Sunday, June 10, 2012

Would You Like S'more?

I've been on a bit of a hiatus lately, and i apologize if you've missed seeing my posts, but summer is upon us and that means moms become even more busy. It should be the other way around or something. I know i always look forward to summer because that means i no longer have 100 things to remember for the 3 schools my kids are scattered across, and i don't have all the shuttling them around and myriad duties associated with the school year. However, even though i don't have to get up at the crack of dawn or worry about what day Box Tops need to be handed in, i find that my kids require constant attention. That's so annoying. Haha.

I've been sitting on this recipe for weeks. I was on a site that i peruse for rewards (because i'm frugal like that) and i was in the video section trying to earn a few extra points when i came across their video recipe section. I was surprised because i didn't know they had such a thing! I had watched a lot of crappy mini-documentaries and they had older clips from The Martha Stewart Show? Wha..? I had been wasting time.

Jennifer Shea from Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle was showing how to make S'mores cupcakes. Actually they call them Chocolate Graham Cracker and Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes But we all know what that means. As i peruse Pinterest and other sites, i see S'mores are kind of overdone lately, everyone has a version, but i still wanted to give a go at some recipes.

The only problem was that i wanted a *reason* to make these cupcakes. I will make cookies or brownies or bars for any old day, but cupcakes and cakes need an occasion. I have my reasons. When i am making something that takes this extra time and effort, i want someone besides my kids (and husband) to tell me what they think. Unless the recipe will only make 12 cupcakes, it seems a waste to make all that stuff for a family of 5, especially since my girls will lick off the icing and then run off to play. 

When my friend invited us over for a cookout, i was excited! Perfect timing for a cupcake. She didn't ask me to bring anything, so i figured i would make it a surprise.


Chocolate Graham Cracker and Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes

Cupcake Batter

Sift together:
1 1/3 c ap flour
3/4 c + 1 TBSP cocoa powder
2 c + 2 TBSP sugar
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Add in mixer bowl :
2 eggs
1/2 c veg oil
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Add wet to dry ingredients in mixer bowl. Scrape bowl sides. Mix 2 min.

Add 1 cup boiling water into mixer. Incorporate. Let sit.

Bottom crust

1.5 c graham cracker, crushed
1/4 c sugar
1/3 c melted butter

Take graham mixture and add TBSP in each cupcake liner. Press down with small juice glass to make crust.

Add 1 tsp chopped bittersweet chocolate. (I actually used a sprinkling of semi-sweet chocolate chips instead.)

Put in oven at 350 for 5 minutes to create crust.

Scoop in cake mixture. Fill up to 3/4 full in liners. Add a bit more chopped choc on top, then a bit graham mixture on top of that.

Bake 18-20 at 350, cool 10 minutes in pan.

Meringue topping

8 lrg egg whites
2 c sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Take ingredients and mix on stove in double boiler til sugar dissolves til too hot too touch and can't feel the granules.

Add vanilla when ready to mix.

With mixer, beat for 5-7 minutes, until meringue is stff. Pipe onto cupcakes in a cloud.

Use benzomatic torch (industrial strength) and lightly 'roast' the topping. Be careful not to torch paper. Make as dark as you like (not too dark).

I decided to double this recipe. I knew i'd be taking a lot of them to my friend's house but 2 of my kids weren't going to be there and in case they all got gobbled up, i wanted to reserve some for home.

I will just say right off, this recipe would be better done a batch at a time. It all worked out in the end but i had moments.

So, you mix up your cake batter, just like above. Make sure you start your water boiling somewhere in the process so it's done around the time you need it. I had my husband assisting me with putting the cupcake liners in the pans while i did this part. When the batter was all mixed, i let it sit while i used my rolling pin and crushed up graham crackers in a freezer bag. You only need one sleeve of crackers to make 1.5 cups of crumbs, but i made a double batch. Two sleeves makes just shy of 3 cups of crumbs, and i had leftover when i was done, so don't worry about not having enough.

Find a juice glass (or something) that fits the bottom of your cupcake tin. When i bought my Anchor glass baking pans, this little measuring cup came in the box. It's awesome. My husband loves it for measuring alcohol accurately, and i love it because it's the cutest little measuring cup ever, and it has ML and measuring spoon as well as cup measurements on it. It fits perfectly in the bottom of the cupcake tins.

Take a tablespoon and drop some buttery graham cracker crumbs in the bottom. It says use a whole TBSP of crumbs, but i used less and it still made a lovely little crust. So just experiment with what works for you in terms of amount. Take your cup and press the crumbs down and turn it until the whole bottom is covered and pressed down evenly.

