Saturday, March 26, 2011

May the S'mores Be With You

It's been a while since I've posted on here, and I apologize. I could make excuses: tell you about how I don't own a digital camera and have to borrow one whenever I want to download photos for the blog (true); how I've had the flu (also true); am planning a baby shower (for a friend) and laying groundwork for a cookbook (true); have had to work quite a lot lately (sometimes true, mostly not); but really, I have just not been super motivated. Winter is hard for me -- the lack of sun makes getting up in the morning hard enough some days; I really just want to drink coffee all day, hang out with my friends and watch Doctor Who. Spring is just around the corner, sun and flora following soon after, and I already feel more energized just thinking about it. In fact, I am posting this very recipe because it reminds me of last April and my friend Ryan's birthday. Ryan is a kid at heart and he decided to celebrate his birthday in true child-like fashion: silly games and s'mores.

To be completely honest, these are my favorite of all the cupcakes I've made. The base is classic graham cracker crust with velvet-smooth chocolate cheesecake filling and a scorched meringue top reminiscent of warm, toasted marshmallow. Too decadent, maybe. Rich, surely. Resist-able, certainly not.

First thing: Preheat your oven to 325(f). Line a cupcake pan with the cutest cupcake liners you can find. No need to grease anything. Place your cupcake pan on a sheet pan with a little water. Cheesecake is a custard and cooks much more evenly with a little steam in the oven.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (just smash-em!)
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Graham crust is amazingly easy and hard to resist eating on its own. Simply mix the brown sugar and graham cracker crumbs in a medium sized bowl and slowly pour over the butter and mix with your hand. You may not need all the butter and you may need a touch more, much depends on the humidity. You know it's cheesecake worthy when you can squeeze a small amount in you hand and it keeps its form.

9 ounces bittersweet bakers chocolate, chopped
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or bain marie, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted. Blend your cream cheese, sugar and salt in either a food processor, mixer with a paddle attachment or with a handheld mixer. Heck, you could do it all by hand if you want to work out your biceps. Now add your cream until fully incorporated, followed by your chocolate. Once this is all blended, you can begin SLOWLY adding your eggs. 

Fill your cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake 20 min, then check for "doneness" with a toothpick. They will probably need a few more minutes. These will cook a little differently in every oven, so just be patient. Once the cupcakes are done, let them sit on the counter for 30 min, then cool in the refrigerator uncovered two hours before serving. 


1 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
7 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter (optional -- the cream of tarter just helps stabilize the meringue)

In a small pot over low heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely. Do not stir. Increase the heat and boil to soft ball stage (235 to 240 degrees). Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides. In an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over fluffed egg whites. Beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.

Depending on the look you're going for, use a spoon or a pastry bag to apply the meringue to the tops of your cupcakes just before serving. Use a kitchen torch to make the meringue brown and toasty. You can use the broiler in your oven if you don't have a torch, but it just won't do as well. I highly recommend the small investment.
I hope you enjoy these tasty treats. Happy Spring, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Yummy! I remember those being absolutely delish. Can't wait to make some for myself someday soon!