S'mores Australian Style: how to make Australian S'Mores

How to make Australian S'Mores guide

S'Mores is a camping treat you hear a lot about when reading stories from the USA.   It's a big thing over there.    No American camping trip is complete without partaking in the ritual of having a S'More.     But in Australia, it's doesn't register as a camping experience we must have.      

In the interest of all things camping and because chocolate was involved, I bravely decided to venture into an unknown cooking territory and try to replicate this traditional dessert here in Australia.

Wikipedia says they are a

traditional night-time campfire treat” and made up of “roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker”.

The marshmallow and chocolate – no problems – a trip to my cupboard and we have them.

The graham cracker – what is that?         

Australian S'Mores 
Photo credit:  D.Niblack

The graham cracker is elusive here in Australia, though some stores that stock American food products, will also stock these.  But it's not something you can grab from any supermarket here in Australia readily.

So substitutes are needed.

McVitie Digestives seem to be the closest.  I have also heard that Arnotts “Marie” biscuits are worth a go.

So  we decided to try to make an Australian S’More.   Here was "the plan":

    • Gather around a campfire
    • Get a Marie or McVities biscuit and put a piece of chocolate on it.
    • Cook a marshmallow over the campfire using a stick or whatever preferred method is.
    • Place the browned marshmallow on the biscuit that has the chocolate on it
    • Create a sandwich by putting the another biscuit on the marshmallow, let the marshmallow spread a bit eg.ooze
    • Wait 30 seconds for the warm marshmallow to melt the chocolate
    • Eat and enjoy!

      Well, let me tell you that after our first experience with a S’More, it needs some refinement.     We hit a couple of problems.....

      • Choice of biscuit – Marie by Arnotts.  It seemed a bit too thick and sweet.  It was like sugar overload and not in a good way.   See the bottom of this story for the alternative option using Oreos (found in all supermarkets) 
      •  Chocolate that goes on the biscuit – we used a Cadburys Twirl broken in half.    When the marshmallow went onto this chocolate, it just did not melt.   I waited 30 seconds but that chocolate stood firm long after 30 seconds.
      • Marshmallow – to get it really gooey, I sort of set it on fire, so it was all blackened (not sure if I am meant to do that), but it didn’t seem to retain heat to melt chocolate.

      Where did I go wrong?  (apart from not using a microwave)

      My kids enjoyed this new camping treat, but I was a bit disappointed.  

      I think it comes down to my biscuit choice.   
      Or maybe my chocolate choice.    
      Or then again, maybe my marshmallow cooking!!!

      We tried our own version at Easter.     You can see Easter S'Mores here

      Australian S'More
      Searching for S'Mores information is impressive for a newbie to the world of S'Mores - there are sites dedicated to recipes; how to cook them; bizarre S'More alternatives; and even a Facebook page dedicated to S'Mores.   

      This site had a delicious sounding recipe for Peanut Butter S'Mores.  Makes my mouth just water thinking about that combination.

       Or maybe you want to make your own S'More in a virtual experience?  

      Yes, at the Hersheys site you will be able to pretend you are making a S'More and create your own ultimate S'More without ever leaving your computer........Unless your computer keyboard is a giant S'More (see below)

      Australian S'Mores

      So, despite there being a lot of info out there for beginners, my S'More experience was not a huge hit.   

      I am not planning on giving up anytime soon - all those Americans can't be wrong - but I think the key elements to make a good S'More needs a small re-think on my part.

      Update:    Aldi has been selling the S'Mores Kit in June 2017, for the bargain price of $6 and you get 12 S'Mores out of it, and using all the American products to recreate this S'More delight.    I can't guarantee how long this supermarket will have them, but worth having a look! 

      Alcoholic S'More Alternative

      S'Mores not for you?    Then  adults, you need to seriously consider this drink - S'Moretinis


      So you don't have the crackers, but you have Oreos?    Then you are ready for a new taste sensation.   The S'Moreo. 

      See how to make it here:

      (FYI:  This post was originally published in 2012, and has been updated to maintain accuracy and be informative as possible).

      Lead photo:
      "S’more" (CC BY 2.0) by  smith_family 

      Camping with Kids - Games to play at night

      Camping games at night

      This is Part 2 of camping activities for children.      You can read Part 1 here.

      We focus on some ideas for after dark.    

