Homemade Puffy Cloud S’mores

Cloud S'mores via Sweetapolita

S’mores are a dessert phenomenon, really. S’mores are the beloved treat made from graham crackers, marshmallow and melted chocolate, typically put together and enjoyed fireside. It’s definitely a delightful idea. They say that the first recorded version of the recipe can be found in a 1927 Girl Scout publication, which would make a lot of sense. If you put enough girls around a fire, someone is going to come up with a way to make dessert happen, one way or another.

The thing is I’ve never been a S’mores girl (until now), and yet I didn’t know why. It seemed like everything was there on paper: my like for graham crackers, check; my love for chocolate, check; my obsession with toasted marshmallows, double check. But put it all together, and it just never excited me (however, I’ve also never understood the whole Brad Pitt thing, so it’s possible I come from the far away land of backwards). Come to think of it, I’m nearing my 100th blog post and 38th birthday and I’m pretty sure that I have just written “s’mores” for the first time in my existence. Make that the second time. And for the record, this cake or these cupcakes aren’t “s’mores cake” or “s’mores cupcakes” since there’s no graham representation. Okay, I finally got that off my chest.

Cloud S'mores via Sweetapolita

So then why am I sharing Homemade Puffy Cloud S’mores with you? Because I realized what’d been missing all of this time was the homemade factor. It changes everything in the mysterious my-not-loving-s’mores case. See, what happened was that I received my much-awaited copy of my good friend Shauna Sever’s new book, Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes a few weeks ago, and even though I knew it would be fabulous, I didn’t expect to be so very inspired to make homemade marshmallows.

I literally couldn’t wait to make them, so I started with a batch of the Classic Vanilla (seemed like a great place to start). I was a little unsure what to expect, but I discovered that it was simple, fun and downright rewarding to successfully make a batch of homemade puffy, gooey, vanilla marshmallows. Then I spotted her recipe for Homemade Graham Crackers in the book, and I knew they were going to be yummy. So there it was: I was about to be s’mored. Or s’more someone else. Or worse. Little did I know that I was going to add a new sweet addiction to my collection, or that I was going to create crazed little cakelet girls who would literally follow me around with “Shauna’s book” begging me to make more “clouds.”

Cloud S'mores via Sweetapolita

Yep, clouds. Why not, right? I just knew that cloud-shaped anything would likely taste a smidge better than square, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. I didn’t have a cloud cutter on hand, but when this girl wants cloud s’mores, she gets cloud S’mores. I took the largest of the a set of this popular daisy-style cutters (Wilton Set of 3 Flower Cut Outs) that I knew I’d likely never use, and MacGyver’d it to make a cloud cutter by squishing it ever so slightly (I’ve also had my eye on this gorgeous Cloud Cookie Cutter). I used it for the graham clouds (above) and, of course, the marshmallow clouds.

I should tell you that even if you get a chance to only make one of these two components (homemade graham crackers or the homemade marshmallows), you can’t lose. The graham cracker were, thanks to Shauna’s fabulous recipe and easy-to-follow directions, simple to do and so tasty. Much like the marshmallows, I had never thought to make my own graham crackers before, and I am excited to add these to my cookie repertoire. They’re buttery, rich and kind of cute really.

Cloud S'mores via Sweetapolita

Simply put, the marshmallows are heaven. I’ve already made 3 batches of vanilla bean, and I’m not only ready to try all of her unique variations, but I’m inspired to start experimenting. I think what surprised me the most about making homemade marshmallows is that the active time is minimal (it was 20-30 minutes), the process is straight-forward, and they are so easy to work with once they’re set. I literally just pulled the entire square slab from the pan in one piece, placed it on a cutting board and cut my clouds with ease. For some reason, I envisioned a sticky mess of sorts. I made these with pure vanilla extract and the addition of a vanilla bean–I am a huge vanilla bean lover, and I knew it would heighten the vanilla flavour and would be a lovely visual (who doesn’t love those glorious vanilla bean flecks?).

Cloud S'mores via Sweetapolita

I decided to coat the entire cookies in milk or dark chocolate (I was inspired by these adorable bits of awesomeness) and then sandwich them together, in typical s’more fashion. My cakelets went crazy for these, and so did I. The homemade quality to it all really converted me, and I’ll never look back. Ever.

