Friday, September 30, 2011

S'mores Cupcakes with Scotch Whiskey Marshmallow Icing

This week was my youngest daughter, Rachel's, 21st birthday!  I can't believe my baby is 21, when did I get to be so darn old?  To celebrate we are heading to Washington D.C. where Rachel is a photojournalism student.  We will go to the National Zoo where Rachel works as a volunteer in the invertebrate house, will definitely spend some time trudging around the museums and will probably eat in a lot of the city's great restaurants.  I am excited.

I wanted to create a cupcake for Rachel's birthday that captures her love of candy, nature, and since it's her 21st birthday, has some booze in it!   I came up with these little beauties.  S'mores cupcakes!

The first problem with capturing the flavor of a s'more is getting a cake that tastes like graham crackers.  The solution?  Substitute crushed graham crackers for part of the flour!  These cakes are exceptionally delicious on their own.  They are dense and chewy and buttery and... well, just YUMMY.  I filled them with ganache and topped them with a fluffy dollop of home made marshmallow cream infused with smoky scotch for that real campfire flavor.  If you want, you can use water instead of scotch, but why would you do that?

Finally I toasted the marshmallow icing with a small butane blow torch. (alternatively you can just brown these under the broiler in your oven).

I can't wait to present these to Rachel!  Happy Birthday sweetie!

S'mores Cupcakes with Scotch Whiskey Marshmallow Icing
makes about 18

Step One: Make ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Heat cream in a small heavy saucepan over high heat until it boils.  Remove from heat, and add chocolate chips.  Stir until smooth and glossy.  Transfer to a shallow bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 hours, stirring every hour, until ganache is set and has the consistency of chocolate pudding.

Step Two: Make the graham cracker cakes

1 1/2 cups of finely ground graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup of flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup of sugar
2 eggs room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3/4 cup of milk
1 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt, stir until well combined.

In another bowl cream the softened butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in vanilla.

Add 1/4 cup of milk and mix to combine, then ad 1/2 of the cracker/flour mixture and mix until combined. Repeat, alternating between wet and dry ingredients until everything is added.  fold in the miniature chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly between 18 paper-lined cupcake wells.  Bake 25 minutes.  Cool completely.

Step Three: Fill the cupcakes with ganache.

After the ganache has set up to the consistency of pudding, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a round metal tip with a wide opening (about the diameter of a pencil).  Pierce each cupcake in the center with a knife, then insert the tip of the piping bag and fill each cupcake with 1-2 Tbsp. of chocolate ganache.

Step 4:  Make the Marshmallow Icing.

2 tsp (one envelope) unflavored gelatin
2 Tbsp scotch whiskey (or water)
1 cup sugar (separated into two portions of 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 Tbsp  water
pinch of salt
3 egg whites

In a small microwave-proof bowl, place the scotch whiskey (or water). Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and allow to soften.

In a medium sized heavy saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, corn syrup and water.  Bring to a boil, with stirring, over high heat until sugar is dissolved.  Reduce heat and keep syrup warm.

Combine egg whites and salt in a clean bowl and whip until frothy and light, then with mixer still running, gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and beat on high heat until whites are stiff and glossy.  With mixer still running on medium speed, slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites.  Once all the syrup has been added, increase speed to high and whip for 5 minutes.

Heat gelatin in microwave for 15 seconds until it is completely melted, then pour into egg whites with mixer running.  Whip until gelatin is completely incorporated.  Transfer to a Piping bag and frost cupcakes immediately before marshmallow sets.

Step Five. Toasting the cupcakes.
Allow marshmallow icing to set up for 30 minutes.  With a hand held blow torch, gently toast the marshmallow icing.  Alternatively, this can be done under the broiler in the oven, but watch carefully so as not to burn!

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