Happy birthday, Dustin! Today Dustin has entered his mid-twenties (or at least that's what he informed me when I turned 22). Welcome to the club.
I have always been a little of jealous of Dustin. At a very young age he found his life’s passion, computer programming. Even though it just started out that way, programming has become more than just a hobby to him, guiding his career path, something that I’m struggling with right now. Who am I, and what do I want to do with my life? I always wished I’d be able to find that deep-rooted passion for something like that within me. Today, Dustin is 22 and seems to have it all figured out. For that, I am so proud of you, Dustin.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m a personality-less drone with no passions or hobbies– I have many. I love animals, especially dogs. I love sports and go crazy for my teams (better luck next year ‘Stros; go Texans– future 2011 AFC South Champions). I love to shop and get a thrill out finding a bargain. I have a slight obsession with a few too many television shows, and I love watching them marathon-style and reading TV blogs about them. But none of these hobbies really give that sense of self-fulfillment that Dustin has found in programming. There’s something about taking an active role in doing something, and that something causing great things for you that really makes certain hobbies unique.
A little over a year ago, I decided to try to develop my own hobbies, taking things I enjoyed and spending more time on them to see how they affected me. My first thought was to buy a cupcake book and develop my interest in baking. I always enjoyed baking with my grandpa as a young child and then with my grandma when I was a little older. It wasn’t something I did much, but I always enjoyed eating the finished products. So I bought a cupcake book, and have really enjoyed supporting my sweet tooth. The only problem with baking is that you can’t do it too much when you are only feeding two people. My baking enjoyment has led to a more general enjoyment of food, foodgawker, and even cooking. A couple of years ago, if you had asked me about cooking, I would have told you that cooking to me was microwaving something. Now Dustin and I cook together most nights of the week and have a blast doing it. Then we bought the DSLR camera, and we decide to chronicle our fun together through this little blog.
That being said, S’mores cupcakes are something I’ve wanted to make ever since I got my cupcake book. I think they are the perfect dessert to make for his birthday as I reflect on trying to figure out my passions. Even though I do not want to be a professional baker, baking has really helped me enjoy my days more (and I don’t think Dustin is complaining about all of the additional treats he’s gotten), and I think it has gotten me in the right mindset to finding my version of programming. I really enjoy experimenting in my own kitchen, but on a larger scale, I think it would turn into an overwhelming nightmare. Hats off to all professional chefs. The S’mores cupcakes, being one of the first recipes I wanted to try, have reminded me how I’ve gotten to this place.
When I envisioned these cupcakes I always thought I’d make a chocolate cupcake, cover it with marshmallow frosting and then crumble some graham cracker on top. Viola– S’mores flavored cupcake. But then when we got to Seattle, we ate at Trophy Cupcakes, who had their own version of the S’mores cupcakes with a graham cracker bottom. I used their idea from their shop's recipe to make my own S'mores cupcakes.
First you crumble graham cracker, place the crumbs in a lined cupcake tin with a little sugar and melted butter and then bake for approximately five minutes. After five minutes, you remove the tin from the oven and cover the graham cracker with cupcake batter then bake as usual upon which the graham cracker crust and the chocolate cupcake will be married in tasty bliss. I added a layer of chocolate chips between the batter and the crumbs to act as cupcake glue because I was worried the graham cracker wouldn't stick well enough.
Next comes the cupcake batter.
I decided to use the chocolate cupcake recipe from my book (located here online– I used the plain chocolate cupcake recipe) instead of the one in the Trophy recipe, since my book has served me so well (and I've been eyeing this recipe for so long, I wasn't about to make a drastic change). The yogurt in this recipe gives the batter a mousse like consistency and gives the baked cakes nice texture.
I could probably consume the entire batch of batter. Too bad it contains raw eggs. But that doesn't stop me from sneaking a little here and there. This recipe makes a ton of batter. I halved the original recipe and still had enough to make around two dozen cupcakes, and I only wanted to make a dozen. No need to tempt ourselves too much.
I made entirely too much of the graham cracker crumb mixture for the relatively few number of cupcakes I was making, so I added some of the extra crumbs to the batter for more crunch and graham cracker flavor.
Now for the frosting!
Later in the day, I made the book's marshmallow frosting. The book's version involved melting pre-made marshmallows. I'm sure making my own would be MUCH tastier, but I didn't have the time today. Maybe that's a project for future Erin. The marshmallow frosting from the book was already sticky and messy enough. I tried to pipe the icing to decorate them, but the frosting killed my heavy duty plastic bag, creating a huge mess on my stove. It took me forever to get the hardened marshmallow off. Then I just spread the frosting on the cupcakes because I was tired of messing with everything. Dustin says they still look ok, and I guess that is all that matters since it his special day.
Seeing as I don't own a kitchen torch (as recommended in the original recipe), these cupcakes didn't get toasted. I considered placing them in the broiler for a few minutes until the frosting was slightly browned, but I thought better of it in case I messed them up and didn't have anything to take to the party. I DID decide to garnish them with graham crackers for even more S'mores flavor– graham cracker on top and bottom of the chocolatey, marshmallowy gooeyness.
I took these cupcakes to our Halloween party even though it was a day early, so a greater number people could celebrate Dustin's birthday and enjoy the treats. Overall, I think everyone, especially Dustin, was really happy. So here's to many more happy birthdays!
And Happy Halloween! Dustin went to the party as Wild Thing from Major League, and I was Hermione, complete with a wand and everything— perfect for drinking Butterbeer, which we tried and sort of successfully made.