Saturday, July 04, 2009
Deceptively Simple: Smores Cupcakes
I had a hankering for some cupcakes, one of my many current fascinations. Recently a Smore cupcake had caught my attention, so I decided I needed to have some. Since I won’t be going camping/cabining until late August, it only makes sense to try and recreate this summer outdoor favorite in the privacy of my own, somewhat substandard kitchen. (Yes, I am still mad at my kitchen and waiting for the day that I can gladly take a sledgehammer to it all.)
I also decided to do it in a quick, easy, straight-from-the-pantry way, so that you could recreate them in a jiffy. (Truth be told, I did have to buy one ingredient). Not that you couldn’t do everything from scratch, because you can. You can also switch up the ingredients in any number of manners to get the right flavor for you.
There are 3 elements to smores: graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow. I chose to layer these ingredients in this
order: graham cracker, chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow. I also made a batch that had graham cracker, chocolate (mini chips), chocolate (brownie), chocolate (mini chips), graham cracker, marshmallow, but I felt that was too much chocolate, believe it or not. You could also do graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow, chocolate, graham cracker—putting marshmallow in the center of your brownie batter. You get the picture. But I’ll still to the basics here and you can experiment later on your own.
Mix up the ingredients for a graham cracker crust (recipe below). I used 1 tablespoon for each cupcake paper. Then I took the bottom of a juice glass and smooshed (very technical cooking term) the crackers down, compacting them into a base layer.
Prepare a boxed fudge brownie mix, according to the instructions (eggs, oil, water). Top the graham base with 1 ice cream scoop of brownie batter. Don’t use too much here, as too much chocolate can overwhelm the final product. Top the brownie mix with another tablespoon of graham base and even it out with a spoon, pushing the graham into the chocolate mixture a bit. Baking (oven temp per brownie package instructions) will require a bit of vigilance, as different mixes, different ovens, and varying thickness of the brownie all affect the baking time. Start by checking at 15 minutes. Then check every 3-5 after that until they are done and a toothpick comes out clean.
Once the cupcakes are cool, you top with marshmallow. You can pipe on marshmallow fluff or just use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon. Or use a fresh square marshmallow or even a large Jet Puffed marshmallow. If you feel like investing time in a good marshmallow frosting, I have supplied a recipe below that is really really tasty.
You can use a brulee torch or oven broiler (if you have one that works) to brown the marshmallow for that toasty look. I think it completes the whole cupcake by doing so.
And there you have it. Deceptively simple, deliciously satisfying.
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or about 15 crushed crackers)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
Marshmallow Fluff or large marshmallows or homemade marshmallow icing (recipe below)
Mini chocolate chips (you can use these between the graham and chocolate layers for an added chocolate punch)
Hershey’s chocolate bar (stick a piece into the toasted marshmallow for a finishing touch)
Homemade Marshmallow Frosting
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large)
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Put the egg whites in a clean, dry mixer bowl or in another large bowl. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, cover the pan and boil for 3 minutes. Uncover and allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 242 F on the candy thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, start beating the egg whites.
When the syrup is at about 235 F, begin beating the egg whites on medium speed with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer. If the whites form firm, shiny peaks before the syrup reaches temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing the whites until the syrup catches up. With the mixer at medium speed, and standing back slightly, carefully pour the hot syrup between the beater(s) and the side of the bowl. Splatters are inevitable - don't try to scrape them into the egg whites, just carry on. Add the vanilla extract and keep beating the whites at medium speed until they reach room temperature, about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth, shiny, marshmallowy frosting.