Every so often, a dessert comes around that I consider to be a life-changer. Folks, this here cupcake is a life-changer. On the outside, they look pretty fancy, don’t they? But on the inside you’ll find the most down-home food combination out there: s’mores. Everybody loves them. Nobody ever turns them down. And when talked about, s’mores light up peoples’ eyes. The thought of them made into a cupcake certainly lit up the eyes of a certain 4 year old when we talked about what kind of cupcake he wanted for his birthday party this year! The party was a YMCA swimming party in the middle of December and these cupcakes were the perfect dessert…so reminiscent of summer, don’t you think?
The graham crust on the bottom of these cupcakes makes them totally irresistible (as if s’mores weren’t irresistible enough on their own, right?) and provide such a difference in texture and flavor that you likely won’t find with any other cupcake. And after the chocolate layer cools, you’re left with chocolate chunks between the graham crust and chocolate cupcake. Holy yum!! Don’t think I’m forgetting about the marshmallow frosting either. It’s amazingly incredible…so light and fluffy that you’ll want to float away on it…so dreamy that you’ll want to bury your face in it. Not that I’ve tried… Though from the looks at some of the photos shared with me from the party this weekend, some of the kids did bury their faces in it. Hi-larious photos!
The only tricky part about making these cupcakes is that you’ll need something to brown the frosting with. I still don’t have a crème brûlée/kitchen torch, though I do have one on my Christmas list this year, but Kyle is as much the king of tools as I am the queen of kitchen gadgets. He had a blow torch readily available in the garage and we both had a blast browning these cupcakes with it. The torch was a little difficult for me to wield due to its weight so he did the actual browning and I’m hoping this may have been the spark Santa needed to leave me my own torch under the tree this year. Please do me a favor and don’t wait until next summer to make these cupcakes!
For the graham cracker crust (yields enough for 24 cupcakes):
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
5 1/3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the chocolate cupcake (yields 30-33 cupcakes):
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¾ cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1¼ tsp coarse salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
For the marshmallow frosting (yields enough for 36 cupcakes):
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract
To make the crust and chocolate layer:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. 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 to line the bottom. (Annie suggests using the bottom of my squeeze bottle to be the perfect size to do this job neatly and quickly.) Sprinkle a small amount of the chopped chocolate on top of the graham cracker crusts. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and maintain the oven temperature.
To make the cupcakes:
In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.
To make the frosting:
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 cooled cupcakes as desired. Brown with a kitchen torch and garnish with chocolate and graham cracker segments (optional).