According to Wikipedia, the first recipe for s'mores was found in Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts of 1927. The original recipe was simple and lists s'mores as we know it today:
Place a square of milk chocolate on a graham cracker. Toast a marshmallow and put on top of the chocolate, then a second graham cracker on top of the toasted marshmallow and squeeze and you will want "s'more".
Pretty cute, right?
Since then, s'mores have taken on different shapes and sizes. Just googling around, there are a TON of recipes for different s'mores desserts: brownies, ice cream cakes, cookie bars, pie and even macarons!
My favorite s'mores variation, however, have always been cupcakes. After spotting such pretty versions from Linda and Kristin, I decided to recreate them for myself. My cupcakes are a little bit more, um... shall we say unrestrained? Especially since my version has three types of chocolate and two types of graham flavors:
Okay, wait, hold the phone. Three types of chocolate and two types of graham flavor??? What on earth does that even mean?!
Well, lemme break it down for you.
Let's start from the top. Each individual cupcake has its own buttery, crunchy graham cracker crust as a base:
As for the graham, I also used a generous amount of graham flour in the batter to give the cake a hearty crumb. What is graham flour? I've written about its history in this recipe for whole grain chocolate muffins, but a quick recap is this: graham flour is a type of high-fiber, vitamin-dense whole wheat flour that was used in the original graham cracker recipe back in the mid 1800s. Unfortunately, graham crackers back then were chalky, tasteless and generally terrible since they consisted of only graham flour and water. Graham crackers today are much, much better, especially since, you know, they now have butter and sugar.
But why would I add such a weirdly healthy and kind of hippie ingredient to chocolate cake? Because together with chocolate, graham flour works magic. I swear to god it adds a flavor that's reminiscent of toasted nuts that, in this particular cupcake recipe, is further enhanced by the graham cracker crumb base. It's all sorts of amazing and wonderful.
(PS — if you're keeping count, that's TWO types of graham right there. That's what puts the DOUBLE in this recipe for Double Graham S'Mores. BOOMCHICKABOOM.)
Now let's move on to the next levels of the cupcake, shall we? Because on top of the chocolate graham cake sits a melty chocolate butter frosting reminiscent of the classic Hershey bar chocolate from all our childhoods (BOOM!!! Third type of chocolate, putting the Triple in the Triple Chocolate S'mores — I'm a lady of my word) BUT NOT GROSS AND WAXY (am I the only person who feels this way about Hershey's chocolate? Is that an unpopular opinion?). And on top of the chocolate frosting sits a beautiful light-as-a-feather toasted marshmallow meringue icing:
So contrary to what you see in this picture above, the marshmallow meringue icing isn't made from the weird, super-processed, jet-puffed marshmallows you get in the supermarket made from all sorts of terrible chemicals and extra animal parts. Instead, this icing comes from a homemade candy syrup whipped up with egg whites to create marshmallow meringue — meaning that it is 100% vegetarian. Seriously, so many of my tree-hugging Portland friends at my rock climbing gym cried tears of joy when I told them that they could eat these marshmallow topped cupcakes.
And there you have it! My s'mores cupcake breakdown shakedown! Enjoy — this recipe's definitely going in the Classics (a.k.a. best recipes eveerrr) section of my Recipe Index. It's one of my favorites of the year so far, and maybe even on the blog as a whole. It's that good. Promise.
Some baker's notes:
- Graham flour is available online or in specialty health food stores. One of my favorite things about graham flour is that it lasts longer than other whole grain flours, so you can buy in bulk and use throughout the year. It especially works well in chocolate baked goods, and you can substitute graham flour for up to half of all-purpose flour in lighter baked goods. However, I wouldn't use it in white cakes or angel food cakes since it tends to be heavier.
- This chocolate graham cake is adapted from a recipe for double chocolate cake from Miette, one of my favorite cookbooks from an adorable bakery in San Francisco. Their chocolate cake recipe is one of my favorites to make and play around with — the cake isn't that sweet, and instead has a rich, complex and bittersweet chocolate flavor. In addition to its flavor, the cake is crazy moist and has a wonderfully delicate and light crumb that's achieved by a rather weird method: straining the batter through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any lumps, as opposed to trying to stir them into the batter. I know that it's kind of fussy but straining the batter prevents the overmixing that leads to dense, heavy cake. It's worth it to strain, I promise.
- Similarly, the marshmallow meringue icing comes from Miette as well. Unfortunately, the icing tends to deflate overnight, so it's best to make and consume the icing on the same day.
