Friday, June 17, 2011

S'mores Cupcakes

Who doesn't love a warm gooey treat from time to time? We do! S'mores were created around the turn of the 20th Century - about the same time that commercial marshmallows were becoming popular. The marshmallows traveled well, as did graham crackers and chocolate bars, making them good snacks to take on vacations and camping trips. The marshmallows were easily warmed over the campfire which, combined with the chocolate and graham crackers, made for a delicious treat in situations where other desserts would have been more difficult to make.
The first recorded version of the S'mores recipe appeared in the 1927 Girl Scout handbook entitled Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. The recipe was featured in various Girl Scout publications until at least 1971. Folklore tells us that the name "S'mores" came about because everyone who tasted them wanted "some more."
The publication of the S'mores recipe was not the first time chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers were paired. The Mallomar Cookie was introduced in 1913 followed by the Moon Pie in 1917. The following recipe combines all the delicious ingredients of S'mores with rich Devil's Food Cake to make a treat that is sure to be a hit with your family!

What you will need:
For the crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 1/3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
8oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the cake
1 box Devil's Food cake mix - we used Pillsbury
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup oil
3 eggs
(the cake ingredients may vary according to the directions on the back of the box)

For the frosting:
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract (we used clear)

What you need to do:
Preheat your oven to 350. Melt your butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. *We only have one cupcake pan so we had to bake in two cycles. If you have whole graham crackers crush enough to make 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. Chop your 8oz bittersweet chocolate bar (if you have the Ghiradelli brand you will need 2 - 4oz bars).
In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter; mix well with a fork.
Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down. *We used the back of our 1/4 measuring cup.
Sprinkle a small amount of the chopped chocolate on top of the graham cracker crusts. Bake for 5 minutes then remove from the oven. *Leave the oven at 350 after you remove the pan.
Make the cake batter according to the directions on the box. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.

Return the pan to the oven and bake according to the directions on the box (about 18-22 minutes), rotating the pan halfway through baking. *We only baked for 18 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
While the cupcakes are cooling thoroughly wash and DRY your mixer bowl to remove any oily residue the batter may have left behind. *The oil will effect the consistency of the frosting.

*The frosting recipe calls for you to use a double boiler. We do not have a double boiler and probably wouldn't have used one anyway - that's just more to clean up later. We just set our clean, dry mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water.
If you have not already separated your eggs, do that now.
To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a bowl. Then pour into your "double boiler."
Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160 degrees. *You can use a candy thermometer, but who has one of those things? We just used our digital food thermometer.
Once it reaches the proper temperature transfer the mixture, along with the mixer bowl, back to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. When the mixture starts to thicken add the 2 tsp vanilla extract.
Now you can frost your cooled cupcakes. *We used a piping bag fitted with a star tip (Wilton size 2D) to get a swirled look. If you don't have a piping bag or star tip a spoon or butter knife works well too.
You can stop here and have pretty cupcakes that taste delicious, however, we browned the tops of our cupcakes to give them a more "toasted marshmallow" look. To do this you will need to put your cupcakes in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes so the marshmallow frosting will completely set. Now, at this point a professional baker will pull out his kitchen torch. We don't have one of those fancy things so we pulled out our Bic torch we use to light the grill. We gently brushed the flame against the marshmallow swirls to achieve the desired "toastiness."
If you want, you can garnish with a piece of chocolate and/or graham cracker.
These cupcakes are DELICIOUS! They will be perfect for a camping-themed birthday party, a Boy or Girl Scout gathering, or just a fun weekend kitchen project. The marshmallow frosting may seem a bit complicated, but it was actually very easy to make. You can probably just buy a jar of marshmallow cream to achieve a similar effect, but the homemade marshmallow frosting tastes so much better!

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