Oleander [tea]

creations for the stomach, shelter, and soul

Most Recent Creations

S’mores Cupcakes

With sunny days and barbecues just around the corner, marshmallow and chocolate was on my mind.

Crunchy, buttery graham crust (which I admittedly ate by the spoonful right out of the bowl…) was layered underneath moist chocolate cake with pockets of melted chocolate.  And of course, crowning the top, the star of the show, marshmallow!  I got to use the torch, always a plus.  Fire throwing!
They were so cute!  Even Shelby, who forever despises chocolate, appreciated these.  The chocolate is rich, but not bitter-dark.  Sweetly reminiscent of the Hershey bars commonly used in s’mores, but better.
And the torch, oh my, that thing is a beast.  Six inches of blue flame, I felt like a super-hero, fire butterfly or something… yeah
It makes the decoration a snap, just pipe on the marshmallow, run the flame over it, and boom, you’re done.  Easy, but impressive to those who don’t know…
So, now you make them.  And send me pictures.  All that.
For the graham crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers
1/4 – 1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
So, this is a guessing game, you gotta taste it to make it how you like it.  Some don’t like super lots of butter, some do.  I do.  I used 1/2 cup.  You can use less, or even more!
Smash the grahams.  I do this in a big ziploc bag with a rolling pin.  Just put them in the bag, and roll over it until they are crushed.
Mix with sugar and pinch of salt, and stir in butter until it is how you like it.  I like mine to hold together when compressed.  But since it is going on the bottom of cake, it doesn’t really have to.
OK, so now you have the crust mixture, press it into the bottom of your cupcake liners.  I made minis, you can obviously do as you like.  Minis are cute though, and I found that the graham bottom keeps them super moist.  My crust was 1/4 inch thick about.
Set aside filled tins while you make cake batter.
For the batter:
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cream + enough hot water to make 1 cup
1 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Oven at 350 degrees. Two regular sized muffin tins, lined or greased and floured. 

Beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy (two minutes? three?). 

While it is beating – sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. 

Back to the mixer, add in the eggs one at a time, beating after each until it is well mixed. Beat in the vanilla extract until just incorporated. 

Mix in half the flour mixture on medium speed. Then mix in the hot water/cream. Then the remaining flour mixture. Let it sit until slightly cooled. 

Meanwhile pulse the chocolate chips until chopped. When the batter has cooled slightly, stir in the chocolate. 

Put batter in muffin tins on top of graham crust, about a 1/4 cup in each for regular size, a tablespoon or so for minis. You know, just 3/4 of the way full or so.

Bake until toothpick comes out clean, but a few crumbs are ok. ((if they look done but the tester comes out completely gooey, you might have stuck it through a melted chocolate morsel, so try again)) Mine took about 10 minutes(minis) but all ovens are slightly different.

For the marshmallow:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp water
pinch salt
1 egg white, room temperature
pinch cream of tartar
a bit of vanilla extract
Heat sugar, salt, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan until 240 degrees.
Meanwhile, beat egg white and cream of tartar in a mixer, beat until soft peaks.
Now, when your syrup in heated to 240, turn mixer to low and drizzle in a tiny bit of syrup.  When incorporated drizzle in the rest of the syrup in a slow stream.  Increase speed to medium or high, whip until marshmallow is stiff and shiny.  Add in vanilla and beat a little more.
Now once your cupcakes are done you must LET THEM COOL.  Otherwise the marshmallow you pipe on with melt and run and it will be a mess.
Once cooled, pipe on the marshmallow and quickly torch.
Yay!  Done!

Madeleines with Strawberry Sauce

Moist, sweet madeleines and fresh strawberries, served with a drizzle of vanilla custard sauce.  



Madeleines:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Sift together dry ingredients.  Set aside.

In mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick and increased in size, three to five minutes.  Add extracts and beat to combine.

Fold in flour, do not overmix.  Add a small amount of batter to butter and mix well, then slowly fold butter mixture into batter.

Chill for about an hour.

Oven at 375 degrees.  Butter and flour madeleine pan.  I used a miniature madeleine pan.  Fill the molds (about 3/4 the way full, leaving the mound in the center) and bake until golden around the edges and springy to the touch.  My minis took between seven and ten minutes.  When you remove them from the oven they should come out of the molds easily.

Strawberry Sauce:
5 strawberries
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds

Dice strawberries quite small.  Mix with sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for a minute.  Let sit in refrigerator until chilled.  Best served after chilling a day or two, but still good otherwise.

Vanilla Custard Sauce
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup half and half (it was what I had, you can use a cream/milk mixture also)
1/2 tbsp water
1 vanilla bean, seeds separated
2 tbsp sugar

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until frothy on top.  Heat remaining ingredients in a saucepan until it is almost boiling.  Whisk hot cream mixture into eggs, then return all to saucepan and heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.  Heat until it is a loose custard, about 1-2 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature, then chill.

Serve with the sauces and enjoy!