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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Graham Cracker Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

I work on a small faculty. We used to just have a cake in the teacher's lounge once each month as a celebration for the teachers who had a birthday. Then, it was decided that we would select names and be responsible for celebrating that person's birthday. My birthday partner's birthday is today - Happy Birthday, Diane! 

For her birthday, I agonized over which cupcake to make - I just couldn't decide. I have a bit of anxiety when it comes to baking...especially cupcakes. I don't know why but I saw this as the perfect opportunity to prove to myself that I am capable of making cupcakes. A graham cracker crust, layer of chopped chocolate, chocolate batter, sprinkled with graham crackers and shaved chocolate, and toasted marshmallow frosting. Sounds super complicated, but isn't really - and I did it! Ahem...I DID IT!!!! Happy Birthday, Diane! I hope that you enjoy your day! 

For the cupcake:
2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the frosting:
8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside.

Place graham cracker crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined. Place 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Reserve remaining graham cracker mixture for topping. Place 2 teaspoons chopped chocolate in each muffin cup. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until the edges of the graham cracker mixture is golden, about 5 minutes.

Sift 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine. 

Fill each muffin cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate and graham cracker mixture. Return to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely.

Place egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined.

Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or French tip (such as Ateco #867 or Ateco #809). Pipe frosting in a spiral motion on each cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet. Using a kitchen torch or broiler, lightly brown the frosting. If using a broiler, rotate pan after approximately 2 minutes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, up to 2 days.


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