Cloud S'mores via Sweetapolita

Because these keep well for several days, they make super gifts. I built each one in a mini loaf liner and then boxed some up for a friend, and she loved it. Or, of course you can always just keep’em around in case of emergencies.

Cloud S'mores via Sweetapolita

On repeat: “Mum, can I have more clouds?” I may have created little cloud s’more monsters, but they sure had fun while it lasted.

Cloud S'mores via Sweetapolita

Who doesn’t love dessert clouds?

cover photo (and all book photography) by Leigh Beisch

So here’s where the magic begins! How beyond adorable is the Marshmallow Madness! book cover? And the name? The colours? I love it all. Packed with approachable-yet-unique recipes and techniques (think Key Lime Pie Marshmallows, Sea Salt Caramel Swirl Marshmallows, Homemade Marshmallow Creme and so much more) and more visual yumminess than I ever imagined, this book is a new favourite around our house. I took away more than just the ability to make these recipes, but I acquired a versatile new skill. Love that.

I think what makes this book extra special is Shauna’s warmth, humour and innate ability to put people at ease (aside from her incredible talent). You simply want to be around her. I first “met” Shauna when she left a blog comment on one of my posts not long after I first started this blog at the end of 2010, and even after that first comment I knew she was going to be a friend. And she is. You can learn more about her over on her website and blog. And what’s more? She has a new book, Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques, available for pre-order now and released November 6th, 2012. Congratulations, Shauna! xo

So, using 2 of the sweet and simple recipes found her book, here are the recipes and details on making these Homemade Puffy Cloud S’mores. I realize this looks like so much info and so much work, but it’s really not. I promise.

Homemade Puffy Cloud S’mores

Yield: 15 Smores plus additional 18 graham crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 batch Classic Vanilla Marshmallows (below)
  • 1 batch Homemade Graham Crackers (below)
  • 8 oz best-quality chocolate (extra dark, dark or milk)

Instructions

  1. Follow the instructions for the Classic Vanilla Marshmallows.
  2. Follow the instructions for the Homemade Graham Crackers.
  3. Coat the Graham Crackers in Chocolate:
  4. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper or silicone mats. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in microwave, or in a heatproof bowl over a small pot of barely simmering water.
  5. Dip cookies into chocolate using two forks (or if you have a chocolate-dipping fork), covering entire cookie, letting the excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Place on Silpat or wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Place filled sheet in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set.
  6. Assembly of the Homemade Puffy Cloud S'mores:
  7. Place one chocolate-covered graham cloud (be sure the chocolate is set) smooth side down into a baking liner (I used White Petite Loaf Baking Cups) or plate (you can even use cupcake liners, but depending on your cloud cutter, they may be too small). I popped mine in the freezer for a few moments before assembling them, to firm up the chocolate.
  8. Place cloud cut marshmallow (one side should be sticky) on top. Place second chocolate-covered graham cloud on top, smooth side up. If you need the top of the "sandwich" to stick to the marshmallow, you can try adding a dab of melted chocolate and letting set.

Notes

I used both Callebaut Dark Chocolate Callets (dark) as well as Callebaut Milk Callets (milk) and dipped half of my graham cracker batch in dark and the other half in milk chocolate .

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Classic Vanilla Marshmallows

Yield: About 2 dozen 1 1/2"-inch mallows

shared with permission, as written in the book Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes by Shauna Sever

Ingredients

    For the Marshmallow:
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Classic Coating, plus more for dusting
  • For the Classic Coating:
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch or potato starch

Instructions

    For the Marshmallow:
  1. Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour into the mixer bowl. Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.
  4. When the syrup reaches 240°F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla; finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Pour it into the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners. Sift coating evenly and generously over top. Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.
  5. Use knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into whatever size pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works great for squares). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting off the excess.
  6. Super vanilla-ize these mallows by adding a scraped vanilla bean or dab of pure vanilla bean paste along with the vanilla extract.
  7. For the Classic Coating:
  8. Sift the ingredients together in a large bowl or combine them in a food processor. I tend to make several cups' worth at a time and store it in an airtight container; it keeps forever.

Notes

For the my cloud s'mores I did the vanilla bean version of these, so in addition to the pure vanilla extract I added one scraped vanilla bean. It makes the vanilla flavour even more heavenly, and those beloved little black vanilla flecks are gorgeous in these puffy, pure white cloud marshmallows.

I used Knox brand gelatin.

