s, but what’s your go-to chocolate bar when it comes to making s’mores?
Lindt chocolate bars. We use a variety of flavors; chili dark chocolate is my favorite!
What is the ideal chocolate to marshmallow ratio?
This is absolutely up to the s’mores maker, but many experts advise a section of chocolate above and below the marshmallow that is roughly the same size as the marshmallow. We recommend lots of practice to find the perfect chocolate-to-marshmallow ratio that makes the best-tasting s’mores for your palate.
What’s your secret to getting the chocolate to melt?
Let the s’more rest after assembly, the chocolate will have time to heat up and melt.
What brand of graham crackers and marshmallows do you use?
We cannot divulge our trade secrets! Seriously, though, it’s more important that, whatever brand is chosen, that the ingredients are fresh and not stale. There’s nothing yummy about stale graham crackers or stiff marshmallows.
How can people easily elevate their s’mores game without it getting too complicated?
We love to add fresh fruit to s’mores. You can only imagine how adding strawberry slices to a s’more will create a great chocolate-covered strawberry effect. We’ve always wanted to try huckleberries, too, since they’re so plentiful in Montana—and bananas are also a great addition.
Bacon (and candied bacon) and peanut butter (or peanut butter cups)—and even potato chips—are also highly recommended to add a bit of a saltiness to the sweet chocolate. Some other atypical but delicious ingredients include caramel candies, such as Rolos, and white chocolate and even gumdrops. Some folks like to add spices, such as cayenne pepper, to the mix to add a bit of kick—or even hot sauce!
Do you ever get international guests who have never had a s’more before? And what are their reactions to the dessert?
Yes, they’ve often only seen them in movies and usually are the most excited to try them!
What’s your secret to roasting the perfect marshmallow?
Again, patience. Go low and slow, having a nice bed of coals helps achieve a perfect golden s’more. A rookie mistake is putting the whole marshmallow into an open flame, that’s a recipe for a charred black marshmallow!
Is it OK to toast a marshmallow over an open flame or should it always be done over coals?
It’s totally acceptable to roast over an open flame. Just try not to catch the s’more on fire—unless you are imitating an Olympic torch runner while humming the Olympics theme—another time-honored s’mores making tradition.
Why is The Resort at Paws Up so dedicated to the art and science of making s’mores?
What could be more iconic than s’mores around the campfire while glamping in Montana? It’s an essential part of the experience. Also, we love that this is a sentimental treat for many adults, as it reminds them of their childhood. It ends up creating wonderful bonding moments for families and memories that will last long after they depart the resort.