Wednesday, October 15, 2014

S'mores cupcakes

Who doesn't love a cupcake? Weird people, obviously. Ha ha! I made these cupcakes for our end-of-summer cookout, and they received rave reviews. It mean, come on, it's a s'mores treat in cupcake form. The only thing I didn't get to do was toast the marshmallow frosting (I seem to have misplaced my kitchen torch - does anybody know where it is?).

The chocolate cupcakes have a fantastic graham cracker base and is topping with a homemade marshmallow frosting. I was thrilled that the frosting did not use any of the canned marshmallow fluff because that stuff is really hard to get out of the container. Instead, you melt egg whites and sugar over a simmering saucepan and heat it up like a Swiss meringue buttercream.

I garnished my cupcakes with some shaved chocolate, but you don't have to do that. If you can find your kitchen torch, you can use it on the frosting to give it a classic s'mores look. And if you want to be extra fancy, you can sprinkle on some crushed graham crackers too.

However you decide to decorate these cupcakes, they will be fabulous. I brought the leftover cupcakes to work one day and they were devoured. Yes, these cupcakes are a bit more time-consuming than others, but they are worth it.

S'mores cupcakes
Graham cracker crust:
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (you can use a rolling pin, food processor or blender to make graham cracker crumbs)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 and 1/3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
Cupcake:
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon hot water
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks plus 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 and 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1 (5.3 oz) container plain Greek yogurt (I used 0% Chobani) 
Marshmallow frosting:
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Shaved chocolate, optional
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Line two standard cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside (note: since the recipe makes about 28 cupcakes, you may need a third cupcake pan).

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs,sugar and melted butter. The mixture will resemble wet sand. Evenly distribute the crumbs into the paper liners and spoon about 1 Tablespoon in each. Use the bottom of a cup or bottle to press down on the crumbs. Bake in your preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Keep the oven on.

In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water. Mix until smooth and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan set over low to medium heat, warm the butter and sugar until the butter has completely melted.

Transfer the butter/sugar mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer. Mix together on medium speed until the mixture has cooled down, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla, and then the cocoa/water mixture.

Alternatively add the flour mixture and the Greek yogurt in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Do not overmix the batter.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared cupcake liners, filling each one about 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, set a large heatproof bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) over a pot of simmering water. Add the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar and continuously whisk the mixture until it comes to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Once the mixture has reached 160 degrees F, take it off the heat and transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or to a handheld mixer. Whisk the mixture on medium speed and continue to increase the speed until the frosting is stiff and glossy and holds a peak. Add in the vanilla and continue to beat until it is fully incorporated.

Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe it onto the cooled cupcakes. If desired, you can sprinkle shaved chocolate and/or graham cracker crumbs on top for a completed look.

Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for about 3 days. The frosting will deflate a bit after the first day, so keep that in mind if you are preparing these for an event.

Yield: About 28 cupcakes (the frosting may not be enough to frost every cupcake)

Source: Barely adapted from Annie's Eats

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