There are certain combinations in the food world that were made for each other–peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, tomato soup and grilled cheese–flavors that jump into one another’s arms and bring out the best in their other half, a relationship most of us could only work for. Sent down from the culinary heavens as an apology for the daily grind of taxes, traffic, and bad reality TV. Well.. I have another culinary couple to add to the list:
chocolate and toasted marshmallow.
I know, most of you have been eating smores since you were wee, and you love the way that marshmallows melt into creamy hot chocolate, but just these two together–graham cracker unnecessary–are the new Kate and William of the dessert repertoire.
A rich, slightly spiced chocolate cupcake with a moist crumb topped with a sticky marshmallow frosting is perfect, the fluffy white goo balancing out the heady chocolate. But when you break out the kitchen torch and brûlée the piped edges, the pairing is taken to another level. The crispy shell, perfectly browned to an elegant hue, the mere hint of a smokiness that lightens the marshmallow sweetness just enough – it’s a must.
Have you ever gone to make frosting and realized you’ve got, what, 14 pounds of granulated sugar on hand, but no powdered sugar? Or.. is that just me? Either way, this marshmallow frosting recipe makes use of a few eggs whites and some white sugar, ingredients you probably always have on hand. I love that I don’t have to coat the counter in a dusting of powdered sugar for this recipe, and there’s nothing more satisfying than beating simple eggs whites into a luxurious, airy cream with an almost otherworldly gloss.
I added a bit of cinnamon to my favorite chocolate cupcake batter to bring out the chocolatiness and a suggestion of a steaming cup of hot cocoa. I piped the quick and super easy marshmallow frosting with a star tip and then chilled them in the fridge to encourage the frosting to keep its shape beautifully.
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
- For cupcakes:
- 1 cup almond milk or milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For frosting:
- 4 large egg whites , at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- small pinch fine salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
Whisk together the almond milk or milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Regular milk will not curdle as clearly but it will still be fine! Then add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract to the vinegar mixture and beat until foamy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Meanwhile.. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
Place the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the clean bowl of a stand mixer and whisk by hand to combine. Nest the bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Heat the egg white mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch (about 120°F on an instant-read thermometer), about 6 minutes.
Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer to medium and whisk for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes more. Add the vanilla and whisk until just incorporated, about 1 minute.
Pipe onto the cupcakes using a medium star tip. Chill (optional) for at least 30 minutes to set the frosting a bit, then use a kitchen torch to lightly brûlée the edges.