I sprinkled some chocolate chips on top of the crusts. It's far simpler than chopping and sprinkling bittersweet chocolate, and last time i checked, you don't make s'mores with bittersweet chocolate anyhow. Pop the crusts with chocolate in the oven for about 5 minutes. The chocolate doesn't really melt into a sheet or anything, and i wasn't motivated to mess up my crusts by trying to spread melty chocolate chips all over them either. So my lazy shortcut is to leave the chips alone.

When you remove the pans, just set them onto some towels or trivets so you can continue working even though the pans are still hot. If you actually have some time, you can wait until they're cooler but i did not have the luxury.

Take a small ice cream scoop and scoop some batter, which will be thinner than normal batter thanks to the addition of boiling water, and fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. You don't want to overfill these, because once they hit the top of the liners, they will spread. If your tins are non-stick coated, a little over spill is not a big issue because they will pop right off with a minimum of effort. Once the liners are all filled, take some more graham cracker crumbs and sprinkle each cupcake as generously as you'd like. I did not sprinkle more chocolate on top of the crumbs as the recipe suggested because i figured they are chocolate cupcakes and that would just be overkill. (Besides, i had run out of chocolate chips, so...)

Some of the graham crackers sunk into the batter a little bit. But we were kind of messy in our execution. ;-)

I don't have a double boiler for the next step, but i can improvise. All you need is a saucepan and a metal mixing bowl that fit together. Don't overfill your saucepan with water. All you need is enough water to hit the bottom of your top pan. There will be steam, and you don't want that kind of mess if it boils out the sides.

This is actually the part where making a double batch became a pain in the butt. The meringue mixture took way longer than it should have to get hot. The recipe says that the mixture is done when the sugar granules are dissolved and the mixture is too hot to touch. My husband thought i was joking when i said this to him because he said that it's pretty stupid to be in the kitchen and have to take one for the team in the form of a scalded finger. However, if you keep whisking with a fork, occasionally just lift your fork and gently touch a drop. Once it starts getting uncomfortably warm, just whisk it for another minute or two and you don't actually have to burn the crap out of yourself. As for the sugar, if you whisk it enough, the sugar WILL dissolve and you don't have to worry about if you can feel granules or not. If you've ever made rock candy or fudge, you'll know what i mean. At some point the stirring takes care of that for you.

When it is finally hot, turn off the heat and carefully lift your bowl out of the saucepan using hot pads or oven gloves or towels... and carefully move it over to your mixer and pour it in. You don't need a stand mixer of course, so if you don't have one, just set it onto a surface that won't scald and take your mixer to it.

The double batch took what seemed like ages to stiffen in the stand mixer.

If you've never made meringue or worked with egg whites this way before, you ideally want it to make stiff peaks. Think mountains. However i think i was working with too much at once, and it never really got quite that stiff for me. Once i was able to lift my mixer and have meringue that would stand on itself, i was ready to pipe. I took a piping bag and inserted my coupler and had it ready to to go standing in a tall glass, and i poured a bit of meringue in it. This was quite messy. I kept the rest of the meringue mixing after i got my bag ready so it would continue to stiffen as i worked. Beware, do not overfill the bag and work quickly, as it WILL come out the end of your bag as gravity works its charm.

My first few cupcakes were rather messy, but the meringue stayed on the cupcakes, so i was happy enough with it. It maintained a gooeyness that i think works in S'mores.

As you can see, it was stiff enough to pile and have definition, but it isn't quite stuff enough to go on top of a lemon meringue pie. 

Next was the part that made me a bit nervous. I told my husband several weeks ago i wanted a culinary torch. He was out one day and bought me a small handheld torch that looked a lot like the ones i had my eye on, but it gave us a lot of trouble when we went to use it. We're taking it back, but it did work enough to get this job done, and now i know i need a better quality torch for my next combustible project. On the video clip, they used a really big industrial Benzomatic torch, but i thought that looked too unwieldy for me, personally.

You don't want to get the tops too dark, of course, just enough that it's toasted and has a nice color to them.

And here is a shot of one in the middle. You can see the crust on the bottom. These are REALLY tasty.

They must have looked messy because more kids ate them than adults. I tried to coax one of my friend's friend to eat one and he said he wasn't big on icing. I told him there wasn't any icing, just meringue. But he didn't eat one. My friend's husband, however, said they were fantastic! He said he wasn't big on marshmallow, but he was impressed. I explained there wasn't ANY marshmallow at all, and he said that explained it! I left a whole plate of them so they could be enjoyed after i was gone.

They aren't as messy as they look. I promise. But, after all, S'mores ARE messy business.

I am glad i tried these. They are definitely on my Make Again list. And now i am not nearly as scared of using a torch, either. I had a lot of 'firsts' on this recipe, so i felt like i learned a lot. And that IS why i do this, after all. It's not just for the treats, although that bonus is quite nice.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my lord, they look delicious!