So my last post over a year ago was about cupcakes, and my triumphant return is about cupcakes too. I'm ok with this. I swear I'm not a one trick pony.
I recently got a new camera! Well, sort of. It's more of a shared custody situation. Pretty soon there will be arguments over who gets it for the weekend, or Christmas Eve or Day, and it needs to be home by 6 O'CLOCK!! And by God, it better have had a good dinner...
In any case, it's a total game changer for my food photography, mostly because of it's low-light performance. A tripod isn't always practical in my set up so capturing usable handheld images in dim lighting is awesome since I'm not home in the middle of the afternoon. My D80 is great, but the D7100 is baller!
Onto the food! These cupcakes may have been the best cupcakes I've ever made. If you're a fan of s'mores then you'd probably agree. Graham cracker crust, moist chocolate cake filled with soft chocolate ganache, dipped in more graham crackers and topped with an oh-so-sticky and fluffy toasted marshmallowy meringue frosting.
This recipe has a lot of components, but I swear they are all very simple and undemanding. You could even break this recipe down and complete it over the course of 2 days as the baked, unfrosted cupcakes would keep just beautifully in an airtight container overnight.
(Makes 24-30 cupcakes)
For the cake:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs, divided
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp all natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup VERY hot coffee
For the ganache:
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
For the meringue frosting:
6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners. To make the graham cracker crust, mix 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter in a small bowl until well combined. Evenly pack 1 Tablespoon of graham mixture into each cupcake liner (a shot glass works well for this.) Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes, or just until lightly browned, and set aside to cool.
2. To make the cupcakes, Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment just for a moment until well combined. In another large bowl mix together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, then add to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and continue mixing for another 2 minutes. Add the hot coffee and mix to combine. The batter will be very runny, this is fine!!
3. Carefully fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full with cupcake batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on cooling racks and let the cakes cool in the tins for about 5 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely. At this point you can place the cupcakes in an airtight container if you'd like to decorate them the following day.
4. To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate into a large bowl. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a bare simmer, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for about a minute, then whisk together the chocolate and cream until uniform and shiny. Set aside at room temperature to cool and set.
5. To make the meringue frosting, mix the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved (you will feel no granules of sugar when you rub it between your fingers) and is warm to the touch, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to the stand mixer and bean with the whisk attachment, gradually increasing the speed from low to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add the vanilla bean scrapings or vanilla extract and bean until combined. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with your favorite decorating tip.
6. To assemble, Cut a small hole into the top of each cupcake and fill with a heaping teaspoon of cool ganache. Cover the hole back up with the bit of removed cake and spread a small amount of ganache to cover the top of the cupcake. Dip into the remaining 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs to cover the ganache. Pipe a generous portion of meringue frosting on the center of the graham-cracker-dipped cupcakes. Using a small kitchen torch, carefully "toast" the meringue frosting. Decorate with a small piece of chocolate or piece of graham cracker if desired. Enjoy!
(Cake recipe adapted from Trophy Cupcakes)