April 1 is a special day in my family. We get to celebrate not just one, but two birthdays! My cousin Bailey and my grandpa get to share their special day with each other. In honor of their birthday's, Bailey invited us all over for a "112th birthday party" this past Sunday. Since my favorite part about birthday celebrations is the cake, I offered to make some cupcakes to bring along. In my opinion you cannot have a birthday party without cake, it just isn't right.
For this occasion I had a few more restraints than normal. Dairy products don't agree well with Bailey so the only cake options I had were dairy free ones. This can be a challenge for me; I am partial to good old butter cakes piled high with sweet and fluffy buttercream, neither of which were an option for this party. I toyed around with a couple of different ideas before having that aha moment. Early on I had decided that a chocolate cupcake made with cocoa powder would work really well for the base. Cocoa is dairy free, and although I know you can find dairy free chocolate out there, I just wasn't going to get around to buying any in time.
What was really stumping me was the frosting. I am not a fan of using butter substitutes, I just don't think they taste good. Even the really nice brands without trans fats and all that other junk don't taste like butter. I like butter, and there really is no replacement in my book. I toyed with the idea of using coconut cream but I'm not a huge coconut fan and I'd never tried it before so didn't know how it would work. Then I came across a recipe for marshmallow frosting, basically just a meringue, and it all came together. Marshmallow frosting on a chocolate cake, only one thing is missing.... graham crackers! Who can resist a good old s'more, especially in cupcake form? The perfect dairy free cupcake to celebrate a couple of extra special people.
As for the frosting; I'd never made marshmallow frosting before, but I have made marshmallows, and it was pretty much the same thing, just without the gelatin. Pretty easy to whip together, but incredibly sticky! I thought the combination of the dark chocolate cake with the sweet and light marshmallow frosting was a winner; the two complemented each other so well. I finished the whole thing off with some homemade graham crackers (dairy free of course) and some graham cracker crumbs.
All I have left to say is: Happy Birthday Bailey and Grandpa! Have a wonderful day!
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 1 cups (4 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3/8 cup (1 1/8 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/8 cup (2 5/8 ounces) vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) coffee
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (I actually didn't have any and it worked fine without, cream of tarter just helps stabilize the egg whites, but you can go without if you have to)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake or muffin pans with papers.
Prepare the cake batter. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the coffee, beating until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cups; you'll pour a scant 1/4 cup batter (about 58g) into each cup. Bake the cupcakes for about 20-22 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes in the middle of the pan comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven. In about 5 minutes, or as soon as you can handle them, remove them from the pan, and place them on a rack to cool.
When the cupcakes are cool, make the frosting. Place the 2 egg whites in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat until the egg whites are foamy and thick; they should mound in the bowl, without holding a peak. Set them aside while you prepare the sugar syrup.
Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently; the sugar should be dissolved. If the sugar hasn't dissolved, cook and stir a bit more, until it has. Once the sugar has dissolved, boil the syrup, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, or until the syrup registers 240°F on a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer.
Begin to beat the egg whites, and immediately pour the boiling sugar syrup into the egg whites in a slow stream, beating all the while. As you beat, the mixture will thicken. Once all the syrup is added, stir in the vanilla, and continue to beat until the frosting is thick and will hold a peak.
Spoon the hot frosting atop the cooled cupcakes, swirling it decoratively.
Decorate while the frosting is still warm with graham crackers crumbs. You can also toast the edges of the frosting with a kitchen blow torch, or how I did it, using the flame on your gas stove. Just watch your fingers!
Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes + 6 mini cupcakes