Thursday, October 4, 2012

S'mores at Home


It doesn't look like we will be going anywhere this week except to the repair shop-you remember, the issue with the holding tank ?  But I can bring the outdoor camping feeling to West Seattle by making S'mores.  More specifically  S'more Cupcakes.  We can sit out on the back deck in the evening and pretend we are sitting around the campfire.  And while we are eating these delicious cupcakes , we will also be daydreaming about and planning our trip to Alaska.


Alaska is at the top of our must see list with Ruby.  I have already ordered "Milepost",subscribed to Alaska Magazine and am busily Googling anything and everything I can find to plan the trip.  Any suggestions for must see or must do while we are there would be appreciated.  Since Jim is working until next Fall we won't be taking off for  Alaska until 2014, so we have plenty of time to plan . And by that time we will have Ruby equipped with solar panels so we can camp wild all over Alaska without worrying about electric hookup !


For those of you who know me this is probably going to sound crazy , but the activity at the top of my list is Halibut fishing !  Yes, I want to go out and reel in some fantastic halibut (my absolute favorite fish).  For you fishermen and women out there where in Alaska is the best Halibut fishing ?


We got a little taste of Alaska several years ago when we took a 160 mile raft trip down with Tatshenshini River with Canadian River Expeditions.  We rafted from the Klukshu River, a coastal range river at Dalton Post to the Yukon River and Dry Bay, Alaska along a 160 mile route with an elevation drop of approximately 1,800 ft. That was such an awesome trip-I will never forget it. If you have anything like that on your bucket list-I heartily recommend the guys at Canadian River Expeditions. You couldn't find a better company-don't take my word for it,see what National Geographic and others have to say .



You can take a look at more photos from this incredible river trip by going to the end of this blog and checking out the video .


I found these delicious little babies over at Pastry Affair, a fabulous blog that you should take the time to drool over ! Or check out her Facebook page here.



"Please, Sir, Can I Have S'more?" Cupcakes
Yields 12-14 cupcakes
Graham Cracker Cupcakes 
Adapted from Vanilla Garlic by Pastry Affair
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Make absolutely sure your ingredients are room temperature. No shortcuts or you'll end up with a dense cupcake. (Next time I make these I'm going to add some mini chocolate chips to the cupcake batter-these just needed a little more chocolate).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until it is fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat together the butter and sugar until it is very light and fluffy, about 7-8 minutes. Yes, you read that right.
Add the egg yolks to the butter mixture one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between additions. Rinse off the electric mixer beaters. In a small bowl, beat together the egg whites until they are voluminous and foamy.
In a food processor, pulverize the graham crackers until they are very small crumbs. Alternatively, you could double bag the graham crackers and beat them with a hammer until they become microscopic.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sifting is important to get rid of the larger graham cracker crumbs and to add air to the cupcakes. You will want as much air as you can get.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix with a spatula. Add 1/2 cup of the milk. Mix. Add another 1/3 of the flour. Then the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour. Add the foaming egg whites and fold the mixture until just combined.
Scoop the batter into cupcake wrappers 3/4 of the way full . (I filled my cupcake wrappers 3/4 full and they overflowed like lava !  Next time I will fill them just slightly over 1/2 full).Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cupcake tops bounce back when pressed (mine took 20 minutes). Cool completely on a cooling rack.

Marshmallow Filling Recipe:
The Pastry Affair recipe called for vegetable shortening, which I'm not a big fan of so I adapted mine to use butter. I know it's silly for goodness sakes I'm using marshmallow fluff and I'm worried about vegetable shortening !  LOL
12 Tbsp butter – softened but still cool
1 1/4 c. confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
7 oz jar marshmallow fluff
Mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt. Beat in fluff until incorporated. (Refrigerate if you aren't filling the cupcakes immediately after making it).
Chocolate Glaze
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
In a saucepan, melt together the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup over medium heat and stir until completely combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool in room temperature for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Marshmallow Meringue
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
In a double boiler  whisk together the egg whites and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites are warm to the touch, about 3-4 minutes.
Remove from the heat, transfer to a medium mixing bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form shiny, stiff peaks, about 5-8 minutes. Use immediately.
To Assemble
Take a graham cracker cupcake and, using a sharp knife, cut out a cavity in the center of the cupcake. I run the knife in a circular motion, while always pointing the knife towards the center of the cupcake. The cavity should be coned shaped. Using a pastry bag, fill the cupcake with the marshmallow filling until the marshmallow just reaches the top. Cut off the interior of the cupcake you've removed, and place back on the top, pressing down so it becomes flush with the cupcake.( I didn't cover up my marshmallow filling, I filled it all with the way to the top and spread a thin layer over the top of the cupcake).
Next, using a knife or offset spatula, spread a thick layer of chocolate glaze on top of the cupcake, covering up the seam and extending the chocolate to the edge of the cupcake. Make sure your chocolate is not runny! Let set for a few minutes.
Use a pastry bag to pipe the meringue on top of the cupcake. You can pipe it as high as you'd like (but keep in mind how wide your mouth is). Use your kitchen torch to toast the meringue topping.  If you don't have a torch, turn the oven on broil, and place the cupcakes on a cookie sheet in the top shelf of the oven. It will only take a minute or two to get a nice toasty marshmallow look, so watch them closely. Even if you do burn them a little, it will just taste like you set your campfire marshmallow aflame. Remove from the oven. (While the chocolate is still melted, you can sprinkle on any leftover graham cracker crumbs to give it an extra special look.)


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