      After dark games can work depending on the age of the children and your environment.      Games like Tag or Hide-and-Seek in the Dark, may not be appropriate or safe where you are camping.    We have tried to list  mainly games that don't mean you will have children scattered all over the campground.

      Glow Stick Ring Toss

      Need to plan ahead for this game?   YES

      Now you can buy this set here,  or you can make it yourself.  

      You need glow sticks (get them at reject stores or Cheap as Chips sells a pack of 50 for around $6) that can be made into a ring (some come with connectors included to make larger shapes by connecting two or more glow sticks).

      Then you set up something that the glow stick rings can be thrown onto - it might be another stick in the ground (attach a spare glow stick to it to it stands out in the dark), or might be a branch on a tree. Whatever you find will work.

      Each child has a set number of glow sticks to try to toss onto the stick/branch from a distance.   Smaller children may need to be closer to give them a better chance of success!

      Start tossing!

      glow stick toss

      Prizes optional.

      Glow in the Dark Bowling

      Glow in the dark bowling

      Need to plan ahead for this game?   YES

      If you have glow sticks and empty clear water bottles (you would need at least 6) you can add to the bottle, water and an activated glow stick.    Some sand is optional at the bottom of the bottle as that helps stabilise the bottle and make it less prone to falling over.

      Set the now-glowing water bottles up, and with a ball roll or kick it, to see how many water bottles you can knock over from a distance.

      (above photo via Instructables)

      Other Glow Stick Options

      So if you still want more glow stick options, try the following:

      - Glow Stick Hopscotch  (using the glowsticks to form the hopscotch pattern but without the numbers.   Forgotten how to play this game - read here for a refresher!

      Need to plan ahead for this game?   YES

      - Glow Stick Hide and Seek     Activate the glow sticks before dark, and hide them.     As night falls, they will start to glow, and the child who collects the most wins.     This does take some planning ahead as you need to activate and hide in daylight!

      Need to plan ahead for this game?   YES

      Glow Stick Safety - Make sure you use Glow Sticks carefully

      Before we leave glow stick games behind, it is a good time to remind everyone that glow sticks contain chemicals.   Therefore precautions do need to be followed.   

      To find out about glow stick safety (and what you need to be aware of), please take the time to read this website:   

      Flashlight Tag

      Need to plan ahead for this game?   NO

      Best  for larger groups of children.     Choose one person to be "it".  They must have a flashlight.    "It" needs to count to 50, whilst the other children hide.   When "it" sees another player he turns the flashlight onto them.    Everyone else, needs to avoid being seen by the spotlight.     If you get "flashed" by the light, you are now "it".

      Around the campfire games

      There are lots of games you can play sitting around the campfire.     The success of these games depends on the size of the group and the ages involved.

      You can see the list of 10 suggestions at this website Escape Adulthood.

      There are classic games such as charades, truth or dare, the winking assassin and ghost stories.   Ghost stories are fun, but make sure you choose age appropriate ones or you will have younger children up all night worrying.   The scarier the better for my children but you need to use your judgement!

      Below are some websites that specialise in scary stories to tell around the campfire if you are stuck for ideas:

      Reddit Stories
      Creepy Stories to tell after dark

      Need to plan ahead for this game?   NO

      This is just a few games to think about when the sun goes down, but the kids still have energy to play.  Adults might like some of them too!

      Further Reading:   Scavenger Hunt (downloadable ideas for you, and you can try them at night as well)

      Camping activities for kids: 5 things to do with children when outdoors

      What can you do with kids when camping and they get bored?  5 ideas

      Is there a worse phrase in the world as “I’m bored?

      If you are a parent, I am pretty confident that you have heard this more than once.

      And whilst camping offers a lot to do, sometimes children fail to notice what is around them and might need some guidance.

      (If you are new to camping, take the time to read our 10 tips on camping with children.)

      There might some of you who think that kids don’t need entertaining if they are in the outdoors, as they should be exploring and being kids.

      And you are right.

      But, with the rise of children spending time indoors on screen based activities, there is a demise in outdoors play amongst children, and sometimes, we may need to do some encouraging to help them re-engage with the great outdoors.

      You can read more about importance of kids being outdoors here.

      We put together some activities you may want to do with your children next time you are camping.   You might already be doing a few of these, but might discover 1 or 2 that you are not.

      Before we begin......

