S’mores Cupcakes

February 8, 2013

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Margaux says…

I got this idea from a pin on Pinterest, where I get most of my baking ideas lately. The recipe that I found was a little more complicated than I was wanting to deal with, so I simplified it by using a one-bowl chocolate cake. The cupcakes were a hit…some even said they were the best I’ve ever made. Yay! I’ve made them twice in the last two months already.

This cake recipe is one of my old stand-bys. I’ve been meaning to post it for ages, but I’m always rushed when I make it, so never take the time to take any photos. This is an updated version of the original that I’ve been baking since I was in college, the original being a recipe from my “Betty Crocker” cookbook, which was my first cookbook. The original recipe just uses chocolate chips, and in a pinch I still do that for ease, thrift and to save time. Also, with the original recipe, you just mix the cake directly in the pan…but I find that its actually easier to mix in a bowl. It’s a great recipe to throw together when you have surprise company coming, or if you suddenly find yourself needing something sweet to eat. I always store excess frosting in the freezer, and use it to top the cake (I’ve used everything from leftover chocolate frosting to leftover orange-cream cheese frosting), or if it’s just a last minute thing that I’ve thrown together, I leave it in the pan and top with powdered sugar. Both ways are delicious. Lastly, the reason I put this recipe in the vegan category is because of the cake…it’s completely vegan (just make sure you’re using vegan chocolate-very easy to find!), and is really great just topped with powdered sugar as a vegan treat. Another way I’ve made it for vegan friends also is by baking it into cupcakes (without the graham cracker crust it makes about 12 cupcakes), and frosting with vegan whipped cream.

S’mores Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can buy them in the baking aisle)
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter, and stir in with graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Line 20 muffin cups with paper liners, and place 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture in each cup, pressing down with a small flat-bottomed cup. Bake for about 5 minutes, until base hardens. Set aside and make cake batter.

Chocolate Cake *see note below

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water, oil and vanilla, and whisk until incorporated completely. Add chocolate and stir until just incorporated. Fill prepared cupcake papers 3/4 full with batter. Should stretch to make about 20 cupcakes. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean of cake batter (it may have a little melted chocolate on it, and that’s ok). Allow to cool for 10 minutes on cooling rack, and then remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely.

Marshmallow Frosting (or 7-minute frosting)

6 large egg whites**
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over medium saucepan of barely simmering water (you can put it in a double boiler, but then you have to transfer it to a mixer bowl, and this way is much easier). Stir the mixture with a whisk, cooking until the sugar has completely melted, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed, adding the vanilla while mixing, for about 7 minutes.

To pipe the frosting: Place pastry bag with tip cut off (or ziplock bag with one corner cut off) in a large glass and fold the sides of the pastry bag over the sides of the glass (if you shop at Trader Joe’s and use their coffee, I’ve found that their coffee containers work perfectly for this!). Fill bag with frosting and pipe onto cupcakes. If you have a kitchen torch, AWESOME! Use it to “toast the marshmallow.” Otherwise, you can do what I did and just sprinkle some extra graham cracker crumbs on top. Voila! S’mores!

*Note about cake: to make a plain chocolate snack cake, prepare an 8×8 square pan or a 9″ round pan by spraying with baking spray with flour, pour batter into pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. You can either leave it in the pan and allow to cool completely, then just serve from the pan, or you can cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and allow to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a simple weeknight dessert, or frost with about a cup of whatever frosting you’d like.

**Note about egg whites: I’m always looking for things to do with my egg yolks, and vice-versa.  You can store yolks in the fridge for up to two days, covered with water.  You can store whites in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze them for a year!  Anyway, here’s an idea for your yolks: meyer lemon bars...I made them, and they’re fantastic!!

 

Margaux says . . .

I always make my sister-in-law a heart-shaped cake for her birthday, since her birthday is on February 16th. When we were in high school and college, it was usually the cake my grandma always made for Valentine’s day, Martha Washington cherry cake, which was basically a white cake with cherry chips and pecans in it, and pink 7-minute frosting. Now I get more sophisticated. This year I made her a cake from my latest favorite cake book, Rose Levy Berenbaum’s “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.” I’m a little obsessed with it, and have made several cakes from it in the past few months, including these.

All the cakes I’ve made from this book are amazing, including this one. The cake is incredibly moist, made even more rich and moist by poking holes in it and brushing glaze over it. It’s best served with chilled whipped cream.

Double Chocolate Valentine
adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Berenbaum

the cake
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sifted unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 tbsp water, room temperature
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp sifted cake flour
1 cup superfine sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
9 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

Grease one 9 by 2-inch heart shaped or round cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper, then coat with baking spray and cocoa powder or flour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. To speed cooling, place it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before proceeding.

In another bowl, whisk the yolks, the 3 tablespoons of water, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on a medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze.

the ganache glaze
3 oz. dark chocolate, 60-62% cacao, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream

In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a one cup or larger microwavable cup with a spout (or in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often), scald the cream (heat it to boiling point; small bubbles will form around the edges).

