This time a cupcake craving had taken hold. I found my chocolate deficit a little to much to handle, too. Then, a candy bar commercial (okay, it was Hershey's) with Rascal Flatts starring and the s'mores making taking place around the little gathering of all beautiful, skinny people chowing Hershey bars, graham crackers and toasted marshmallows, just about did me in! I said, "That's it--I want s'mores!" That's when the cookbooks came out, pans were sprayed and flour, sugar, graham crackers and chocolate gathered--then this lovely gem of a dessert: vegan s'mores cupcakes had arrived! All without fear of fire, sticks and melty sugar coating my hands. Will miracles never cease?
Where did my s'mores encounter first take place--why with the Girl Scouts, of course! Where did s'mores originate, why with the Girl Scouts, of course! S'mores is shorthand for "Some more." First noted publication of said s'mores appeared in "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts" 1927 (thanks Wikipedia for this little known factoid). Odd choice of title: tramping? Anyhow, essential to the s'mores creation were some graham crackers. I happen to love graham crackers--in fact, Teddy Grahams were at my desk quite often in my Dilbert Days.
My bottoms. All sprayed (with my clogged baking spray which seems to happen every gosh darn time I buy that stuff). But the whole two-step method of spreading with butter or veggie shortening, THEN coating with flour is too much work for Vegan Thyme. I opt to spray.
We aren't planning a big campfire any time soon, nor will there be outside sleeping--seriously, sleep? . . . outside? With. . . bugs, no air conditioning? Please. No thank you. My little home satisfies all 'back to nature moments' just fine. But it didn't seem right to go through summer without revisiting one of my long time faves: s'mores. I was sure I had a recipe for s'mores cupcakes sitting around. I had, of course, plenty of options to sort through on the internet. Plenty. But then I know what my cravings demanded: a little buttercream frosting, a little graham and a TON of chocolate! My s'more cupcakes don't call for a kitchen torch or marshmallows, though I am certain that if that were how you wanted to roll--with marshmallows, there's no reason not to run out to Whole Foods to grab a bag of those yummy vegan kind.
These were, in a word: DELISH! I used two Texas-sized cupcake pans because when it comes to cupcakes--I sort of need two of the "usual" sized ones and thought I'd alleviate the need to feel so "badly" over eating two by simply making my cupcakes a wee bit larger--thus requiring I eat only one--feeling much less guilty over it in the end. I would make one modification to these next time and that is, I'd add more graham cracker crumbs to the bottom of the cupcakes. Other than that--you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to toppings: you could go all ganache, for instance--then sprinkle with graham. You could add graham to the top, then bake, then pipe buttercream frosting over that--it's all very flexible as long as you have: chocolate, graham crackers and something representing marshmallows.
Vegan S'mores Cupcakes
(Adapted from Black Bottom Cupcakes in Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker--a cookbook I never tire of!)
For graham cracker bottom:
1-to-1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs made from whole graham crackers
4 tablespoons melted vegan butter
1/4 cup Florida Crystals sugar
For chocolate cupcake filling:
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil or sunflower oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons vegan cocoa
1 cup Florida Crystals Sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
*handful of chocolate chips for topping after buttercream frosting
*reserved graham crackers for sprinkling over top of cupcakes
For white buttercream frosting:
4 tablespoons vegan butter
4 tablespoons vegan shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For chocolate ganache to drizzle over top of cupcakes:
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Use regular cupcake tins or extra large--you'll make fewer larger cupcakes. If using small cupcake tins--line with cupcake papers. If using large--spray with baking spray. First, mix together your graham cracker bottom filling. Crumble together enough graham crackers to make about a cup's worth of crumbs--if you want to add more--just add enough crumbs to take it to 1 1/2 cups. Melt the vegan butter, then add to crumbs and stir with a spoon. Then add the sugar and mix this in as well (I used my hands). Press about two tablespoons of graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of the larger cupcake tins (use about a tablespoon for smaller cupcakes). Next, prep your chocolate cupcake mix. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients--beginning with flour, ending with salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients--beginning with water, ending with almond extract. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry and stirring with a spoon, fold and mix together until the batter is fairly smooth--a few dry spots will be okay--you don't want to over mix--thus the spoon technique. Take a 1/3 measuring cup and fill your 'large' cupcake holders with batter--will fill ten--then add a little water to the empty cupcake holders before you bake them. Be careful when you remove them. When pans are cool enough to touch, carefully pour water in the unused cups out. Use a 1/4 measuring cup for smaller--either way, fill the cupcake holders to 1/2 full. Bake for about 20 minutes. (NOTE: don't open the oven to check on cupcakes during the early part of baking them or they will turn into inverted domes. I had a mini-dome on TOP of my cupcakes after they baked--which was fine with me--frosting can cover a wealth of errors when cupcake making.) Test for doneness after 20 minutes to see if a toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out clean or when pressed with your finger, the dough springs back. Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool completely. Next, prep your frosting. Add vegan butter and shortening and about 1 cup of powdered sugar to a large bowl and mix well, then add teaspoon of vanilla extract and rest of powdered sugar--beating until the frosting is nice and creamy, but getting stiff--add more sugar if needed to get to desired frosting consistency. Next, melt all ingredients for ganache in the microwave for about 30 seconds (depending upon your microwave). Mix well. I then piped my ganache over my cupcakes by placing it in a plastic baggie and clipping a corner off one end. Have your chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbles nearby for your assembly line method of topping the cupcakes. Once cupcakes have completely cooled, begin the process of final frosting, topping with chocolate chips (about 6-8 each cupcake), then drizzling with ganache, then finally, sprinkling crumbs. Enjoy!