Saturday, March 19, 2011

S'mores Cupcakes

I have a real soft spot in my heart for s'mores. Yes, they're delicious and evoke happy childhood memories, but they're also what I used to win my way into Dan's heart. Early into our awkward and nerdy courtship (we pretty much fell in love after discovering a mutual obsession with Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series), I figured out that Dan had a wicked sweet tooth -- the man couldn't finish a small burger but could inhale a jumbo box of Junior Mints in about ten seconds. So, every night for weeks, I would just happen to make too many late night s'mores and have to find someone to take the extras off my hands. This had the happy effect of 1) giving me an excuse to go hang out with Dan, and 2) putting me in the good graces of Dan's three roommates, who never complained about me hanging out in their room all the time. Ah, young love.

So are these cupcakes the culmination of my grand love affair with Dan? Nope. The first time I made these cupcakes was for my roommate Shanna's birthday last year. She requested something sweet and chocolate-y that would simultaneously be soft and crunchy -- she's really into that whole textural-contrast thing. I was at a loss for what to do expect maybe make some brownies with nuts in it, but then I found a recipe online for s'mores cupcakes that seemed promising. 

Fresh out of the oven, these cupcakes were soft and gooey, and tasted exactly like the s'mores I grew up eating. If I closed my eyes and lit a match, I could almost believe I was sitting around a campfire. After a night in the fridge, however, they were even better, and fit Shanna's specifications perfectly. The sticky marshmallow frosting oozed into the soft and moist chocolate cake, and the hidden layer of melted chocolate on top of the crumbly graham cracker crust had hardened in the fridge to provide a satisfying snap/crunch with each bite. Definitely a must try.

S'mores Cupcakes (I can't take credit for this recipe, but unfortunately I don't remember which blog I snagged it from...)

- 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 

- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cups karo syrup (corn syrup)
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside.
(2) In a large bowl, combine 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well combined.
(3) Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix well. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue stirring until smooth. Add boiling water and stir to combine; set cake batter aside.
(4) Place graham cracker crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined.
(5) Spoon 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner. (I used a tall/thin shot glass) Save the rest of the graham cracker mixture for topping.
(6) Sprinkle 2 teaspoons chocolate in each muffin cup. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until the edges of the graham cracker mixture is golden, about 5 minutes.
(7) Remove from oven and fill each muffin cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate and graham cracker mixture.
(8) Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pan and let cool completely.
(9) While cupcakes are cooling, start making the marshmallow frosting. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until very frothy.
(10) Slowly add sugar and beat until smooth and glossy.
(11) Add syrup and beat the mixture until it holds stiff peaks. 
(12) Fold
 in vanilla extract, combining until smooth and uniform in color.
(13) Spoon frosting onto the tops of the cooled cupcakes. Stick them back into the oven to broil for a minute or two if you want to frosting to get brown/toasted. Or just sprinkle the cupcakes with chopped and/or shaved chocolate.

One year ago: Gooey Butter Cake With Peanut Butter Chips

For other delicious chocolate recipes, click here.

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