With the motor of the food processor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth. Scrape the ganache into a small bowl and set it in a warm spot.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke holes all over the top with a wooden skewer, and use a brush to dabble half of the ganache glaze onto the cake. It will take about 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula around the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a flat surface, such as a cardboard round or plate, covered in plastic wrap (you absolutely must use the plastic wrap…I didn’t and really regretted it!). Peel off and discard the parchment and poke holes all over. Dabble with the remaining glaze, brushing a little onto the sides of the cake as well. Cool completely, for 1 or more hours, or until the chocolate is firm to the touch. Invert the cake onto another cardboard round or completely flat plate covered with plastic wrap. It is now top side up with plastic wrap sticking to it. Peel off the plastic wrap, then reinvert the cake onto a serving plate so that it is bottom side up; remove the remaining plastic wrap.

the raspberry topping
2 pints fresh raspberries
1/4 cup red currant jelly or apple jelly

Starting at the outside border and working in toward the center, place the raspberries closely together to cover the surface of the cake. In a microwave, or small heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the jelly. Use a small clean brush to paint the jelly glaze onto the raspberries.

the whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1 tbsp superfine sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. (Chill the mixer’s whisk beater alongside the bowl.) Whip the mixture, starting on low speed, gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens, just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

Margaux says…

My good friend Anne’s birthday was this week, and of course I had to make her a cake.  I’ve been wanting to make this cake for awhile…ever since the cookbook its in, “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” by Rose Levy Beranbaum, was open to its page on the counter of my pastry-chef friend Misa’s kitchen.  The cookbook is gorgeous…Rose’s cakes are stunning, and the other ones I’ve made so far are delicious.  But this particular recipe intrigued me, mainly because I think it’s fun making cakes with unlikely ingredients, like one of my favorites, chocolate Guinness cake.  Because there’s a million other cakes on my “must make” list, it took me awhile to get around to it.  But Anne asked for chocolate, and this cake immediately came to mind.

The cake is rich and dense, with a unique tangy flavor from the soup.  The ganache frosting was my favorite part about it though…very decadent.  And I had to decorate it just like the photo in the book!  I know that’s very unimaginative of me, but its just too cute to pass up.

Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache

from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

~~~Be sure to make the ganache plenty of time beforehand…it takes several hours to set!~~~

1 cup plus 2 tbsp sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1 can (1 cup) Campbell’s Tomato Soup
4 large eggs, room temp (3/4 cup)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups plus 2 tbsp sifted cake flour
2 cups superfine sugar**
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

Coat two 9×2″ round cake pans with shortening, then line with parchment paper, then coat with baking spray, and dust with flour. (FYI-I actually just line with parchment rounds, then coat the rounds and sides of the pans with shortening, and that always works just fine). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set oven rack in lower third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa, tomato soup, eggs and vanilla until smooth. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and half the cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to me3dium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, with the mixer off between additions, add the remaining cocoa mixture in two parts. Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans, being sure to press the thick and fluffy batter against the sides of the pans, and smooth the surfaces evenly.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (check a little early…mine was done in 29 minutes), or until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and invert the cakes onto wire racks that have been coated lightly with cooking spray. Re-invert them right side up to prevent splitting. Cool completely.

Mystery Ganache

12 oz. dark chocolate, 60%-62% cacao, chopped
12 oz. (almost 1 1/2 cups) heavy cream
1/4 cup Campbell’s Tomato Soup
1 tube red tinted buttercream (it’s fine to use the Wilton tubed variety) (optional)
2 cans 4″ Pirouette Rolled Wafer Cookies, preferably Pepperidge Farms (optional)

In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a 4 cup or larger microwaveable cup with a spout (or in a medium saucepan, stirring often), whisk together the cream and tomato soup and scald it (heat it to boiling point; small bubbles will form around the periphery).

With the motor of a food processor running, pour the cream mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few se3conds until smooth. Scrape the ganache into a glass bowl and allow it to sit for 1 hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool at room temperature for several hours, or until the mixture reaches frosting consistency (I finally stuck it in the fridge for a few hours…just make sure you check it every once in awhile so it doesn’t get too thick!). The ganache keeps for 3 days at room temperature, for 3 weeks refrigerated, and for 6 months frozen.

Compose the cake:
When the cakes are completely cool, spread a little ganache on a serving plate and set the first layer on top. Slide a few wide strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean. Spread about 1 cup of the ganache over the layer. Place the second layer on top and use the remainder to frost the top and sides. With the tip of a 1 1/4″ wide metal spatula, make wavy lines through the ganache on top of the cake. Slowly slide the paper strips from under the cake. If storing the cake under a cake dome, allow the ganache to set for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight before applying the Pirouettes or the moisture from the ganache will soften them.

To surround the cake with the Pirouettes, you may first have to trim them to 4 inches (I didn’t, and I wish I would have), using a small serrated knife. Repair any broken ones using ganache and press them gently against the sides of the cake. The ganache will hold them in place. If desired, pipe little flames of red buttercream on top of each Pirouette.

**My cakes would sometimes (a lot of times, actually) be really dense at the bottom, and light at the top, and wouldn’t be as high as they should have been. I started looking into it, and learned that sugar actually varies by region; some places coarser than others. If your sugar is too coarse, it will cause the cake to fall, creating a dense, sort of custardy cake. I guess I live in a coarse sugar region. So the solve is to either process your sugar in a blender (not a food processor) for a few pulses until it’s finer (but be careful not to do too many pulses, because it will start to turn into powdered sugar), or buy superfine sugar, available at most grocery stores.