      All suggestions below are for
      • day time
      • good weather 
      • I have also chosen activities that can be done if you are camping on your own, without other children nearby to entertain and occupy.    If you do have extra child campers  nearby then they can most certainly join in.
      • with minimal extra things to bring along (eg. canoes, fishing rods, bikes, craft items)
      • night time games for kids have a separate post - read it here

      1.    Go on a hike

      hiking with kids

      This is one of the main things we do on our camping trips.

      Not always long hikes, due to our youngest child, but getting out and seeing what is around the area we have camped in, is a great activity and you never know what you will see around that next bend.
      You do need to ensure you are prepared for the hike though – with adequate water, food and hats/sunscreen/first aid kit.

      Don’t wander too far away from camp if you are not fully prepared, and a GPS is a handy gadget to have, especially if you are not great at navigating.

      To find out more about hiking with kids, we recommend reading these detailed articles

      From Playstation to Trailhead – Introducing your kids to hiking

      Kids and Hiking

      2.   Scavenger Hunt

      Scavenger hunts can be easy or a little more complicated - it's totally up to you!

      If you are not prepared, you can just list a few items you know will be nearby, and get the children to run around and collect all the items.

      We also recommend a bit of planning - and bringing a Scavenger Hunt List.

      Small children like the chance to run around and find things on a list, as long as what is on the list is achievable.        The ability to find all the items on a list is going to be dependent upon their age and attention span.   Sometimes an adult might be needed to help the younger ones.

      You can read our Scavenger Hunt information (and get scavenger hunt PDF downloads) on this link.

      Older children don't get left out either.    You will see that we have catered to the love of screens, by combining a scavenger hunt with technology (photos and selfie scavenger hunt lists).

      3.  Geocaching

      photo credit: cachemania via photopin cc

      We have written about Geocaching before and you can read what it is all about here.

      It is like a variation on the scavenger hunt, but with a little bit more work.   The most comprehensive site to find out more is https://www.geocaching.com/play

      You do need to join up, but it is free.      Do this before you leave home.

      For a comprehensive overview of how it all works, view the 75 second video below

      4.    Campfire Building (and competitions)

      campfire building
      photo credit: cafemama via photopin cc

      If you are in an area where campfires are allowed, we often get our children to set up the fire to ready it for lighting.

      Getting kindling is their chore, and we make a game of it.   Who can get the biggest pile!   (saves parents looking for it).     This works well with younger children who haven’t yet figured out, its a chore.    Older children wise up faster, that it's not that thrilling to win this competition!

      If you have a lot of firewood sitting around and not immediately requiring it, the children can use it to build a sculpture - see how tall they can get it, and need to use every piece of firewood.   This encourages the child to be creative and learn about what works when building and what doesn't. Adding extras like leaves and rocks to their sculpture can help make it more attractive.   And its a lot of fun to knock down as well

      5.  Creating their own space

      tree fort
      photo credit: GerryT via photopin cc

      Fort building:   Perfect if you are in a bush setting, with lots of fallen branches.   If you are in a caravan park, this one is not for you.      The children collect branches to make a teepee style tent out of branches, or lean them against fallen trunks so they have a “secret” space.

      This fort can become quite territorial with children, so sometimes you might have to intervene when others want to “stay in the fort”.

      When my daughter was younger, she would create an area for the fairies and elves to visit at night.  That would take a lot of time, creating something special and pretty for the fairies to visit.  

      That’s not going to appeal to every child, but the concept is that they make an area which they call “their own” and decorate it with what nature has provided.

      Note:  Remind children that it is NOT OK to break off branches for trees or damage any part of the environment for this game.  

      Why I don’t recommend Board Games

      monopoly board
      photo credit: Ella's Dad via photopin cc

      This is recommended by lots of sites as an activity for kids when camping, and I have to say, its my least favourite option.
      The reason is that, if you have brought Scrabble/Monopoly/Pictionary or whatever game you have on hand, there tends to be a lot of bits and pieces to look after.     If outside, you have to deal with the weather elements which could play havoc to a game!     When parts of the game, go missing, that is when tension arises.

      In a tent, too easy for it all to get trodden on.   Card games would be a better option.

      Possibly those in a more controlled environment like a caravan, it could be a godsend, especially on rainy days, but overall, we don’t pack those sorts of games when we are tent camping.

      Need more ideas?

      This site has 30+ camping games for you to check out.

      This story first appeared in 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and additional information.

      Lead image by:  J.Fowler