This was the last cupcake I made during my visit to my mom's house. I wasn't going to make any more after the malt shop and the key lime cupcakes, but then my niece Lily looked at me with those big, long-lashed brown eyes and said, "What kind of cupcakes are you making tomorrow, Auntie Rachel?" (This is the same voice she uses when she asks, "So, when are we going to Kohls?")
So I thought about the place we're all from (the primordial ooze! Nope, Mobile, Alabama. Hmm...that still works), and among the many delicacies there (Dew Drop hot dogs! Concecuh sausage! Pollman's Bake Shop!), there is a beautiful place called the Visitation Monastery. There, a group of talented nuns make a candy called "Heavenly Hash" of milk chocolate, local pecans, and homemade marshmallows. As far as I know, you can only get the candy at the gift shop or online, but everyone I knew growing up was thrilled to see the white box and would indulge in some unholy gloating - "I got the big box! No, I'm not sharing!"
Since I had an audience that would appreciate such (we're all Southerners at heart, more or less), I thought of turning the candy into a cupcake. It's really a more angelic Rocky Road, but I wanted the cupcake itself to be smooth and the top to be heavenly. I went back to my favorite chocolate cupcake and marshmallow filling, which I've reprinted here, and the topping could not be easier. It's really just a milk chocolate ganache with toasted pecan bits and marshmallows folded in. It is sticky and sweet and gooey and straight-from childhood. In fact, this particular cupcake was very appropriate to the end of summer, Labor Day, end-of-visit celebration, and, in fact, was a piece of cake.
Note: If you're one of those people who turn up their nose at milk chocolate, don't let me stop you. Go ahead and make it your way with bittersweet. Just remember that you'll need to answer to the nuns. You don't think you know better than the sisters of the Visitation Monastery, do you?
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 (if you have extra batter, fill up more muffin tins. Easy.)
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.
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).
Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a tablespoon of the marshmallow filling (or however much you need). Replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, and then put in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill and set the filling (once cool, it will become very thick and hold the caps in place).
|It's an alien!|
|Really, she has a lovely personality...|
~Heavenly Hash Topping~
One bag (around 11 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (you want some big pieces)
In a saucepan, heat the cream just to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Stir the mixture together until the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth, shiny, liquid. Now, chill the chocolate mixture until it is thickened (probably about two hours - you want to be able to spread it but still work with it easily). Fold in the marshmallows and nuts.
Using a spatula, spread the heavenly hash mixture over the tops of the cupcakes. Just try to be as neat as you can - these cupcakes are not going to win any beauty contests, but they don't care anyway. Return the cupcakes to the refrigerator, and if you can, chill them overnight to let the frosting fully set up before serving.