Toasted Pumpkin S'mores Cupcakes
Pumpkin S’mores Cupcakes stuffed with gooey ganache and torched meringue topping. When summer is over and we’ve long said ‘Good-bye’ to bonfires and beach days, make these autumn-inspired, indoor pumpkin s’more cupcakes!
I am quick to fall in love with any dessert with sky-high, billowy meringue that’s been torched to perfection. And anything “s’mores” always steals the show. Easy crowd pleasers without trying very hard, if you will.
The problem is, these desserts don’t have to work very hard to get noticed. They aren’t beige, flat shortbread cookies that are secretly so sandy and buttery. They aren’t boring, brown flourless tortes or (dare I say) ugly rugelach that are both equally delicious without any extra bells or whistles. No, with their flashy, fiery finish, they are easily the first to disappear off any dessert table or bake sale.
So what’s the problem then? The problem is when these more decorative desserts, with their trendy flavor combinations, don’t deliver. They are so quick to steal hearts but have a hirer chance of tasting like disappointment.
Thankfully, these cupcakes are just as tasty as they are gorgeous -inside and out!
After picking up my packages and driving to the grocery store, I frantically flipped through Rebecca Firth’s new baby, The Cookie Book, in the Whole Foods parking lot while trying to decide what to bake first. I wanted to make sure I got the ingredients before heading home. I didn’t have time to read the whole book at the time, but of course it were the toasted tips of beautifully whipped meringue that caught my attention.
First of all, The Cookie Book is gorgeous! I have been a fan of Rebecca’s baked goods for some time now, and have been waiting for her book to come out. We commiserated together as we finalized recipes for respective cookbooks and virtually “cheers-ed” each other when we turned in our manuscripts.
Coming out right before the holidays, aka - Cookie Season, this book totally delivers on flavour, originality, and user-ability (is that a word??). I’ve had the book for only a couple weeks and have already baked multiple recipes from it. A cookbook that I actually use repeatedly? This doesn’t happen often, so when it does, you know the book is golden.
So how did I go from The Cookie Book to cupcakes, you might ask? Besides my awful urge to always mess around with perfectly good recipes, I don't really know…
Rebecca’s originally recipe was for Pumpkin Spice Bars with toasted meringue. Looking at the recipe, the ratios looked close to a cake recipe, so I tried baking them as cupcakes. And it totally worked!
The pumpkin puree keeps these cupcakes moist for days. I changed up the spice blend to better suit the chocolate ganache filling and added a touch more flour to make the bar cookies into cupcakes. Then I stuffed them with truffle-like ganache.
And that toasted meringue? Oh so good…. Meringue is absolutely magical. Made from just egg whites, sugar, and pure vanilla extract, these simple ingredients whip into billowy clouds. Good vanilla extract is hard to come by these days, but you definitely don’t want to hold back when it comes to the meringue. I used my favorite pure Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract from Nielsen-Massey for these cupcakes. You might not notice the vanilla as much in the baked cake, but with a frosting, like meringue, that relies on the vanilla for flavour, use the best you can get your hands on!
Toasted Pumpkin S’mores Cupcakes Recipe
makes 10 to 12 extra large cupcakes
adapted from The Cookie Book
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners (see NOTES) and set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the butter, pumpkin, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk in the milk, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
Sift the remaining dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture. Stir the batter until combined.
Spoon the batter into the lined cupcake pan, about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, rotate the cupcake pan(s), turn the oven down to 350F, and continue to bake for 12 to 18 more (about 22 to 28 minutes - depending on the size of the cupcakes). When done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes should come out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling or frosting.
5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
4 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it barely begins to simmer. When hot, remove the cream from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Add the butter and salt. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 to 60 seconds then gently stir until smooth.
Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature. Alternatively, chill the ganache in the refrigerator, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes (do not allow it to completely harden). It will thicken as it cools.
Vanilla Meringue Topping
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk (by hand) until combined. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to simmer. Place the mixer bowl on top to create a double-boiler (making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Stirring intermittently, cook the egg white mixture until it reaches 160F on a candy thermometer.
Once hot, carefully move the mixer bowl back to the stand. Fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg white mixture on high speed until room temperature and medium-stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the vanilla. Mix again on medium-high until incorporated.
Use (fairly) immediately
Using a paring knife or an apple core, cut out the centers of the cooled cupcakes. Place the cooled ganache into a piping bag or squirt bottle and fill the cored cupcakes.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium-large, round tip with the meringue. Swirl the meringue onto of the filled cupcakes. Gently toast the meringue with a culinary torch and serve.
I used extra-large cupcake liners set in a regular cupcake pan. If making standard-sized cupcakes, begin checking for doneness around 20 minutes.
Cupcakes are best eaten at room temperature the same day as they are prepared. The cupcakes and ganache will stay fresh for a few days. If making in advanced, save the meringue for just before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Thank you to Nielsen-Massey and Rebecca Firth for providing the products for this post! All words and opinions are my own.