Monday, May 9, 2011

S'mores Cupcakes and Baby Jesuses

I finally did it. I made Collin's fantasy dessert: S'mores cupcakes. Whether or not they remain so is the question. They were good to be sure. But somehow seemed more like a chocolate cupcake with fixings to me. However, I must say, like pie, s'mores are not my favorite thing. Sure, while camping they are delicious and a must-have treat, but I'm not sure I would choose them otherwise.

This particular group meeting happened to fall on Mardi Gras and for the longest time, I've wanted to make a cake with a baby Jesus inside. Traditionally they are baked in king's cakes and whoever gets a slice with the baby Jesus means various different in things in different cultures. I like the version that it means good luck so I told my coworkers that whoever found it would have good luck for the rest of the year. Oleks was the victor after quickly downing two cupcakes to try and find it. Good luck for him in 2011!

Hiding the Baby Jesus

What could be more fun than a baby Jesus? I had just as much fun baking it and not knowing which one it went in to as I had eating them and hoping for the Jesus in my cake. It would have been a little too suspicious if I found it. The people would have revolted no doubt. So I'm glad I can share the luck with another.

If you're a s'mores fanatic like Collin, these would most definitely appeal to you. They aren't too difficult to make but the frosting in a little labor intensive and messy considering it is a meringue. Looking back, a marshmallow fluff would have been much better as a topper for these and much more appropriate. This is common though to many of the s'mores recipes out there and I wonder, why? You certainly don't whip up a meringue around the campfire to enjoy with graham cracker and chocolate, where did the marshamallow go?? Nary a marshmallow in sight. So sad. Perhaps this was the reason for it's downfall (at least for Collin and myself). I did love that the graham cracker was mixed with a bit of melted butter and packed in to the bottom of each cupcake. So so great. I doubt Martha could do any better with her recipe. Off Martha for awhile. Too hit and miss. Why do I always go back to her?

S'mores Cupcakes (adapted from Annie's Eats)

Crust ingredients
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 oz  finely chopped dark chocolate

Cupcake ingredients
2 cups + 2 Tablespoons of sugar
1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup of whole milk (I used buttermilk)
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of Boiling water

Marshmallow ingredients
8 egg whites, at room temperature
2 cups of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 muffin tins (24 muffins all together.) In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Mix until well combined. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom. I used the back of a measuring Tablespoon to so this. Sprinkle a small amount of the chopped chocolate on top of the graham cracker crusts. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Leave the oven at 350F.
Prepare the cupcakes: Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, or any large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract; whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for about 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 (the batter will be thin, don't panic.)
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. Return the pans to the oven and bake about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the marshmallow topping: Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° 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 the cooled cupcakes as desired.
If you have a blow torch, you can use it to carefully toast the marshmallow frosting. If you don't have one, slide the frosted cupcakes under your oven's broiler. (Note: I placed my cupcakes on a cookie sheet while doing this.) Keep moving the cookie sheet around while the cupcakes are under the broiler. They burn very fast, so don't wander around while they're toasting.
Remove and serve immediately
Makes 24 cupcakes.