Sunday, May 5, 2013

S'mores Mini Pies

So this last winter was the first winter we had a wood-stove.  Man, it was awesome.  On chilly mornings I would fire that thing up and sit in my chair right next to it, getting all toasty warm with a quilt and a cup of coffee.

Another bonus: since we had a fire going constantly, and we had some marshmallows leftover from last camp season, I got into the habit of making myself a toasty, tasty, one-serving treat for a dessert every now and then -- yes, a s'more, right in my house.  That campfire taste instantly took me right back to 4th of July gatherings at my grandparents' house when I was a kid.  That toasty, roasty tastewas a time machine straight to childhood nostalgia, and that sweet, crunchy, chocolately, melty bite was a perfect mouthful of a treat.

I highly recommend getting a wood stove, just for this purpose.
But now with the warmer weather upon us, the wood stove is in hibernation mode until the fall.  But the idea of a single-serving dessert with that campfire charm still sounded like a great idea. Thus was born the idea of creating some mini s'mores pies.

I've seen all sorts of similar s'mores-inspired treats around the web, s'mores-flavored desserts apparently being all the rage, but I thought I would construct my own version.

The step-by-step:

First, grease and line the pans

I used jumbo muffin pans.  I greased the pans, then used "patty paper" liners, and molded them into the cups of the pan with my hand, and then kind of squashed the papers in real good with the bottom of a cup.

I found sippy cups work well.

I'm sure you could use regular cupcake liners for jumbo muffin pans just fine.  I just like the look of these.  Plus I had some on hand.  (Thank you, Joanne).

Make the crumb crusts

Make your crackers into crumbs.   You can use the old ziploc-bag-and-rolling-pin method, which works just fine, or you can save yourself the hassle and use a food processor.  Either way, you need about 2 cups of crumbs.

Mix with melted butter, sugar, and cornstarch.  Just use a fork and toss it all around until all the crumbs are moist.  Dry crumbs bad.  Moist crumbs good.

A couple of tablespoons of crust-crumbs into each muffin spot, and another round with the sippy cup, patting the crumbs firmly into cute little individual crusts.

Make the chocolate filling

Now for the chocolate filling.  First thing to do is separate the eggs.  The whites go into a clean, dry, heat-proof mixing bowl for later. (Or double boiler if you've got one). The yolks go into any old mixing bowl for the chocolate filling.

 Set aside the whites to make the frosting later.

Add the sugar and vanilla to the yolks and mix.

Now add the cocoa, flour and salt.

Next add in the milk and melted butter.

I used a spring-handled ice-cream type scoop to get the filling into each muffin cup.  I use this baby all the time for muffins, cupcakes, and dishing up lots of servings of anything to a crowd. It's great to keep you consistent -- same amount every time.  I love my scoop.

Bake crust and filling

Bake. In my oven, it took about 23 minutes.  But, I live in Eastern Europe.  Electricity is an iffy thing.  Just bake it til a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Make the marshmallow frosting

And last, the icing on the cake.  Literally.  This is a recipe for marshmallow frosting, which is basically an egg-white meringue, except that the sugar gets melted into the egg whites before whipping.

Take those whites you set aside earlier.  Whisk in double-boiler (actual or improvised) until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warmish-hot.  (But not so hot they cook).  Check by feeling with your fingers.  If you still feel the gritty sugar, keep whisking.

Remove from heat, transfer to a mixing bowl.  Then, you must whip it.  Whip it good.  Whip it into shape.  Shape it up.  Get straight. Go forward.  Move ahead...  uhh. I digress.  Just keep going until you've got nice stiff, shiny meringue.

Keep whipping.

Not there yet.

That's it.  Perfect.

Pipe and broil the frosting.

At this point, you can just spoon this stuff on top of the chocolate filling, or if you want to get a little fancy, you can pipe it on with a ziploc (cut the corner off and use like a piping bag) or a piping bag.

Stick it under the broiler for just a teeny bit (like a minute) until the frosting starts getting that golden, toasted-marshmallow look to it.  Watch it CLOSELY.  It only takes a couple nanoseconds to go from beautiful golden brown to flaming, scorched mess.

Now, place on a cooling rack and.... voila! There you have it.  S'mores mini pies.  Cute as can be.  And delicious. No wood stove or campfire required.

The Recipe:

Makes 20 mini pies

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

6 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup melted butter

6 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

To prepare the pans: If using "patty paper", then grease 20 jumbo muffin cups, and press paper into each cup. You can use a drinking glass to really press it in.

For the crust, combine the crumbs and sugar together.  Add in the melted butter, mixing thoroughly with a fork until all crumbs are moistened.  Place 2 Tablespoons of the crumb mixture into each muffin cup. Press down with the bottom of a drinking glass to form the crust.

For the filling, separate the whites and yolks of 6 eggs.  Place the whites in a heat-proof mixing bowl and set aside to make the frosting.  To the yolks, add the sugar and vanilla, and beat until well combined.  Next add the cocoa powder, flour, salt and milk.  Beat again until thoroughly combined and add the melted butter.  Mix.  Divide the filling between the muffin cups.  Bake 325F (or about 160C).  In  my oven this took about 23 minutes.  Test with a toothpick and remove from oven when the toothpick comes out mostly clean.  Change the oven temperature to BROIL.

While the filling is baking, put the heat-proof bowl of egg whites over a pan of simmering water and add the sugar and salt.  Whisk until the sugar dissolves and the whites are warmish-hot.  Then remove from heat and let cool some.  Whip with electric mixer until the mixture is stiff and glossy.  Pipe onto the baked pies with a piping bag or ziploc bag with a corner cut off.

Put the frosted pies back into the oven for about a minute under the broiler.  WATCH CAREFULLY. Remove as soon as the pies turn a nice toasty golden brown.

Cool and enjoy!