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Monday, December 27, 2010

S'mores Cupcakes

Since I've started baking and reading recipes for fun, choosing a holiday dessert has been an exciting task.  That might sound odd, but I begin anywhere from 3 weeks to one year ahead.  I start researching the recipes.  There is absolutely nothing better than a home-made baked good to end a delicious meal.  My original plans fell through shortly before the holiday, so I switched gears and started thinking about what I could make, a unique off-the-wall non-traditional holiday dessert, that would be delicious.  The last time I tried baking these cupcakes, I had some issues, so I was tempted to try them again with a good oven.  Once I committed, there was no turning back.  And thank goodness!  These were amazingly delicious.  And although it wasn't the maple gingerbread cake with salted caramel glaze that I had originally planned, everyone enjoyed them.  They were a fun and festive treat.

The cupcakes themselves don't take a whole lot of time.  There is a little bit more labor involved than a "pour cake mix from box and stir in 3 more ingredients" but they are totally worth it.  I loved them.  Dad said it was the best cupcake he ever ate.  Mom said they were delicious.  And Ron threatened to eat all of them.  In total, they took about an hour and half to make, including cooling time.  I highly recommend trying them and if you have a kitchen torch, I highly recommend browning the marshmallow icing to get that 'toasted' taste.  They would be perfect for a birthday, a holiday, or just a random in-need-of-a-cupcake day.  Enjoy!
S'mores Cupcakes
from Annie's Eats
Yield:  2 dozen cupcakes (recipe can be cut in half easily)
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 1/3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Extra graham cracker crumbs
  • Graham cracker segments
  • Chocolate pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Mix up graham cracker crust:  in a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork.  Drop about 1 Tbsp of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom.  (A small glass that fits the bottom round of the cupcake liner works perfect here.)  Sprinkle a small amount of the chopped chocolate on top of the graham cracker crusts.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven, and maintain the oven temperature.
  2. To make the cake batter:  Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer; mix on low speed just to combine.  In another mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract; whisk together.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the boiling water and stir just to combine (batter will be thin).
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners, filing each about 3/4 of the way full.  (Be careful with whole full you fill them to avoid having to pry them out with a knife like I did!)  Return the pans to the oven and bake about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting:  Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tarate in the top of a double boiler.  (I didn't have access to a double boiler, so I used a pot of simmering water and placed a mixing bowl over top.)  Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Mix in the vanilla until combined.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. 
  5. If you have one, brown the icing with a kitchen torch.
  6. Garnish with some chocolate pieces and graham cracker segments (totally optional, but totally worth it).

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