Cheetos. That's my guilty pleasure food. Crunchy. Cheesy. Powder licking off your fingers. Digging out the last crumb from the corner of the bag. Good.
But, unlike these amazing treats, which need to be made yesterday, they cannot be reproduced. People have tried. I googled it. There's this. And this. But the general consensus was magic is needed to be successful. And then there's this, from Splendid Table, one of my favorite ways to listen to food. But when a snack food takes you days to complete, and then one consumes said food in a matter of minutes, I just don't have the patience.
Then I was tempted to make this. Probably still will, I mean come on, cheetos on vegetables? Genius. But that didn't quite seem to fit the inspiration.
But this post isn't about Cheetos. I instead turned to a favorite of my other half. His birthday was this week and who doesn't want a favorite food on their birthday?
S'mores go with camping like pumpkin spice lattes to a crisp fall day. Or corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick's Day. They don't usually make an appearance any other time of the year. At last not for me. So after you make S'mores on a camping trip or backyard bonfire, you usually have a rather full bag of the sickening sweet treat going stale in your pantry. Oh yes, you can make your own marshmallows, which are lovely in a mug of bourbon and hot chocolate, but I just feel the bagged kind just do better on a stick over a flame. Maybe that's just me.
Anyway, it was Mike's birthday this week and the weather was gorgeous (sorry entire rest of the country) so we decided to check something off our list and give backyard camping a try. Then I thought, S'mores of course. And I was going to make my own graham crackers. But there is a birthday. And a birthday always calls for cake. So I turned to a favorite cookbook from the lovely Mrs. Smitten (that's what Emily and I refer to her as) who features a layered S'mores cake. But with only a few eaters in our house, a cake was too big. I turned the batter (which incorporated ground graham crackers as a flour, again genius) into cupcakes. And her milk chocolate filling became a dark chocolate and sea salt ganache, with coconut cream not because I am vegan (Emily HATES vegan replacements) but because I am lazy and had coconut cream and not real cream and didn't feel like going to the store, again, for the 3rd time that day. And sadly I do not own a blow torch, yet, so I could not torch a marshmallow frosting on top. And the only part of S'mores I actually like is the toasting of the marshmallow, not the actually eating part. Remember, this is not my guilty pleasure. So instead we toasted our own marshmallows and squished them on top. Not pretty but very delicious. I was disappointed the finished cake did not have as much of the graham crackeryness that the batter had. But I don't really know how to fix that. If you do, let me know.
Full disclosure, Mike tells me he would not have picked S'mores as a guilty pleasure. But he admits to liking the sugary blobs and I have seen him eat them right out of the bag, so I am going to call his bluff. Either way, these were a fun change and maybe need to make an appearance outside of a camping trip. And don't worry, even if you aren't living in a place where you can sip a glass of whiskey in your shorts in on your patio in February, you can still toast these marshmallows at a fireplace, or even over a candle. And camp in your living room.
Hey Sis, try this...
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups honey (not cinnamon-sugar topped) graham-cracker crumbs, finely processed to a powder (about 14 2 1/2-by-4 7/8-inch sheets)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken (or 1 1/3 cups milk and 2/3 cup yogurt)
1/2 pound dark chocolate, chopped small
3/4 cup cream, either coconut or regular will work
2 pinches of sea salt, plus more for garnish
Big fluffy marshmallows
Make the cake:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in muffin tins or grease cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, graham-cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, a third of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, and then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing between additions until combined. Scrape down bowl, and mix again briefly if needed.
Divide batter between prepared cake pans, smoothing tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack, then remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Let cool completely, a process you can speed up in the fridge.
Make the Ganache:
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Combine the cream and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate, and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice water, and stir it until it firms up to a spreadable consistency. You can also let it cool down in the fridge, stirring it from time to time so it thickens evenly.
Spread cupcakes with a layer of Ganache and top with a sprinkle of sea salt. Toast marshmallows over chosen flame to preferred darkened consistency. Squish on top of cupcake. If someone is celebrating a birthday, light a candle, make a wish, and blow it out.