Happy New Year!
So sorry for the slow start to the year. I'm hopeful that that's not an indication of how my blogging-year will be...
But if the start of 2014 is any indication as to how our family will be eating this year, then I suppose we're in pretty good shape.
To start off the year, I want to share with you the way we ended our year - little man celebrated his third birthday. Three years?? How in the world did that happen??
To celebrate our little guy, we wanted a special treat. He wanted cupcakes. And he wanted chocolate. And then his sister recommended s'mores. Oh yes, these are definitely my kids.
The biggest issue with s'mores cupcakes is the marshmallow frosting. Most marshmallow frosting is meringue frosting - with egg whites as a base. While he can eat eggs in small doses baked into things (like, one baked into a dozen cupcakes), I don't feel comfortable using an egg-white frosting. And I've had trouble finding an egg-free version. But since this was a special birthday, I did more searching.
And soon found several recipes worth trying.
I didn't start the cupcakes intending to blog them, so I apologize for the lack of photos. But as we went on, we could tell that these were working out really well.
To set the foundation for our "s'more," I made a quick, small graham cracker crust. I used coconut oil instead of butter to keep these as allergen-free as possible.
I baked the cupcakes right into the par-baked cookie crusts - no cupcake liners.
Once the cupcakes cooled, it was time to make things fun. I started by making a dairy-free ganache, and drizzled that on top of the chocolate cupcakes. I happened to have a few tablespoons of extra graham cracker crumbs after making the crust mixture, so I then sprinkled those on top of the ganache.
Because... why not?
And then it was time to add the frosting! I generally don't mind not having a real piping set, but I do admit that, in this case, it would have been a big help.
But my plastic bag worked out okay, and the cupcakes looked like a lot of fun.
Now, I wish I had a better "finished product" photo to share with you. But it's winter, and we made these for an afternoon celebration, so the light was not cooperating. And then... well... we were too busy eating them to remember to take pretty pictures.
But let me tell you - these were outstanding. Everyone loved them. Little man thought they were awesome, little miss went for second (and tried to go for thirds...), and all of our family who came to celebrate with us left with big smiles, not to mention extra cupcakes to enjoy later.
So here's to a delicious 2014! I can't wait to share it with you!
(from a variety of sources!)
For the graham cracker cupcake bottoms:
Approximately 10 squares of graham crackers, crushed to crumbs (to make about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of crumbs)
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and coconut oil until well incorporated. Divide mixture between the twelve wells of a muffin tin and press in to form to the shape of the muffin tin.
Bake for about 5-7 minutes to set the cookie base.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool as you prepare the cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:
(makes 12 cupcakes)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk, room temperature (I used coconut milk)
1 large egg, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
Place rack in center of oven and heat to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with 12 paper liners (unless using graham cracker crumb bottoms!) and set aside.
In a large bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer), combine cocoa, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter, milk, egg, and vanilla. Using a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed, or your stand mixer on medium speed, beat for two minutes. Add boiling water and beat to combine (batter will be thin). Divide batter evenly between cupcake wells/liners.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the ganache:
(makes a lot more than you'll need, but put the extra in the fridge and enjoy it over the next few days!)
1 cup unsweetened plain soymilk (I used coconut milk)
2 ½ cups dark dairy-free chocolate chips
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the soymilk (coconut milk) and chocolate chips. Stirring frequently, cook until the mixture is well combined and the chocolate has a glossy finish. Remove the ganache from the heat. Use while warm or slightly cooled.
For the marshmallow frosting:
(from The Urban Poser)
(makes about twice as much as you need, but, if stored in an airtight container, holds as marshmallow cream very well)
1 cup water (split in half)
1 cup mild honey, (I like a mild honey, you can even get away with less honey if desired) (I actually used sugar this time, to stick to the true marshmallow flavor for the s'mores inspiration)
1 tablespoon gelatin
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
In a the bowl of your stand mixer, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of water.
While the gelatin is softening, pour the other 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan along with the honey (sugar), vanilla and the salt. Turn the burner to a medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
Place a candy thermometer in the saucepan and continue to gently boil the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees (the soft ball stage). This will take approx. 7-8 min. Immediately remove from the sauce pan from the heat.
Turn the stand mixer to low/med. Slowly pour the sugar mixture into the bowl combining it with the softened gelatin. Turn the mixer to high and continue beating the mixtures until it becomes thick like marshmallow creme (about 10 min).
To assemble the final cupcakes:
Once the cupcakes have cooled, drizzle about a tablespoon of ganache over the top of each. I had a few extra graham cracker crumbs, so I sprinkled them over the warm ganache. Set the cupcakes aside to let the ganache set.
Once the ganache has set, pipe the marshmallow frosting over the top.