Fauxstess Cupcakes

Sometimes you just need a break.  Right Izzy?  A break from life on the first floor to explore the carpeted realm of the stairs and beyond.  Until she peed in Luke’s office.  Twice.  In one night.  I think someone was upset that her mom forgot to give her fresh hay in a reasonable timeframe.  What a fresh bunny we have.

But I’m talking about a different kind of break.  Yes, August is peach month and I’m sure you’ve seen enough posts about what to do with your 80 pounds of peaches you just couldn’t resist getting at the farmer’s market.

Well, there won’t be any of that here today.  I need a break.  A break from peaches and stone fruit, a break from zucchini and squash, because honestly, I can only eat so much of it before I’m thankful their season is over.

So let’s make something unseasonal.  Or rather, something that’s always in season.  Chocolate’s popularity never waxes and wanes; its versatility manifested in its ability to lend its flavors to other dishes while still remaining distinct.

I thought about a chocolate peach dessert.  I thought about it long and hard, but in the end decided I just wanted chocolate.  And marshmallow fluff.  Because that never goes out of style either, right?

Fauxstess Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Makes 24-26 cupcakes

For the cake:
1¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp cake flour
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
6 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1 cup canola oil
1¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar, divided
6 Tbsp water

For the filling and frosting swirl:
2 cups marshmallow fluff
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
½ tsp cream or milk

For the chocolate glaze:
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, canola oil, 1½ cups of the sugar and the water.  Whisk to blend well.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy.  Continue beating, gradually adding in the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar, until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Add a quarter of the egg white mixture to the bowl with the batter to lighten.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until the batter is smooth and no streaks remain.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed, about 16-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the marshmallow fluff and butter in a large bowl and beat until smooth.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar and salt and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes more.  Transfer the majority of the filling mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip (about ½” wide), reserving ½ cup in the mixing bowl.  Blend in the cream to the reserved filling mixture to make it smooth for piping the swirl on top of the cupcake.  Transfer this to another pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (like the kind you’d use to write words with). Chill until ready to use.

Fill the cupcakes by inserting the pastry tip directly into the center of each cupcake and squeezing in a dollop of the marshmallow mixture.  If excess filling comes out of the top, just scrape it off with a knife so the top of the cupcake is essentially smooth.

Make the chocolate glaze by placing the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan or the microwave.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms.  Let cool briefly, about 5 minutes.  Take the cupcakes one at a time and invert them, dipping the top into the chocolate glaze.  Transfer them to a wire rack or baking sheet and let the glaze set.  (You can speed this process up by chilling in the refrigerator.)  Once the glaze is set, use the reserved portion of marshmallow frosting to pipe a uniform swirl across the top of each cupcake.  Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.


S’mores Cheesecake Bars

So a strange thing has started happening.  My former student’s prom pictures are popping up in my facebook news feed and…it makes me feel so old.  Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing.  It’s nice to be mature and independent, and I get to put on a big, poofy dress in a few months anyway, so I don’t really miss prom or high school life.

Going to Luke’s reunion was a reminder of our age as well.  I didn’t post yesterday because we decided to come home Saturday night instead of Sunday afternoon so Luke had a day to relax before work.  We didn’t get back until really late, and well, I was tired.

But the reunion was nice.  We had a good time, and reconnected, or in my case just connected, with some awesome people.  Luke even got told what a lucky man he is (to have me) by a former classmate 🙂  I knew I was armcandy!

Before my ego swells uncontrollably, let’s move on to the foods.  S’mores are a traditional summer snack, but with no campfire in sight (although I’m contemplating using that baking spices scented candle.) I’m finding other ways of working the summer staple into our dessert rotation.

Enter the s’mores cheesecake bar.  A crumbly graham cracker crust and toasted marshmallows sandwiching a creamy chocolately cheesecake layer.  Let’s call them fancy s’mores.  Let’s call them super amazing s’mores.  I just hope they can power me through my first GRE practice test.

S’more Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Sugar Plum

Makes one 8X8” pan

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 6-7 graham crackers)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 ounces semi sweet or dark chocolate, melted

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

melted chocolate for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until well combined.  Pat into the bottom of baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and set on wire rack to cool.

