Monday, April 15, 2013

S'mores cupcakes

Monday and I'm feelin' fine!  I had one of those weekends that's really, really good for the soul, you know what I mean?

On Friday, I was a woman on fire and finished all of our laundry and spring cleaning by lunchtime, leaving me the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted.  There is no better feeling than heading into a weekend with all of the "must do" stuff done, leaving two entire days to fill up with "want to do" stuff however I please.

So, what did I want to do?  Go for a long run.  Wear skinny jeans with boat shoes.  Browse the $1 section at Target.  Make that kale salad I teased you about for the second time in three days.  Watch a Penguins hockey game.  Buy a bag of lemons.  Visit my sister and her boyfriend and marvel at their kitten's obsession with Junior Mints.  Watch a movie without any multi-tasking.  Craft a few birthday cards.  Dine at Burgatory for lunch with my hubby.

For non-locals, Burgatory is a brilliantly-themed burger and milkshake restaurant in Pittsburgh.  Business has been so good that they recently opened a second location on the west end of the city, where Matt and I happened to be on Saturday.  We worked up quite an appetite shopping for shoes and made the executive decision to halt shopping in favor of fuel.  Hungry shoppers can quickly become cranky shoppers.

We walked into the restaurant, skipped the wait for a table, and took up seats at the bar to fill out our "burger worksheets."  Once our food was delivered, we were both in burger nirvana.  There isn't enough time in a day or words in my vocabulary to express how delicious their burgers are, so I'll keep things moving.  Burgers at Burgatory are the real deal; the burger itself is nearly an inch thick!  Finishing one is a feat in itself.  But finishing one and ordering dessert?  That's almost crazy.

Almost.  Until you know that the milkshakes at Burgatory are bomb dot com.  The s'mores milkshake is legitimately the best milkshake I've ever had.  It's so good that I have foregone birthday trips to fancy restaurants in favor of dining there so I could have a milkshake on my birthday.  Finely ground graham cracker crumbs stay suspended in a thick (but still slurpable) milk chocolate shake.  And the whole thing is topped with a toasted marshmallow of epic proportions.  Heavenly, last-meal-on-earth shakes, indeed!

With that shake, I had my first s'more taste of the season and, if you know me at all, you know there's no turning back.  Fifty degrees and overcast or eighty degrees and sunny, it's officially summertime dessert season in my kitchen.  There's no dessert that says care-free summer quite like fuss-free s'mores that require no oven whatsoever.  But, since it's still a bit on the chilly side, I decided to take advantage of my oven while I still could and whipped up a batch of s'mores cupcakes!

These cupcakes have all the tasty elements of a classic s'more but in a more decadent and less messy package.  Individual chocolate cakes with a graham cracker crust on the bottom, topped with a swirl of easy marshmallow frosting that's toasted just enough to form a thin outer crust while warming the gooey middle.  You'll practically be able to smell the campfire at first bite!

And, just like those lick-your-fingers-clean graham cracker sandwiches enjoyed fireside, who's to say you must stop after enjoying one cupcake?  Have some more s'more... because you want to.  And "want to do" things are what make life so much fun :)

One year ago: Portobello and Swiss burgers
Two years ago: Herb-marinated pork roast
Three years ago: From scratch "box" brownies

S'mores Cupcakes
(adapted slightly from two of Martha Stewart's recipes)
-makes 15 cupcakes

For the crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 12 squares)
5 1/3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

For the cupcakes, using this recipe:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
Heaping 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons warm water

For the frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  To make crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar with a fork until all crumbs are moistened.  Press 1 Tablespoon of graham mixture into the bottom of each cupcake tin well and flatten with the bottom of a small glass.  Bake for 5 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

Into the large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together dry ingredients for cupcakes.  With mixer on low, add remaining liquid ingredients.  Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, roughly 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Fill each paper liner roughly 3/4 full of batter. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, roughly 20 minutes. Cool in tin on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Invert pan, remove cupcakes, and cool completely right sides up.

To make the frosting, place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water.  Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add vanilla, and mix until combined.  Use immediately by spreading or, with a metal tip and piping bag/Ziploc bag, piping onto top of cooled cupcakes.

To "toast" the marshmallow frosting, place cupcakes on a baking sheet under preheated oven broiler.  Watch closely, as cupcakes can burn quickly, and remove when tops have just begun to turn golden brown in places.  Enjoy immediately! Or, store cupcakes in a sealed at room temperature for up to 3 days.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure there's a Sandlot joke somewhere in this post...