I used a 9" square pan, rather than 8" so they would slightly shorter for the cloud s'mores. This yields about 15 2" x 3" clouds.

The first batch I made took about 30 minutes active time, but after I got the hang of it, the following batches took about 20 minutes.

For sandwiching the mallows in the s'mores, I only coated the top of the mallow batch while it sets, but didn't coat the underside, so that they would stick to the cookies.

I let the pan of marshmallows set overnight, for about 9 hours, and then removed it in one big slab from the pan, onto a cutting board, then cut into clouds (you could do any shape you like) using a cookie cutter.

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Homemade Graham Crackers

shared with permission, as written in the book Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes by Shauna Sever

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup stone-ground whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, blend together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add the butter pieces and the honey and blend until the mixtures comes together. Scrape out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat it into a rectangular shape; wrap well. Refrigerate until firm, but still pliable, about 1 hour.
  2. Position an oven rack in the center position and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out thinly, about 1/8 inch thick (you can gather the dough scraps and reroll as necessary).
  3. Cut out crackers with a 2- to 3-inch cookie cutter (or cut into squares with a pizza cutter) and place pieces on the prepared baking sheets, a dozen per sheet. Prick each one several times with a fork and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if desired. Chill the pieces on the sheets for at least 15 minutes before baking. bake for 14 to 16 minutes until golden. Let set for 1 minute before transferring the crackers to a rack to cool completely.

Notes

I used standard whole-wheat flour (because it's what I had on hand) and it worked fine, but you can find the stone ground variety here: Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour. I'll try it this way next time.

I rolled the dough, as I do most rolled cookie dough, between two sheets of parchment paper on top of a slip-free mat (I use my Fondant Work Mat for everything).

I chilled the rolled dough for 15 minutes in the freezer before cutting with the cloud cookie cutter, then put the baking trays back in the freezer for another 15 or so before baking.

I didn't sprinkle with turbinado sugar (since I was covering them with chocolate).

This batch yields about 4 dozen 2"x 3" graham clouds.

These are so tasty, even on their own! They make a great snack for kids, and they keep well in a sealed plastic bag at room temperature.

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Sweetapolita’s Notes (a few more):
  • For my clouds, I simply bent these cutters so they were cloud-like, but you can also buy a Cloud Cookie Cutter.
  • These are incredible on their own, so if you opt for making just the marshmallows, once you’ve cut them you can keep in single layers in an airtight container (with one corner cracked ) somewhere cool and dry (not the refrigerator).
  • You can watch Shauna make these marshmallows here.
  • I used both Callebaut Dark Chocolate Callets (dark) as well as Callebaut Milk Callets (milk) and dipped half of my graham cracker batch in dark and the other half in milk chocolate .
  • Timing of the Homemade Puffy Cloud S’mores Prep: I made the marshmallow batch first (and set the pan aside overnight). I made the graham clouds that same day and sealed them in an airtight bag overnight. The next morning I dipped them graham clouds in chocolate and let them set. Later that morning I cut the marshmallow clouds and assembled the s’mores.
  • The cloud cutter I used is about 3″ by 2″.
  • These finished s’mores are best stored in an airtight container at room temperature, and will last for several days.
  • Milk chocolate is a lot softer to work with than dark, so when assembling the s’mores you’ll likely need to put the tray in the freezer for a few moments when needed.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting

Cupcakes galore! I think it’s safe to say that this layer-cake bakin’ girl has never before made so many cupcakes or used so many sprinkles in such a short span of time. Actually, maybe it’s not so much that I haven’t made so many in such a short time, but that I’ve never blogged about so many. The thing is that so often when I bake, I then eat, share, deliver…all with no time left to photograph or write about the recipes. This was going to be one of those times, but then after sharing a few Instagram shots of the cupcakes and receiving a flurry of requests to share what these cupcakes were all about, I thought I’d switch things up and do an all-iPhone shot post and go ahead and share!

So, a close friend of mine, Janin, was celebrating her birthday this past weekend, and we had a super-fun girls’ night on Friday night at her house (Birthday Cake Shooters, anyone?). Since she’s a relatively new friend (I just discovered how incredible it is finding such true friends at this stage in life.), I hadn’t yet met several of her hometown friends who were coming in to celebrate, so when trying to decide what birthday treats to make for the occasion, I figured if there’s anything that speaks to a gaggle of girls, it’s chocolate and sprinkles–lots of chocolate and sprinkles. You know, one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, is that sometimes keeping things classic and decadent can be as much of a crowd-pleaser as super-fancy, fondant-covered treats. You probably know by now that I am passionate about those as well, but I just feel that it totally depends on the situation. I used to feel that I had to go crazy decorating for days in order for birthday desserts to have wow-factor, but I’ve since discovered that’s not true.