In another medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and marshmallow cream until fluffy – about 1 minute. Beat in cocoa powder, vanilla and eggs until combined.  Stir in melted chocolate until combined. Pour filling over crust, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set, and no longer wobbly. Remove from oven.

Preheat oven broiler. Evenly top cheesecake with mini marshmallows and broil for about 10-20 seconds until marshmallows start to brown. Cool on a wire rack and drizzle with additional melted chocolate, if desired. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until well chilled, about an hour or two, and enjoy.

Nutella Marshmallow Puffs

I probably jumped the gun in announcing the arrival of Izzy’s football apparel.  The minute I had the package in my hands, I was tearing it open and in her pen coaxing her over to inspect her new outfit.  She was surprisingly mellow and accommodating for an animal unaccustomed to regular clothing wear.

You’re probably wondering where all the pictures are.  Hey man, patience is a virtue.  While the shirt is amazingly adorable on her, I need to bust out my dusty sewing kit and do a few alterations.  Dog clothing is measure by length of back, and while Izzy and a Chihuahua might have the same size back…rabbit anatomy is a little different from a dog’s.

While dogs have more proportional front and hind legs to support their loping stride, rabbits don’t.  They hop, so they have little T-Rex like front legs compared to their massive kicking back legs.  We forgot about that.  Her tiny arms kinda got lost in the sleeves and ended up coming out all sorts of strange places, or getting stuck inside the shirt.  So I’m going to sew the sleeves up and make the shirt more or less sleeveless.  6th grade Home Ec don’t fail me now.

Moving on to the foods.  I bought a package of puff pastry on a whim one day, and had no idea what to do with it until I saw this recipe.  Apparently you can make it from scratch, but I am so not ready to handle that much butter at once.  Maybe some day.

Until then, I’ll keep buying it when I notice it’s on sale and wait for recipe inspiration like this.

Nutella Marshmallow Puffs

Adapted from Picky Palate

Makes 16 puffs

1 package puff pastry, 2 pastry sheets thawed

1 cup Nutella

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 egg white whisked with 1 tablespoon water

turbinado sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut each square of pastry into 4 equal size pieces, then halve each piece diagonally.  You should end up with 16 triangle shaped pieces.  Spread a couple tablespoons of Nutella spread onto the center of each pastry leaving 1/2 inch border around edges.  Top each with about 6 or 7 mini marshmallows and fold over to form a littler triangle.  Crimp edges firmly with the tines of a fork.  Brush with egg white wash then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 22-25 minutes or until pastry just turns golden.  Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Marshmallows

It finally snowed a little bit in Eastern Massachusetts.  And then, in the span of one day, it melted and it rained.  Oh, New England.

When I was younger, snow was always a happy event.  Snow meant school closures, romping with friends, sledding and hot chocolate.  Nowadays, snow elicits two reactions from me.  Scenario 1: It’s nighttime, and I’m all bundled up in my pjs.  “Oh look, snow!  It’s so pretty.”  And then I return to whatever I was doing.

Scenario 2: It’s the morning of a busy day, “Oh shiz, I have to drive in that mess?!  Crap.”  Where did the magic go?  Maybe one day if I have a yard and a working fireplace, the snow will become my friend once again.  I hope so; I really do love winter.

Who doesn’t love a cup of hot cocoa after playing in the snow, or as is the case now, shoveling out the car.  And what cup of cocoa is complete without a few choice marshmallows floating listlessly on top?  And what if you yourself made those fluffy little clouds with your own two hands (and some kitchen equipment)?

Homemade marshmallows have swept through the food blogging world, leaving a trail of very satisfied people in its wake.  I made this batch as Christmas presents for my family.  At first glace, they all thought it was fudge.  WRONG!

These marshmallows are the opposite of fudge.  They are light and airy, while still maintaining a super chocolaty flavor.  Amazing.  They’re a little less chewy than the store bought variety, and more like an ethereal little bite of heaven.  I’m really excited to make other kinds of marshmallows to adorn my cocoa cups.  Bring it on winter.

Dark Chocolate Marshmallows

Adapted from U Try.It

1/2 cup cocoa powder, divided
3/4 cup cold water, divided
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 (1/4-ounce) packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Line an 8 by 8-inch baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder on the bottom and the sides of the parchment paper, set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, add chopped chocolate, salt and instant coffee, heat on high until chocolate is melted.  Stop and stir at 30 seconds intervals.  When chocolate is melted, stir in 1/4 cup cocoa powder.  Set aside to let cool.

