When it comes to making S’mores, the incredibly sweet combination of graham crackers, chocolate, and toasted marshmallows, I could never understand the infatuation. It was the fact that the chocolate never melted, no matter how hot the marshmallows got. Now that I know how to alter recipes to suit my own tastes, I have figured a way to get exactly what I want in a S’more … lightly warm the graham crackers in the oven, shave chocolate over the top of them and then top with toasted marshmallows. By the time you put the marshmallows on top, the chocolate is already mostly melted and the hot melted marshmallows will smear perfectly. Ahhh, finally the perfect S’more!
With summer right around the corner where I live and already in full swing in much of the country, what better way to celebrate Chocolate Monday than with a fun interpretation of a childhood treat. Sitting around the campfire, singing songs, and roasting marshmallows is such an American image and one that most of us of a certain age experienced. I still love toasting marshmallows, but these days it is usually over the barbecue in the backyard.
There are many different interpretations of S’mores, but one that really caught my eye was an entry in the sensational cookbook, The Charleston Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Heart of the Old South, written by my friend, the delightful and affable Holly Herrick. A citizen of the gracious city of Charleston, South Carolina since 2000, Holly is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author, esteemed restaurant critic, and a graduate of Boston College and recipient of Le Grande Diplome in pastry and cuisine from the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France.
If you are traveling to the South and love good food, you definitely should check out Holly’s “Food Lovers’ Guide to Charleston & Savannah.” I have already pre-ordered her “Tart Love: Sassy, Savory, and Sweet” which is due out this fall. And for a true taste of the South, use her “Southern Farmers Market Cookbook” to discover new ways to infuse Southern charm into fresh, local ingredients. She features recipes from Florida, Alabama and Mississippi up to Kentucky and Tennessee. Encouraging you to step outside your comfort zone, she gives you the information, ideas, and skills to be happy doing so. Holly has a wonderful way of writing that instantly charms you and makes you want to settle into a big over-stuffed chair with a cup of tea to read her books like they were novels.
The recipe is from Cupcake, a bakery in Charleston founded by Kristin Kuhlke Cobb in 2006. She has been in the spotlight ever since, including being featured in USA Today, Budget Travel Magazine, on Martha Stewart Radio and the Ellen Degeneres website. Some of her cupcake recipes are family favorites that she has loved her entire life, others are inspired by her regular trips to the ice cream aisle of the grocery store. Yes, you heard me correctly, Kristin gets a lot of her inspiration from ice cream flavors. Favorites such as Neapolitan, Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Creamsicle, and Mint Chocolate Chip were created directly from the ice cream beckoning to her from the cold case. With over 45 flavors, there is something to peak everyone’s interest at Cupcake.
The original recipe uses a chocolate chip cupcake which is absolutely wonderful, but because there are so many chocoholics out there … and you know who you are … I am also including a recipe for a chocolate cupcake that will give you even more intense chocolate flavor and pleasure, LOL. The chocolate cupcakes come from the cookbook “Spago Chocolate.” Packed full of amazing desserts, if you are a chocoholic, this is one book you definitely need to own. Running the gamut from cakes, pies, and tarts to souffles, brulees, cookies, and frozen desserts, there is something for everyone in these pages. These cupcakes have a secret stash of chocolate in the center which becomes molten when baked. Sort of like a volcano cake, but neatly wrapped in a package, your guests will be thrilled when they bite into these cupcakes and discover the hidden pocket of chocolate!
Using a fun paper cupcake liners is like beautiful gift-wrap and really sets off your desserts. For these I love using a black and white design such as ivy, houndstooth, or gingham. You can use solid black or natural unbleached for a more rustic look. If you want, you can use silicone liners that are reusable and help save the environment; try these from Wilton.
