April 9, 2011No Comments

Cupcakes

Two weeks I wrote about my culinary explorations of the s’more variety. With the semester coming to the final stretch, writing has been forced to take a back seat. Spring break ended with a great two-day skiing trip to Attitash and Wildcat, with beautiful spring skiing conditions. Fresh snow on the mountain both days, with temperatures in the thirties and low forties and sun lighting the slopes. While the skiing was incredible, I could not escape from the task that was waiting for me back home; the most difficult baking challenge I’ve ever taken on: the S’more Cupcake.A cupcake may seem like nothing for someone who has mastered S’more Chicken, but this recipe involved creating everything from scratch, including the frosting. This meant I would have to use a candy thermometer for the first time, and combat my arch nemesis, egg white peaks. The last time I attempted a recipe that involved beating egg whites to specific peakicity my meringues ended up as some sort of freak mushy meringue nightmare. While scarred, I knew that if I were to ever master the art of the novice baker, I had to conquer the egg whites once and for all.

Once my candy thermometer arrived from Amazon, I headed to the store to acquire the necessary ingredients. The S’more Cupcake consists of three main components: the graham cracker bottom, the cake portion, and the marshmallow frosting. The graham cracker crust and the cupcake batter both went down without a fight, proving no match for my rolling pin and electric mixer. With the cupcakes cooking in the over, it was time to tackle the frosting. Now I realize for those familiar with baking, a candy thermometer is nothing new, but to me, the idea of having to mix ingredients at certain temperatures is a bit intimidating. What doubled the intimidation level, however, was that I had to time my egg white beating with the decreasing temperature of the syrup so that they could be mixed together at the opportune moment.Syrup simmering on the stove, I began beating the egg whites, watching hopefully for the liquidy mess to turn into a beautiful mountain range of soft peaks. To my amazement the peaks began to form and the temperature of the syrup reached the correct temperature. I mixed them together and miraculously produced a delicious, marshmallowy frosting.

With the cupcakes cooled, I frosted each with a dollop of marshmallow frosting and then sprinkled some shaved chocolate on top for effect. I couldn’t wait for post-dinner dessert time to come around and gently unwrapped the reward of my toils in the kitchen. It was delicious. The warm chocolate blended perfectly with the graham cracker crust and the marshmallow frosting topped it off with a light sweetness. I wound up with lots of extra batter, frosting, and crust, and made a mini S’more cake, which lasted mere days in our house of six college students. This brief exploration into S’more desserts was delicious, fun, and horrible for my waistline, but definitely worth it!

March 22, 2011No Comments

I’ll Have S’more Please

Spring break has arrived, bringing with it some of that elusive free time that disappears during the semester.  While some unfortunate students are suffering through warm weather and endless parties in the warmer regions of the world, I’ve been lucky enough to head home to the beautiful weather of Massachusetts.  To take advantage of this opportunity, I decided to tackle some of the cooking projects that have caught my eye during the semester.

As many of my close friends know, a secret pipe dream of mine is to open a s’more focused restaurant in the vein of the specialty dessert restaurants, like froyo and cupcake shops, that have become popular in recent years.  My vision is to provide diners with gourmet s’more ingredients that they can then roast over their personal fireplaces.  Some diners may wish for the traditional restaurant motif where they are able to order from a menu and have the food brought to them, ready to be enjoyed.  This is understandable, but first, we need to come up with some s’more inspired recipe.

Despite my deep desire that the s’more become a universal dessert known throughout the world, many tell me that it is only known in the U.S. and Canada, and then particularly in the northern regions.  For the unfortunately uninitiated, a s’more is a medley of three fairly delicious ingredients: graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows.  When brought together and heated by fire, these ingredients combine to form the s’more, the world’s greatest dessert (followed at a distant second by the infamous whoopie pie).  If you’ve never had one, I am so sorry.  Make your way to your nearest grocer, procure the necessary ingredients, roast your marshmallow over open flame if possible (otherwise assemble and microwave for ~10 seconds), assemble, and rejoice at the discovery of heaven on earth.

Now back to the recipes.

My first experiment of the week was a delicious S’mores Cheesecake Bar from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, recommended to me by a close friend who shares my passion for s’mores.  The recipe was relatively simple, although a bit more complicated than the dessert from which it draws inspiration.  Unfortunately I had to double the recipe due to a double dose butter meltdown, and now have an enormous brownie pan of cheesecake goodness in my refrigerator.  Well, to be honest, there is about a 3/4 empty brownie tin in my fridge as I have become addicted to these things.  Seriously, they are incredible.  Tracey may have to be a future consultant for the restaurant.

So at this point two thoughts might be battling it out in your head: 1. What kind of restaurant doesn’t have a main course?  2.  Why is there a picture of chicken, asparagus, and sweet potatoes in a post about s’mores?  Then again, maybe not, but they do make a fantastic segue into the next evolution of the s’more.

Dear reader, it is time I introduced you to S’more chicken, the first main course meal to be inspired by s’mores.  When I proposed the idea to my friends a few months back, I was rewarded with scoffs and laughter, doubters who didn’t believe in the simple power of the s’more.  For weeks I endured their laughter and derision, formulating the recipe in my mind, but never had the time or ingredients to test my deliciously crazy meal.  Before I knew it, however, spring break had arrived.

I headed to the nearest Market Basket and acquired the necessary ingredients.  The meal is still a work in progress, but, without further ado, I give you: S’more chicken.

I headed to the nearest Market Basket and acquired the necessary ingredients.  The meal is still a work in progress, but, without further ado, I give you: S’more chicken.  Incredibly simple to make, the only ingredients needed are chicken, sweet potato, graham crackers, eggs, marshmallow, lime, flour and brown sugar.  I chose asparagus for my vegetable, which worked well, but am still experimenting for the perfect compliment.  Boil the sweet potatoes and mash them, adding milk or butter to taste.  Dip the chicken in flour, whipped eggs, and crushed graham with brown sugar crackers before placing it in a pan of heated oil to fry.  While the s’more inspiration for the  graham cracker encrusted chicken is clear, the other aspect of the dish that traces its roots to the classic s’more is the white marshmallow-lime reduction sauce seen on the sweet potatoes.  To make this, heat marshmallow cream in a sauce pan with some milk and heat on the stove to dissolve the marshmallow.  Add a squirt of lime juice to taste, adding flavor and censoring the sweetness of the sugary marshmallow.  For the asparagus, I placed it on a baking sheet with some olive oil, crushed pepper, salt, and brown sugar and baked it in the oven for a few minutes.  Together the meal was delicious, combining sweet and savory in an exquisite manner, but don’t take my word for it, try it out!

So after conquering the seemingly impossible task of creating a tasty s’more chicken meal, where will I go next?  After a brief skiing break, I hope to try my luck with another of Tracey’s recipes, a s’more cupcake, that will complement the dessert offerings.  Check back for updates on my semi-official s’more baking week,cyber and definitely leave comments with any recipe suggestions or ideas!