My dear friend, Chris, is often encouraging me to include more “me” in my food photos – a video of me, all smiles, whisking up a cake, photos of me removing freshly-baked cookies from my professional-grade Thermador in my immaculate kitchen, me proudly holding my latest tart creation in my vintage apron. If that’s what Chris imagines when he envisions me in the kitchen, who am I to correct him? The reality is decidedly less glamourous. On most days, you’ll find me barefoot, my unkempt hair pulled back in some odd top-knot, braless, sans makeup, and wearing last night’s pj’s. When I’m in bake mode, I’m all in, girly glamour be damned.
So, when the stars align and I manage to bake something divine AND get dolled up on the same day (in this case, Halloween), I feel I owe it to Chris to share a bit of both my worlds. Thank you, my friend, for always encouraging me.
Graham cracker crust and sinfully dark chocolate cake, topped with a pillowy swirl of toasted, sticky marshmallow meringue make for a decadent dessert – no campfire needed. This recipe makes a lot of frosting, so don’t skimp on your swirl.
- 2 cups Graham crackers crumbs
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup sugar
- pinch salt Cake
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee granules
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup canola oil
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 cups cold water Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and salt together until it resembles wet sand. Place a rounded tablespoon of crust mixture at the bottom on each liner and press firmly with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup. Bake for about 5 minutes until lightly golden.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, coffee granules and salt. Combine oil, vanilla extract and white vinegar. Add water to oil mixture. Slowly whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. The batter will be wet.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake 18- 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes and to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan filled with 1-2” of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the vanilla. Whisk on high speed for 5-6 minutes until stiff and glossy.
4. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Using a kitchen torch, toast meringue frosting.