Ah, s’mores. There is just something so pleasing about biting into a multi-layered, multi-textured treat that warms up your tummy and your heart! I think it’s the nostalgia. Even if you didn’t camp a lot–and I didn’t–something about these treats just makes you feel like a child again. It’s also just nice in winter when things feel frigid and cold–even in Texas. So, when I was thinking about what other things to make for my Small Gifts, Big Treats week, I really wanted to something with s’mores flavors. So, after thinking about many options, I opted for S’mores Cupcakes. So, let’s get to it!
I know what you’re thinking. Alyssa, you promised us easy and quick treats to make as gifts. Whyyyy would you make cupcakes?! Ok, so maybe you weren’t thinking that. But I definitely was when I made these bad boys. Yes, this is not going to be a quick and easy baking process. Nothing with these many components ever is. But I think ultimately what it was is that I really wanted these delicious flavors–graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. Cupcakes are an easy way to incorporate all these things individually and together. They’re also really easy to package as a gift! And what’s the point of these week’s recipes if you can’t give them as a gift?
Anyways, this classic treat has three very important components–all of which must be fully represented. Like I said earlier in this post: you’ve got graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. The thing I hate most about s’more iterations is when the proportions are off. If one part is more centralized but others are smaller, or just the opposite. You should definitely shoot for an even spread. Each bite should have a little bit of each component, but not too much of one. So now let’s talk these cupcakes–
Here comes the hypocrisy! I will admit that if there’s one component in this cupcake that is a little more lacking than the others, it’s the graham crackers. But they are there! The hard thing with cupcakes it that proportions are constrained to the size of the tin that you’re using. You gotta fit a lot of stuff in that tiny cupcake liner! So, I decided the easiest way to utilize the graham crackers was as a crust. I used my citrus cheesecake’s crust as the inspiration here. Just mix some melted butter, crushed up graham crackers, and salt in a small bowl with a fork. Pour them into the bottom of the cake liners.
When I do this with my cheesecake, I usually use my fingers to press it into the pan–to ensure they form a crust. But with cupcakes it’s a little trickier. I keep my salt in a tiny mason jar container. This is what I used to press the crust into the bottom of each tin. I pressed the roughly-same-diameter mason jar onto the graham crackers until they were flat. Then I baked these for 5 minutes just to help them solidify and stay together. Remember, they will keep baking with the chocolate filling, so you don’t need to bake it for long.
Just above the graham cracker layer is the chocolate layer! It seems obvious–to me at least–that the cupcake part of the cupcake is chocolate. But then again, I love all things chocolate. Anyways, this cake is based on a classic red velvet recipe I love to make–with a few changes. First, there’s obviously no red in this, ha. No really, the biggest change is that the cake has a touch of Nutella in it. Because the only thing better than chocolate is chocolate and hazelnut.
Anyways, you make it like any regular cupcake. Put all your dry ingredients in one bowl. That would be your flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Then in your mixer–or mixing bowl if you’re basic, like me–add the sugar and oil. Slowly add your eggs in. At this point your cupcake should be creamy and smooth. Now add vanilla and Nutella for that extra sweetness. Then add your flour mixture. Alternate between it and the buttermilk to ensure you get the right texture. You’re going for a thick, creamy texture–a cake batter. With cupcakes I always think, err on the side of moist; you want more wet than dry. Fill up the cupcake tins on top of the graham crackers and bake halfway before adding…
…THE MARSHMALLOWS. Let’s top off these s’mores cupcakes with a little mallow. Now, I’ll be honest. I wanted to try and make marshmallow frosting from scratch. But I just got damn lazy. Here’s the thing: these cupcakes are supposed to be easy. These gifts are supposed to be super simple to throw together. So, I just went for classic s’mores flavor. And what gets more classic in a s’more than melted marshmallow. And that’s what I did. Once the cupcakes are halfway baked, top them with the jumbo mallow and keep baking until it’s fully melted/toasted.
WARNING: These things get messy. That seems stupid to say now–duh. Of course it’s going to get messy. After all, that’s one of the best parts of s’mores. They’re messy. But really, you have to be strategic about how you melt these marshmallows. I added three per cake to one layer and when they melted they spread out and flattened. So when I opened my oven I had a tray of marshmallow with no cupcakes in sight! I took a knife and moved them around until each cupcake had a little mallow. It actually worked out well; it ended up looking like frosting. Sometimes mistakes are meant to be, ya know?
This one is a little trickier than just a box of cookies or a tin of truffles. Right now, the cupcakes are sitting in a glass pyrex with a lid on top. Because the marshmallow “frosting” isn’t too high, I was able to close the lid. This helps with preserving the cupcake’s cake-like texture, and keeps it away from our overly curious cats. But if I were to give this as a gift, I’d probably have to buy a special box just for cupcakes.
They sell a bunch of choices on Amazon or Michael’s for cupcakes. Plastic is the most classic way to go. But they also have cute boxes with an insert for separation on the inside, and a cute holiday design on the outside. Bonus: they aren’t horribly expensive. However you decide to wrap this gift, make sure you don’t crush the cupcake! Also, the marshmallow will stick to many things. So, some separation is recommended.
The trick to this dish is in the layering. You want even layers. Just enough of each component that you get a little bit of everything. To my surprise, it’s not as sweet as I thought it would be! Actually, because the cake is a rich dark chocolate, and the crust is salty, the only real sweetness comes from the marshmallow topping. And when it’s toasted, it is more smoky than sweet. No matter what you do with this treat—give it as a gift, bring it to a holiday party, or chow down in the comfort of your home—it’ll leave you wanting s’more. Ha, I had to!
- 1 cup graham crackers crushed
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp Nutella
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 bag jumbo marshmallows (just about)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in an un-greased muffin tin. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder using a whisk. Set aside.
In a small bowl, add the melted butter, crushed graham crackers, and salt. Use a fork and mix together well. Cover the bottom of each cupcake liner completely with the graham cracker mix. Leave room for the cake filling. Bake for 5 min, and set aside to cool.
In a stand mixer, add the oil and sugar. Cream together until fully combined. One by one, add the eggs. Mix well each time before adding another. Add the Nutella and vanilla extract. And mix again to incorporate.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixer and incorporate fully. Add 1/2 the buttermilk and mix again. Continue alternating until all of the flour is incorporated.
Spoon the cake mixture into the cupcake pan, on top of the graham crackers. Fill about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven--they will not yet be cooked through. Top each cupcake with 2-3 jumbo marshmallows. Return to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes--or until the marshmallows are melted and slightly toasty.
Let it cool for 3-5 minutes in the cupcake pan. Condense the melted marshmallow to individual cupcakes if necessary. Remove each cupcake to a cooling rack and let it cool completely. Serve as a gift!