I only went to camp once growing up. I was eleven, and had a friend who was going to Camp Skyline in Northern Alabama (please remember that I myself hail from Alabama so it's not like "Camp Skyline on Mars" as that probably sounded to my California friends). It was a two-week session, and a decidedly Christian camp (not that there's anything wrong with that; I was even going to Catholic school at the time, but I will say it was unexpected and I was not used to hearing about our Lord before breakfast). I have memories of terrible homesickness, pathetic letters to my mama (illustrated with stick figures so she could see how I got tangled up in the ropes course), winning a blue ribbon in horseback riding because it was the last day and no one else was competing, but what I don't remember is s'mores. I don't think we had them.
We had s'mores sometimes at my grandparents' lake house, with the Honey Maid graham crackers and the Hershey's chocolate and the...name brand marshmallows...oh yeah...Kraft Jet Puffed...but more of my toasted marshmallow experience involved flaming a fork-speared marshmallow over my mom's gas stove burners ("if it ain't on fire it's not done yet!"). And that's been years, people.
Still, I've been on this cupcake kick (and even did a peach one that I've not shared here, because it's not right yet, mainly because the peaches I have gotten lately have been sub par) and the next showing was between a chocolate peanut butter variety and s'mores. This was discussed in detail in line at my friendly neighborhood grocery store, and s'mores won out, I think because they are more "in season." No fear, the peanut butter ones will be coming up soon. I just couldn't decide what to do first.
I borrowed some (heh, quite a bit) from Annie's Eats again, but the cake is the altered Cooks Illustrated that is now my chocolate cupcake go to recipes because 1.) good and 2.) no mixer needed. I also decided to fill mine, because hurrah! for creamy filling.
These are great because hey, you get to torch them, and also they have a satisfying sweetness without being too heavy. The frosting is very light and marshmallowy (don't worry if you don't love meringue - I don't really either but this is definitely more marshmallow than meringue), the toasting really makes it (just like the toastiness of a s'more marshmallow), and the crisp bottom of the cupcake is a surprise and delight.
Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12; double for this recipe)
(for chocolate-graham cracker bottom)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin or line with baking liners.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar in a small bowl. Place about 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each muffin cup and press out with the back of a spoon to completely cover the bottom. Sprinkle a bit of chocolate on top of the graham cracker bottom. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes and let cool before filling with cake butter.
Combine chocolate, cocoa, espresso powder in a medium mixing bowl and pour hot coffee over. Let sit until chocolate is melted. Stir to combine; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. To chocolate mixture add vinegar, oil, eggs, and vanilla; mix well with fork to combine. Pour over flour mixture and stir well.
Pour the batter into the lined muffin tin (filling about 3/4 full) - the batter will be thin. Bake at 350 for 15 - 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes in pan and then cool completely on a wire rack.
Marshmallow Filling (this makes enough for 24 cupcakes)
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add in sugar and beat on low speed to combine. Add in salt and marshmallow cream, and vanilla; beat to combine and add heavy cream if needed (you want a thick, fluffy filling that is going to pipe easily and not be too firm at room temperature).
For the marshmallow frosting:
8 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler, or set your (immaculate) mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F with an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined.
Bake cupcakes and let cool completely; make filling in the interim. To fill, use either a pastry bag to squeeze a bit of filling into each cupcake, or, as I did in this case, using a sharp knife, remove a cone-shaped portion of the top of each cupcake (discard if desired or snack on or make cake pops or a very small trifle). Fill hollow with marshmallow filling, either by using a pastry bag/resealable plastic bag or with a spoon. Don't worry if the filling mounds over the top; after the filled cupcakes chill, you can easily smooth out the filling. Chill filled cupcakes for half an hour or so; make frosting in the interim. Frost cupcakes as desired (I used a large star tip and just swooped it on).
Filled cupcakes. I had already smooshed the filling down at this point.
Now the fun part - carefully using a kitchen torch, heat the top of each cupcake until just toasty, like a roasted marshmallow. If you really want to get fancy, garnish with some chocolate or graham cracker or heck, stick a sparkler in there if they're legal where you live. Enjoy and celebrate summer!