just in time for mardi gras–fat tuesday– something decadent enough to be celebrated! if you catch this early enough, you may have time to make them after work since they do not require any fancy ingredients (if you don’t have cream, there are work-arounds with other recipes). i knew i was going to make these today, but was tripped up a bit schedule-wise since my morning was eaten up by the delivery of a brand-spankin-new washer and dryer (i am legitimately more excited about this than the cupcakes), and the majority of the late morning/afternoon spent with a dead car (after a very turbulent tow truck ride, it is being repaired and i have a loaner car). once i got back, i swung by the grocery store for a bag of marshmallows…the first trip in i bought a bunch of other stuff and forgot the marshmallows; i thankfully realized this as soon as i exited the store rather than once i got home like i usually do.
in any case…time for another work team birthday! hurrah! since tim was at macworld last week and had off today, he will be celebrating his serial baker style birthday on tuesday. i considered making something apple related, since his job is to increase our apple business and he is a mac fanboy…and i of course considered a themed cake for one of the tv shows he enjoys, and a number of other things…but then i recalled a request he had a while ago– his aunt used to make amazing mississippi mud brownies, and as he described them to me his eyes lit up and i am not sure, but i may have seen the beginnings of drool.
i don’t know if i will be able to live up to his memory, but i sure hope so! rather than brownies, i decided to go with cupcakes… not only because people tend to equate cake/cupcake with birthdays, and i think piling all this sweetness on to a dense brownie might be overwhelming during the work day, but i think i may have overloaded everyone with brownies during the perfect brownie search. although i did not end up going with any of the recipes i found online, the reviews of the ones i did read mentioned that unless you only half-fill the cupcake liners, it is near impossible to keep the marshmallows and any toppings in place. this seemed like the perfect excuse for the fancy folded paper liners i had bought last year and planned to use for muffins with superduper streusel. don’t worry, i will still be using more of them on said muffins!
i went with a standard chocolate cupcake recipe that got good reviews on allrecipes, topping them with marshmallows with a few minutes left of baking. unfortunately, the cupcakes needed more than just a couple more minutes, as the tester did not come out clean until the marshmallows were melted. i considered throwing them in the broiler or torching them, but i figured i would just leave them alone at this point since they would be covered anyway. i will admit, i am a bit concerned about how the marshmallows will be tomorrow (too tough/chewy?), and i think if i make these again and they will not be served the same day i will use fluff instead.
when it came to the topping, i was stuck with a decision to make: buttercream with chocolate and caramel drizzled, chocolate buttercream with caramel drizzled, or caramel buttercream with chocolate drizzled. i went with what appeared to be the general consensus on the brownies: chocolate icing with caramel drizzled. i veered from tradition though with the omission of the pecans since the birthday boy doesn’t eat them.
i am not much of a caramel fan, but it is pretty neat to make it from scratch…watching the white sugar turn into an amber liquid feeds my inner science geek. i wasn’t sure how much to make so i halved the recipe and well, i now possess enough caramel to top the macchiatos of every starbucks customer for a day. no, seriously, i have a ton of this stuff! it says it is good for a few days so i have to figure out a use for it. if you happen to have a good suggestion other than ice cream or bananas, please let me know!
I am vegetarian and therefore don’t eat marshmallows (fluff doesn’t have gelatin, so that is another reason to make the substitution next time), so i can’t taste test these….but they look and smell good. i will try to follow up with some reviews so that you know what modifications might be suggested. (update: two big ol’ thumbs up on these! and the marshmallow didn’t get too hard. woohoo!)
Chocolate Cupcakes (from AllRecipes)-
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups mini marshmallows
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk; beat well. Fill the muffin cups 1/2-3/4 full.
- Bake for 15 minutes then top with marshmallows and return to oven for an additional 3 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Chocolate Buttercream (adapted from the basic buttercream from both Domino Sugar and Magnolia Bakery)-
3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
Combine all ingredients (start with 3 cups of the sugar) on medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add additional sugar until the proper consistency is achieved. If it is too stiff, add a small amount more milk.
Caramel Drizzle (from Yummy Cakes by Lynn, i halved the recipe for my use, but here is a full recipe- divide as you see fit, depending on your additional uses)-
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- Pinch of salt
Cook sugar in heavy bottomed high-sided pan on medium heat, until it begins to melt around the edges, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is melted and has turned golden amber about 3 minutes longer.
Carefully pour the cream down the side of the pan in a slow, steady stream, it will bubble and splatter. Stir constantly until completely smooth. Stir in salt; pour into heatproof bowl to cool completely before using.
It can be stored in airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week; bring to room temperature before using.
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