I asked my 9-year-old what he thought of these. With his mouth full of icing, he said two words: “Life changing.”
Well, now that you know how I feel about foil dinners, I suppose I should continue in my camping cuisine vein, and tell you how I feel about s’mores. Just like with the foil dinners, I am always giddy with anticipation.
I go and find the perfect stick in the woods, whittle down the end, then gather to the fire circle. I patiently wait for the fire to burn down long enough to produce those mesmerizing, delicately glowing embers. Carefully, I tuck my marshmallow stick between a tangle of logs and kindling to nestle my fluffy white pillow of sugar at the perfect distance from the coals. I carefully turn the stick, ever so gently, with such hyper focus that my toddler could wander too close to the fire and I would literally think twice before ditching the stick and running to his rescue. But, luckily that doesn’t happen, and I keep turning, and turning, until I finally achieve the perfect, golden brown marshmallow, filled with a river of warm flowing confection.
Then it falls off the stick.
So I do it all over again.
When the moment of truth finally arrives, and I have my perfectly cooked marshmallow, I race to the chocolate and graham crackers, shove them together. I sink my teeth in, hoping for the magical transcendence that is surely to result from such a tried and true tradition of Americana. And then . . . nothing. Absolutely nothing. The chocolate never melts enough, the marshmallow somehow instantly cools on contact, and my river of warm flowing confection halts mid bite. I think, Are graham crackers always this dry? And why do we have to use Hershey’s? It’s so chalky.
So I think, what it boils down to is, I like the idea of s’mores much more than the actual thing.
I hope with these cupcakes, to bring all the s’morey flavors together without disappointing in that moment of truth. The best thing of all is you get to pull out the kitchen torch. I can’t promise it will be as mesmerizing as those red glowing embers, but it will come close.
This recipe makes 24. If you only have 1 muffin tin, halve the recipe.
2 1/2 cups (360g) whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (30g) oat bran
1/2 cup (30g) wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons, or 170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (165g) brown sugar
3/4 cup (200mL) honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (60g) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (340mL) milk
ganache (recipe follows)
marshmallowy frosting (recipe follows)
2 or three good quality chocolate bars, broken into 24 pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees * (180 degrees Celsius). Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, germ, bran, and cinnamon.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth, about a minute on medium speed. Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more. With mixer on medium-low, add in honey. Then incorporate the eggs, adding them in, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla.
4. With mixer on low, add in a third of the flour mixer, followed by half of the milk and the sour cream. Add in the next third of flour, the remaining milk, and finally the remainder of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fully incorporate the mixture, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
5. With an ice cream scooper, divide up the batter evenly among the paper liners. (I use a scoop that holds 1/3 cup, which works perfectly.) Tap pans on the counter to remove any bubbles.
6. Bake at 350 (180 degrees celsius), or until a toothpick inserted into the center ones comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool in pans for at least ten minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before decorating.
Remove a bit of cake from the top of each cupcake with a melon baller, and using a piping bag or a teaspoon, fill with cooled ganache.
Working quickly, use the ice cream scooper to top each with marshmallowy icing and use the back of a spoon to create little peaks all over the top. (If at any time the icing gets too dry and is no longer smooth, whisk it up again in mixer until smooth.)
Use a kitchen torch to toast the icing.
8. Top each cupcake with a piece of chocolate bar.
for the ganache:
1 cup (240g) heavy cream
1 1/4 cups (212g) chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat cream in a large glass container in the microwave until just boiling, about 60 seconds. Pour in chocolate chips and vanilla and let sit for about 1-2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 10-20 minutes until almost cooled.
for the meringue:
2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250mL) water
8 egg whites
2 teaspoons of very good pure vanilla extract
1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until dissolved. Bring to a boil without stirring, and continue to boil until the temperature reaches the firm ball stage, or 248 degrees.
2. While the sugar syrup comes to temperature, beat egg whites in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup.
3. Gradually increase the speed to high, and whisk meringue until stiff and cool, about 7 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla.