We've had the winter that just won't quit here, and so after pondering what to do with the marshmallows, I came up with the idea of melting some snowmen. At the beginning of the month this seemed like mostly wishful thinking: we still had 2-3 feet of snow in the front, and were getting more at pretty regular intervals. I was a little cabin crazy, to say the least.
I started out with yer basic chocolate cupcake recipe (it was also the base for the Maple-Chocolate Cupcakes last month), and I really didn't mess with it too much, just substituted peanut butter for the butter it calls for. I scaled the recipe to make, but really it makes about 12.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
* 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/8 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 cup and 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/8 tsp salt
* 1 T and 1-1/2 tsp creamy peanut butter
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1 eggs
* 1 tsp double-proof vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup (whole) milk
Preheat to 350F. Mix together dry ingredients, set aside. Cream sugar and peanut butter. (This takes a little longer than creaming butter, but it did work.) Add egg. If you double the recipe, add them one at a time. Mix well, then beat in the vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with the milk. Fill cupcake papers 1/2 full. I went a bit shallow on the cupcakes because the "frosting" can't help but be bulky. This means you'll have to watch them closely at the end of the baking time as they may be done early. Bake 14-16 minutes. There should be some empty space at the top of your papers, so let them cool a bit in the pan rather than dumping them out. Once they are cool enough to handle without burning yourself, pull them out of the pan with your fingers so the papers don't get crushed. Take a sharp knife and
"core" the cupcakes, cutting a hollow in the tops. Any tops that you don't eat put in a bowl to use in the next step.
Dirty Snow Topping
Abt 1/3 package Peanut Butter Double-stuff Oreos
About 1 cup vanilla pudding
About 1/3+ package Cool Whip
Tops cut out of the cupcakes
Making this stuff is not an exact science, and because I use bulk pudding, it's hard to know how many packages of that would be equivalent to what I used. The trick to balance the crumbs and the pudding-stuff to get a texture and look that pleases. Mix together the Cool Whip and pudding. In another bowl, take your cookies and your cupcake tops and smash them to smithereens. I used my pastry blender and it worked like a charm. It should look like dirt when you're done. (After all, this is Dirt Cake we're making here, just not arranged so prettily as it usually is.) Fold the crumbs into the pudding. I started with about 1/2 the package of cookies and got to the desired consistency/look at about 2/3 of the package, but I doubled the cupcake recipe since I was giving cupcakes to 2 families this time. You want it to look like that melted snow mess at the end of the driveway in the spring, so don't quite mix in the crumbs completely. There should be some that are still dry enough to look like dirt, but it's also got to stick together well enough to stay on the cupcakes.
3 Mini marshmallows for each cupcake
empty granola box
First, make a marshmallow melting apparatus: Stab a toothpick through the side of a granola box or whatever you have handy. Jello boxes were too tough: they broke the toothpick. My Sunbelt granola box worked handily, but obviously it doesn't matter. You just need to be able to stand a toothpick up on end in the microwave.
Spear 3 marshmallows & stand it up on your box. Microwave for 5-10 seconds. Watch carefully, and stop as soon as they start puffing; they're plenty warm enough to "melt" by then. I usually stopped at about 5 seconds, but it just worked better to put 10 seconds on the clock each time. (Don't just let these things go, as I've heard that they explode when nuked too long. Don't say I didn't warn ya!) Pull the toothpick out and stab it into the cupcake, pushing it down enough to sort of compress the marshmallows to give them a "melted" look.