- I used a chef's torch to lightly toast the marshmallow meringue and give it that pretty, toasted look. If you don't have a chef's torch, you can use your oven broiler. Place the cupcakes on a cookie sheet in the top shelf of the oven and broil for a minute to get a nice toasty marshmallow look — but watch the cupcakes carefully, since the meringue turns to brown and burn fast. There's no saving them once they're burned.
- a fine-mesh sieve
- a candy thermometer (I use this digital one by CDN and love it so, so much)
- a culinary chef's torch
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup graham flour
- 1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ounces 70% cocoa chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
For the Chocolate Butter Frosting:
(makes about 1 cup, enough for a thin layer of frosting on 24 cupcakes)
- 4 ounces 70% cacao chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare 2 muffin trays by lining each cavity with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, use a rubber spatula to stir together 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 5 tablespoons melted and cooled unsalted butter until evenly coated.
- Use a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon to portion out a tablespoon sized scoop of the mixture in the bottom of each baking cup. Use your fingers (or one of these nifty tart tampers) to press down the graham cracker crumbs to the bottom of each liner until they form a solid crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes to allow the base to harden, before transferring to wire racks to cool for a minimum of 15 minutes. While the graham cracker crusts are cooling, make the chocolate cake batter. Be sure to keep the oven on!
- To make the chocolate cake batter, whisk together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup graham flour, 1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in medium bowl until fully incorporated. Set aside.
- Place 2 ounces finely chopped 70% cocoa chocolate in a medium, heatproof bowl (preferably with a spout or a rim to make your life easier) and pour 1 cup boiling water over the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is melted, and allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1 cup buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk 2 large eggs on medium-high speed until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to its lowest setting and slowly pour in 1/2 cup vegetable oil, whisking for 30 to 60 seconds until combined.
- With the mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Once the chocolate has been added, slowly pour in the buttermilk and vanilla mixture. Add 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth and liquid, about 2 minutes.
- Stop the mixer. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the dry ingredients (from the 2nd step). Use a rubber spatula to mix into the liquid ingredients until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl and lifting and folding in from the bottom and center of the bowl. Whisk until the dry ingredients are just incorporated — at this point, the batter will still look a little lumpy, but that's okay.
- Pour the batter through a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl to remove any lumps. Use a rubber spatula to press against any solids left in the sieve to push through as much batter as possible, but no need to overdo it. Disregard the remaining large lumps.
- Use a 1 tablespoon sized cookie dough scoop to divide the strained batter evenly between the graham-crusted cupcake liners, filling each cup up to two-thirds full with batter (each of my cupcakes had about 2 tablespoons of batter). Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean and the cupcake tops spring back when gently poked. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the pan. When the cupcakes have cooled completely, make the chocolate ganache and marshmallow meringue frostings.
- In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, melt together 4 ounces finely chopped chocolate, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, and 1 teaspoon corn syrup, using a rubber spatula to stir constantly until completely melted and combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool in room temperature for about 20 minutes until mixture thickens to a spreadable consistency.
- Once the mixture is spreadable, work quickly and use a small offset icing spatula to spread about 1 1/2 teaspoons of chocolate on the top of each cupcake. If the frosting hardens too much and becomes difficult to work with, reheat over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes spreadable again.
- In a medium, heavy bottom saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 cup of water. Whisk constantly until the sugar starts to dissolve, continuing to do so until the mixture reaches 240 (F) as measured by a candy thermometer. When the mixture reaches 240 (F), it should be syrupy. Immediately transfer to a heatproof liquid measuring cup and work quickly to make sure that it maintains its temperature.
- In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine 3 large egg whites and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. With the mixture on medium speed, slowly pour the fresh sugar syrup down the side of the mixer bowl. When all the syrup is added, turn the mixer speed to medium-high and whisk until the icing becomes thick and holds a firm peak. Continue to whisk until the icing is just slightly warm and very thick, about 10 minutes total. DO NOT CONTINUE TO BEAT FOR LONGER THAN 10 MINUTES, otherwise the icing will thicken too much, become cement-like and impossible to spread and pipe.
- Use immediately by transferring to a piping bag with a large round tip. Pipe a generous dollop of icing onto each cupcake. Once the cupcakes have all been frosted, use a culinary chef's torch to gently toast each dollop to give it that pretty toasted look. Enjoy immediately!