S’mores Cupcakes (Nut-Free)
What comes to mind when you think of the quintessential summer dessert?
Before moving to the South, I would have said “S’mores!”
The very thought of a gooey, chocolate-y s’more conjures memories of summer campfires. I used to spend several weeks of every summer at a lakeside camp outside of Yosemite. During the day, we would waterski, windsurf, swim or take turns diving off the top of a pontoon boat, competing for the prettiest entry or the biggest splash. There were land activities, too, like a high ropes course, rock climbing and rappelling, archery or the (dreaded) arts and crafts. This camp birthed my love of the outdoors and my wanderlust for adventure.
When we got to a certain age, one week was spent backpacking in the wilderness. Even with minimal provisions, the views and the experiences were unparalleled. We slept under the stars, “bathed” in lakes and rivers and ate spaghetti and bean burritos at every meal. We hung our food in trees to deter bears, we washed our pots out with dirt and we hand-filtered our water. We watched the sun rise and set every day. To pass the time, we would take day-hikes to snowy vistas (in August!) or lounge around reading books and playing cards. Those were some of the most wonderful days of my life. They were unencumbered by work, obligations or responsibilities. We simply had the pleasure of appreciating nature.
In the evenings, we would build a campfire and we always made s’mores. Nothing could have tasted better than those s’mores. Even today, when I eat a s’more, I think of those trips.
In California, summer days – even the hot ones! – yielded cool(er) nights. Sitting by the fire to toast a marshmallow was part of the adventure (and totally necessary to perfectly melt the chocolate squares).
In North Carolina, the thought of looking at a fire from the air-conditioned indoors gives me heat stroke. It is NOT happening. Hot summer days in the South turn into hot summer nights with no reprieve.
But, since I was longing for the taste of the beloved s’more, I found a way to create them without the use of open flames. (You do need the oven, though. Sorry.)
This recipe will not disappoint, but here are a few things to note:
- I pulverize my graham crackers in the food processor. I like the crumbs to be really fine.
- To yield one cup of crushed graham crackers, I used one ream of the Nabisco crackers. That’s 9 full-size crackers.
- Use the “plain” honey graham crackers, not the cinnamon-sugar variety
- You can use a regular or dark chocolate cocoa powder. I like to use ¼ cup regular and 2 tablespoons dark chocolate.
- I use instant coffee in this recipe, but you can also use a brewed coffee – just make sure it’s strong and hot!
- Don’t judge me for the use of Marshmallow Fluff. This is not something I keep in my house regularly, but s’mores are a special occasion. Nanny, nanny, boo boo.
So, if you’re ever craving a s’more when a campfire is unavailable, here is your solution!