That classic summertime, campfire dessert, a gooey mix of melted chocolate, toasty marshmallow and crunchy graham crackers. This is one of the things I most look forward to each camping trip. You cannot camp without eating s'mores! That would be criminal.
As much as I love summer, and s'mores, it's only natural that I create a special summertime cupcake. I spent a lot of time searching the web, looking at recipes and photos deciding how I thought best to represent s'mores in a cupcake form. I saw everything from a graham cracker crust (similar to a cheesecake) with chocolate cake and a marshmallow on top to a chocolate cupcake with marshmallow creme with graham cracker crumbs sprinkled on top.
I really wanted that graham cracker flavor but the texture of melted chocolate and gooey marshmallow to stay true to s'mores. So I decided to go with a graham cracker flavored cake, replacing some of the flour with ground graham crackers. Then topping the cake with Nutella (the texture is just like melted chocolate and it tastes so good) and using my favorite meringue frosting and torching it - which is a good reason on its own to make these cupcakes.
(Note you could also use marshmallow creme in place of the meringue. Pipe the creme on and then torch it)
Graham Cracker Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup ground graham cracker
11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup room temperature butter
3⁄4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, process the graham crackers until you have a fine powder.
Whisk together flour, ground graham cracker, baking powder, and salt. Separately mix milk and extract, set aside.
Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl or in a stand mixer. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time allowing each one to incorporate well before moving on.
Incorporate the dry ingredients and milk by alternating half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk.
Use a small ice cream scoop for the cupcake batter, heaping scoops so the cup is about 3⁄4 of the way full. It makes the perfect size cupcakes.
Bake for 18 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
If I told you that this recipe for meringue is from chef Thomas Keller, the chef of two 3-star Michelin rated restaurants - The French Laundry and Per Se - you might be inclined to skip the frosting and choose the marshmallow creme. Please don't! It is not as difficult as you may think. The recipe is, after all, in Chef Keller's ad hoc at home cookbook for the home cooks (ambitious cooks). This is a fantastic meringue for frosting, lemon bars, lemon tarts and lemon pies. I highly recommend at least attempting this frosting, then you can say you are able to cook like a 3-star Michelin chef (wink wink).
11⁄4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract (if using for frosting)
Combine 11⁄4 cups of the sugar and the water in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat to 220 degrees, stirring at first to dissolve the sugar. (Note the syrup will boil vigorously and become very clear when it reaches this temperature, still use a thermometer).
Meanwhile, in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until they begin to look foamy, then gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the whites form soft peaks.
With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar syrup, pouring it down the side of the bowl to avoid the whisk. Add the vanilla, if using, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool.
Cool the cupcakes. Spread some Nutella onto the cupcakes (while resisting the urge to lick the spatula). Pipe the meringue onto the cupcakes, leaving enough of the chocolate showing for the S'mores look. Fire up the torch and toast the tops!
• Amanda Skiba is passionate about cooking and posts her favorite recipes at www.stuffurface.wordpress.com