So I made two types of cupcakes, the first was Janin’s all-time favourite, banana cake with chocolate frosting (I ended up making that frosting a la Nutella), and the second was classic dark chocolate cupcakes with the same chocolate frosting, sans Nutella (an amazing option for the non-Nutella fan). When one of the girls took a bite and said, “Whoa, the frosting is like a chocolate cloud!” I knew I had to put that down on paper. Chocolate clouds? What my dreams are made of. The truth is, it really does have a billowy cloud-like texture, and as a girl very concerned about texture, particularly frosting texture (not to mention enticing baked good names), “chocolate cloud” spoke to my very core. Add the rich, satiny awesomeness that is Nutella to the mix, and I’m blogging an otherwise unblogged delight.

The cupcakes themselves are a classic, one-bowl dark chocolate cupcake recipe that never disappoints. It’s only slightly different than this recipe, but I love it (love them both–I just have a thing for experimenting). The frosting is a modified version of this previous frosting I posted, but the Nutella gives it this incredible taste and adds to the already creamy texture. Even if you don’t like Nutella, you can simply omit it for a classic chocolate cloud frosting.

Such a classic birthday treat! Did I mention how well they pair with Chocolate Whipped Cake Martinis & Chocolate Banana Cake Martinis?

Oh yes, they do. Just sayin’.

Here’s the recipe:

*Product notes: The Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark (my favourite) cocoa powder is what makes this chocolate cupcake recipe so incredible.

Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting

Yield: 12 standard cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Nutella Cloud Frosting:
  • 1 cup (227 g)(2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) icing sugar (confectioners’), sifted
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (125 g) premium bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup (100 g) Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer), Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.
  6. For the Nutella Cloud Frosting:
  7. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed (I use #2 on my KitchenAid mixer) for about 1 minute.
  8. Add vanilla, and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my KitchenAid mixer) until smooth, about 2 minutes).
  9. Add the Nutella, milk and pinch of salt, and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Cupcakes:

  • For evenly-sized cupcakes, I always use a 50mm cookie scoop (it’s a bit trickier with this runnier batter, but it’s worth it).
  • You can substitute the Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder, but be sure to use a quality cocoa powder (Dutch-processed).
  • To see the baking ingredients, equipment and tools that I used for this recipe, check out my shop.
  • Even if you dislike coffee with a passion, please trust me–it simply enhances the rich chocolate flavour!
  • For tips for baking better cakes, check out this previous post.
  • This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
  • Unlike vanilla cupcakes, these stay incredibly moist for several days, so I often bake them a day before I need them (unfrosted) and frost on the day I am serving them, but you can also frost them and keep them in an airtight container for up to 3 days, for convenience (if they last that long!).

Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Nutella Cloud Frosting:

  • For the purest at heart, you can make your own Nutella by following Stella’s Homemade Nutella recipe.
  • You can omit the Nutella and you have an incredible “classic chocolate cloud frosting.”
  • It’s ideal to make this frosting right before you need it, because you’ll find it’s an ideal consistency for piping and decorating, but once it’s on the cake or cupcakes, it stays perfectly smooth and fluffy for up to 3 days.
  • You can add small increments of more milk, if too thick, and blend until smooth.
  • If you find the frosting starts to get air bubbles while sitting (during the decorating process), use a rubber spatula to knock the air out of it, by stirring it with a back and forth paddling motion.
  • To frost the cupcakes in the photo, I inserted a large, plain round icing tip into an 18″ pastry bag and filled it with the frosting. I piped a large swirl starting from the outside of the cupcake, and, moving in a slow circular motion, worked my way to the center, and gently pulling the bag up and away from the cupcake. Then, using the underside of a small spoon (I used a baby spoon), I put slight pressure on the very top of the swirl and pull the spoon up and away. This creates a well for the sprinkles and gives the cupcake a classic but not-so-perfect look. Top with confetti quins or sprinkles for a fun birthday finish!

Good luck & enjoy!


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