Saturday, April 25, 2009

S'mores Cupcakes Experiment

So, when we do coffee hour at church, I almost never bring just one thing. I like to give people options. And I've developed kind of a reputation, which I have to uphold! So coffee hour, when I do it, almost always involves cupcakes. They're so easy to do in large batches (well, the mini ones are, anyway), and everybody loves them.

I was looking at Chockylit's (sadly defunct) Cupcake Bakeshop for inspiration, and saw her s'mores cupcakes and knew that that was what I wanted to make. But I didn't want to make her recipe for them, because I didn't have time to make the little graham cracker crusts for like a million mini-cupcakes, nor did I have time for homemade marshmallows (although I plan to try my hand at marshmallows, someday). So I went exploring online, and found a LOT of s'mores cupcake recipes. Many of them are made with chocolate cake, which I didn't want -- chocolate isn't really the dominant flavor in s'mores.

So I looked for graham cracker cupcake recipes, intending to put milk chocolate chunks in them, and do some sort of marshmallow frosting. I found the recipe below, and it looked great - lots of graham crackers in there. I found a lot of frosting recipes that used the same basic concept as the one I used (below), so I was set!

The cake batter made me a little nervous as it was coming together -- all those crumbs made for a kind of curdled-looking batter. And I'd doubled the recipe, so I really needed it to work out! As you see, the cupcakes baked up beautifully, and they smelled wonderful in the oven.

The frosting also gave me some pause -- I've never put marshmallow creme in frosting before, and it definitely changes the consistency. It's hard to explain - it seems softer and looser than regular buttercream, but it has more structure at the same time. It made it hard to know when to stop tweaking (I usually just add a little more sugar and a little more water/milk until my frosting is "right").

Verdict: these were definitely yummy (my neighbor LOVED them, said they were the best thing I've ever baked), but I didn't get much "s'mores" flavor out of them. The main flavor I got was "sweet." The cupcakes weren't graham-y enough, which is kind of frustrating given how much graham cracker went into them! The frosting didn't taste marshmallowy at all, although that was probably my fault for adding too much powdered sugar.

I want to try these again, but next time I think I'll add chunks of graham cracker to the batter, and maybe make a streusel-type topping out of graham crackers, too. I will also make a swiss meringue buttercream-type frosting, which should taste more marshmallowy, and I think I'll try to toast it!

S’mores Cupcakes
Adapted from How To Eat a Cupcake
Makes just under 5 dozen mini cupcakes

For cupcakes:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 11 grahams)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 cup milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks

For frosting:
7 oz. marshmallow creme
6 Tbsp. (3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
approx. 3/4 pound confectioner's sugar
1-2 Tbsp. water or milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix flour, crushed graham crackers, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk and beat until batter is almost smooth. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into cupcake papers, filling cups about 2/3 full (I use a #60 disher for mini cupcakes). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean . Remove from oven and cool.

Make frosting: beat butter and marshmallow creme in standing mixer until combined. Add powdered sugar and water until a nice, fluffy consistency.

Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with grated milk chocolate or graham cracker crumbs.


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