I made these cupcakes for my beloved childhood friend, Jamie, last week. She turned the big 2-8 and I wanted to make her something special. S’mores are such a ubiquitous summer treat and they always bring back such happy memories. I often think back to those hot and balmy Ohio summer sleepovers spent with Jamie and our close group of girlfriends. The crickets chirping and fireflies lighting up the night sky. It sounds like a cheesy country song, but we had a lot of fun. We’d laugh into the early hours of the morning and talk about the boys we had crushes on and who was the hottest member of The Backstreet Boys (I was always fond of Kevin.) There also may or may not be “lost” footage of our homemade music videos somewhere in the stratosphere. This was the time period when I was under the delusion that I was a good dancer. My signature move was the shoulder shrug.
I remember wondering, back then, how life would be when we all “grew up.” Fast forward almost 2 decades and here we are. Some are married, some have children, and all seem to be doing very well in their respective careers. I still try to keep in touch with most of the group (social media can be productive), but I am closest with Jamie. She is such an exceptional person. I often marvel at her ability to make friends with anyone as well as her intellectual mind and hilarious wit. Whenever I have the pleasure of getting together with Jamie, I always leave feeling enriched and re-fueled. Some friendships withstand, and even strengthen, with the test of time. I am lucky to say that is the case for Jamie and me.
Celebrate this summer and make these portable campfire treats today!
Yield: 2 dozen standard cupcakes
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup sugar
- 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the Cupcakes:
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Marshmallow Frosting:
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Make the graham cracker crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in 2 standard cupcake pans. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until mixture is combined. Scoop a heaping tablespoon into each cupcake liner and gently press down to pack the crust. Bake for 5 minutes and allow to cool on cooling racks while you make the cupcake batter. Keep the oven on.
2. Make the cupcakes: In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, then add the eggs one at a time until well combined (scraping down the sides as necessary). Add in the vanilla and mix well.
In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, and coffee. Next, in a third bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt). With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Be careful not to over mix the batter- mix until just combined.
Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners that are filled with the graham cracker crust. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely.
3. Make the marshmallow frosting: Place the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl set over a pan of a few inches of simmering water. Warm the mixture, whisking constantly, until it reaches 160° F with a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and move the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin mixing at low speed and slowly move to medium-high speed until stiff and shiny peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until well-incorporated. Place the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a closed star tip and decorate as desired. Toast with a kitchen torch and top with chocolate, if desired.