Also, if you make the chocolate cupcakes, you may want to forego the ganache layer and use a butane torch to lightly toast the marshmallow frosting. It will give you the beautiful browned peaks, the same as you have with Lemon Meringue Pie or Baked Alaska. No matter what flavors or techniques you use, your family and friends will be wowed by these cupcakes with their towering frosting caps. Take a bite and you’ll swear you’re camping in the outdoors – they are so good you can almost smell the smoke from the campfire!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you look at the recipe for the frosting, don’t be put off by the amount of sugar in it. It is required to help get the lift and stiffness needed to make the top look like a soft-serve ice cream cone.
Kitchen Skill: Filling a Piping Bag
Set the tip you are using inside the piping bag and twist the bag tight just above the tip several times. Set the bag, with the tip bent to the side, in a medium tall drinking glass. Fold the top of the bag down, creating a “cuff.” Use a rubber spatula to fill the bag about 2/3 full. Unroll the top cuff and either twist the top shut or pinch and roll it tightly.
When you are ready to pipe, remove the bag from the glass, untwist the bottom opening up the tip, and squeeze to force the frosting down into the tip. Do a couple of practice sweeps to get any air bubbles out of the frosting and then you are good to go.
This technique not only keeps the frosting (or other ingredient) from dripping before you are ready, but it also keeps the frosting soft and pliable.
- 2-1/2 cups cake flour
- 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter, at room temperature
- 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff (prepared jarred product)
- 9 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs, sifted to remove large chunks
- Chocolate Ganache Dip
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- Graham cracker “sticks”
- Mini chocolate chip, optional instead of ganache
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place paper cupcake liners in muffin tins.
- To Make the Cupcakes: Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
- Separately, beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla and mix well.
- Gradually fold in the flour mixture with a spatula, adding a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop the batter into prepared cupcake tins using an ice cream scoop, filling each one about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 18 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove pans from the oven and cool cupcakes on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, Prepare the Frosting: Beat the butter in a large bowl with a handheld mixer until fluffy. Add the vanilla and Marshmallow Fluff. Slowly add the sugar and milk, beating at medium speed, alternately adding small portions of each. Beat in the graham cracker crumbs at low speed.
- Using a pastry bag with a rounded tip, ice each cooled cupcake with a generous swirl of frosting (approximately 2 tbsp each). See Note below. Line the cupcakes on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to set the frosting.
- To Prepare the Ganache: Heat half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it just begins to simmer. Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and pour the hot half-and-half over them. Stir with a wooden spoon until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- To Dip Cupcakes: Turn each cupcake upside down and dip briefly in the ganache. Alternately, you can pipe the ganache in a spiral over the top of the frosting. Turn back upright and set back on baking sheet. Top each cupcake with a few mini marshmallows and pierce the top with a graham cracker stick.
- If dipping the frosting in ganache is too much work for you or it makes you nervous, you can sprinkle the tops with mini chocolate chips instead. They will be just as fun!
- Yield: 20 to 24 cupcakes
- To pipe the frosting in a soft-serve ice cream cone style, squeeze the bag firmly and starting in the center, start piping a thick line out to the edge and around the top of the cupcake. When you get back to the place you started, keep piping without stopping, on top of the first line of frosting to create a spiral with a peak at the top.
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 4 oz milk or semisweet chocolate, cut into thick chunks
- Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter, spray with vegetable spray, or line 12 large muffin cups with paper cups.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle or beaters, on medium speed, beat the butter until softened. Gradually add the sugar, turn the speed to high and continue to beat until fluffy, several minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and orange zest. Beat until well incorporated. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat in. Then beat in 1/2 of the sour cream. Continue adding the flour and sour cream alternately, ending with the flour.
- Fill each muffin cup about halfway up. Place a few pieces of the chocolate in the center of each cup. Fill with the remaining batter, almost to the top of each cup.
- Bake 25 minutes. Do not overbake. Set the pan on a rack for about 5 minutes and then remove the cupcakes, placing them on the rack to finish cooling. Can be made several hours ahead to this point.
- Yield: 12 large cupcakes