How to Make the Easiest Marshmallow Frosting Ever, plus chocolate-marshmallow & chocolate-chocolate cupcakes!

Floptimism is turning into a little blog entry factory, isn’t it? It’s this time of year. I may be the only college student who is bored out of her mind by finals week. I can’t help it. Classes are over so I don’t have any more assignments to worry about, SDA inductions have passed so there’s not much else to do extra-curricularly, and let’s face it – how long each day can you really spend studying? I max out at a few hours, and that still leaves a whole lot of spare time. I’ve come down with a pretty serious case of the baking bug from all this boredom, but I just can’t justify making more baked goods when I’m currently trying to eat my way through one of the most obscenely large collections of leftover desserts currently occupying space in my little freezer.

So, since I can’t bake, I better write about all of those delicious leftovers instead, right? And today, National Cocoa Day, how can I not tell you all about these chocolate cupcakes that I made earlier in the semester for my sister’s boyfriend’s birthday? When I heard that he liked that Entenman’s Chocolate Marshmallow Cake, I thought I’d recreate it with a recipe I saw for chocolate cupcakes and the easiest, neatest marshmallow frosting you will ever find. Seriously, you just put 1 marshmallow on top of each mostly-baked cupcake and return it to the oven for no more than 5 minutes. And you have a melty, gooey, absolutely delicious (and totally messy, I’ll admit) frosting. Mine were extra messy because I was using these monstrosities of the marshmallow world that are probably 3-4 times the size of any normal, self-respecting marshmallow. I did cut each giant ‘mallow in half, but they still slowly took over the baking pan and left me with one heck of a mess. So, use a normal marshmallow, or even several mini ones. You don’t need much.

As far as the actual cupcake goes, I was decidedly unimpressed. I found it dry and uninteresting. In fact, I was ready to completely write it off and move on in my search for The Perfect Chocolate Cupcake, but then something unexpected happened. I wound up only frosting about half of the cupcakes, and so I stuck the other ones into the freezer. For SDA Inductions, I figured I would take them out, thaw them, and slice them up into thirds to make little cake-lets. I’d frost them with some chocolate buttercream I had hanging out in my freezer (I’m really not kidding – I have more frozen desserts than any normal person should ever have in her position at any given time). To my surprise, the once-dry cupcakes thawed into these almost-too-moist little cakes! In fact I had trouble getting some of them to not fall apart and get totally smashed. In order to layer the cakelets in the Tupperware once frosted I actually had to freeze them again just so they wouldn’t turn into one jumbled mess! Those chocolate cupcakes that I swore were not good enough wound up tasting fantastic and they were a total hit at inductions. Now, I personally want a chocolate cupcake that’s better when fresh rather than needing to freeze and thaw it to get the right consistency, but regardless, I was impressed by the end end product.

So whether you’re making chocolate cupcakes and plopping a marshmallow on top or swirling them with chocolate buttercream (and, admittedly, garnishing with a cranberry when the plain, piped buttercream wound up looking just a little bit too much like dog poop for comfort….), these actually wound up being pretty great! In fact, after inductions I just piled all of the leftovers into one Tupperware container, forming a giant mass of crumbly chocolatey goodness. I’m not at all dreading the night I sit down and dig into that freezer leftover!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow or Chocolate Frosting, adapted from Not Without Salt
Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes

The Ingredients
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour1
¾ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar2
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
¾ cup warm water
¾ cup (low fat) milk + 2 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 marshmallows or chocolate buttercream, for frosting
24 cranberries, for garnish (optional)

The Method
Preheat the oven to 350° and line two cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.

Whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugars, and baking powder and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla until smooth.

Fill each cupcake pans about 1/3 full (I would suggest a scant 2 scoops of the OXO medium cookie scoop) and bake in the oven until the cupcake tops spring back when gently pressed, approximately 20 minutes.

If using marshmallows for frosting, remove the cupcakes from the oven and lightly press one marshmallow onto each cupcake. Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes, enough to soften the marshmallow. Remove from the oven again and press down lightly to slightly flatten the marshmallow and allow it to melt and spread over the entire cupcake top. Optionally, return to the broiler just briefly to give a toasted marshmallow effect. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

If using the chocolate buttercream for frosting, remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool completely before frosting.3 Pipe the frosting on and, optionally, garnish with 1 cranberry per cupcake. Store in an airtight container or the freezer.

1I didn’t try a whole wheat flour with this, but judging by how dry my batch came out I would suggest using caution if you’d like to experiment (whole wheat flours attract more water, leading to a drier product).
2I didn’t have dark brown sugar so I used ¾ cup light brown sugar plus a scant tablespoon of molasses (use the ratio 1 tablespoon per cup of sugar).
3If you’d like cakelets as I made, simply horizontally slice each cupcake into thirds and frost each little disc separately. You could also re-stack the slices for a cupcake tower! 


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