In a medium saucepan, add 1/3 cup of the water, the sugar and the corn syrup and heat over medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, do not stir the mixture and continue to cook the syrup until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Then heat the gelatin in a microwave for 25 to 30 seconds to liquefy it.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed with a hand mixer until firm.  As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat.

With the mixer on medium low speed, slowly add the syrup to the egg whites.  Pouring it between the spinning beater and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes.  When the ingredients are fully incorporated and slightly cooled, beat in the vanilla and chocolate mixture until well combined.

With a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread the mixture into the corners and smooth the surface.  Dust the top of the marshmallow with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder.
Leave it in a cool, dry place to set.  It takes about 2 to 3 hours.  Once the marshmallow is cooled and set, cut into small pieces with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife.


Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

This weekend is going to be a busy one.  Tomorrow especially.  It’s a day I’ve been anticipating and dreading.  Why?  Because I’m taking a first stab at shopping for my wedding dress.

One side got a little too toasty…

Wait a sec.  Dreading?  Oh yes, a part of me is definitely dreading it.  I was quite the tomboy growing up, and never found “girlie” things, such as clothes shopping very interesting.  It took me until my college years to embrace myself as a woman, but that doesn’t mean I suddenly love shopping.  And looking for a wedding dress has to be worst than normal clothes shopping.  A shirt or a pair of jeans I can throw on and take off in no time, but squeezing myself into tight, white dress, one after the other seems brutal.

I’m hoping there will be some fairytale moment where I put on the dress and know my search has ended.  Secretly, I’m hoping that’s the first dress I try on!  My mom and two best female friends will be joining me, so I’m sure they’ll keep my spirits up.

Something else that definitely gets my spirits up is good ice cream.  Yep, even in the winter.  And this ice cream is taaaa-sty.  It tastes exactly like a toasted marshmallow!  Luke thought it was a little too strong, but I eat ice cream in small installments, so it was perfect for me.  The recipe is a little complicated, but if you like the toasted marshmallows, it is definitely worth while.  You could even make an ice cream s’more with it!


Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

Adapted from Roasting Rambler

10 ounces marshmallows
2 cups skim milk (I think I used 2%)
1 cup heavy cream
5 egg yolks
scant 1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (split in half and scrapped)
1 tsp vanilla

Move one of the racks in your oven to the highest possible position and preheat the broiler at high for a few minutes. Meanwhile, line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicon mat and spread the marshmallows over the pan in a single layer. Place the pan directly under the broiler and watching closely, let them start to brown. Once they start to toast remove and place in the refrigerator to cool completely. Then flip each marshmallow over (do the best you can) and toast the other side. If the marshmallows start to expand too much make sure to remove them before they hit the heating element.

Transfer the toasted marshmallows to a blender. Put the milk and the vanilla bean and scrapings in a heavy bottomed pan and turn the heat to medium. Stir regularly and bring the milk up to a light simmer (it should be steaming, but not boiling much). While the milk warms up, put the egg yolks, sugar, and salt into a bowl and whisk together vigorously until the mixture is pale yellow.

Once the milk is hot, remove the vanilla bean and add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the egg yolk mixture and stir. Once the milk and eggs are well mixed, add a little more hot milk and mix again. You’re gently warming the eggs so that you don’t end up with creamy scrambled eggs. Then pour the yolk/milk mixture into the milk in the pan and start sitrring gently, but constantly. Allow the mixture to heat back up to steaming, but make sure that the mixture doesn’t boil. The mixture should thicken up to about the consistency of heavy cream. Take it off the heat and stir vigorously for about 3 minutes to cool slightly and then pour into the blender with the marshmallows.

Cover the blender and run it for about a minute to mix well and then allow the mixture to sit for a couple of minutes (this helps the remaining marshmallow chunks to start breaking down). Run the blender again for about a minute and then add the vanilla and the cold cream and run the blender for about 30 seconds more. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover, and place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Right before churning in your favorite ice cream maker, whisk the ice cream mixture to thoroughly blend everything together. Churn in your ice cream maker and then transfer to a tupperware and allow the ice cream to ripen (freezer harder) in the freezer for at least two hours.