Happy first day of summer! What better way to celebrate than with a dessert inspired by s’mores, one of the quintessential emblems of summertime leisure? I have to admit: I’ve never been crazy about actual s’mores. Toasted marshmallows make my throat a bit tingly, and not in a good way—more in an “I think I’m coming down with a cold” way. But the combination of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows is undeniably enticing, and after I recently had a s’mores cupcake from a local bakery, I knew I had to make my own version.
One of the things that sets this recipe for s’mores cupcakes apart from many of the others you’ll find is that this one uses crushed graham crackers to replace most of the flour, so the sweet, honeyed flavor of graham crackers permeates the cake itself. The graham crackers also give the cake an almost impossibly moist crumb—if the cake were any more tender, it would probably fall apart!
Another thing that sets this recipe apart is that it features a marshmallow buttercream, made with real marshmallow fluff. I’ve seen a lot of recipes for “marshmallow” frosting that don’t actually involve marshmallows, but instead use egg whites to form a meringue that can then be toasted to look like marshmallows. But I really wanted that marshmallow-y flavor, plus I couldn’t be bothered to bust out a blowtorch—it’s summer, after all! I may be willing to get up early to bake before the heat arrives in full force, but I’m not about to sweat on the cupcakes by carefully torching the frosting atop each one.
Since marshmallow fluff itself is pretty, well, fluffy, and not great at holding its shape, I used some shortening to help the frosting stiffen up. Shortening has a higher melting point than butter, so it helps the frosting keep its shape and not slide off the cupcakes if they’re sitting out for a bit. I actually made two different versions of the marshmallow buttercream—one with some shortening and one without—and then put them to the test by bringing the cupcakes to the boyfriend’s family, which meant sitting in a warm car for an hour (it was 90 degrees outside!). The frosting with shortening held up marvelously, while the frosting without flattened out and puddled on top of the cupcakes. Taste-wise, however, they’re very similar, so if presentation isn’t a priority, go ahead and skip the shortening.
These s’mores cupcakes will sweeten up any pool party or kid’s birthday party, but they’re certainly not just for kids—people of all ages will ooh and ahh over these decadent treats!
Which foods do you consider essential in order for it to feel like summer?
- 1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full cracker sheets)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature (dairy-free is fine)
- 1/2 cup shortening, at room temperature (optional, see note)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- crumbled graham crackers
- mini marshmallows or marshmallow bits
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the cups of a cupcake pan with paper liners.
- Using a food processor, process the graham crackers until finely ground (it should more or less resemble a powder). In a large bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups of the finely ground crumbs with the remaining dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt). Stir together until fully combined.
- Add the wet ingredients (water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract) to the bowl and mix until smooth.
- Portion the batter into the cupcake liners (about 1/4 cup per cupcake). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
- Prepare the buttercream: beat the butter and shortening (if using) in the bowl of a mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the marshmallow creme and gently fold it into the other ingredients. Pipe or spread the buttercream on the cooled cupcakes.
- Optional: sprinkle crumbled graham crackers and mini marshmallows/marshmallow bits on top of the buttercream. Microwave the chocolate chips until melted and transfer the melted chocolate to a plastic sandwich bag. Cut a small hole in one corner and pipe chocolate on top of the cupcakes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Makes 10-12 cupcakes.
- I use Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder, but any type of cocoa powder is fine.
- You can also make this in an 8x8 or 8-inch round pan. Grease and flour the pan. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. You will only need a half recipe of the buttercream to frost the top (and I recommend skipping the shortening).
- I made the buttercream both with and without the shortening. They taste nearly identical, but the one with shortening holds its shape (especially in the heat) much better than the one without. If you are just spreading a thin layer of buttercream on the cupcakes (or if you are making the cake in an 8x8 or 8-inch round pan), the version without shortening should be fine. If you are piping the buttercream and/or are frosting the cupcakes well ahead of when you are serving them, I recommend adding shortening. The amounts as listed will yield enough to pipe buttercream (as shown in the photos) on 10-12 cupcakes; you will have more than enough if you just spread a thin layer.
Cake Lover says
Happy summer! This recipe looks really great. Toasted marshmallows have kept me from enjoying s’mores, too ( my throat gets sore after two marshmallows) -so these cupcakes may be just the ticket!
Yes, these cupcakes are a great way to enjoy s’mores flavors without that uncomfy throat sensation – I’m glad I’m not the only one who experiences that!
Cake Lover says
I had this as a ~8.5″ round cake. Quick to put together – looks gorgeous on a cake stand. The taste was DEE-LISH!! Did I say that I do love cake?
Awesome! I’m glad you enjoyed this and that it worked out well being baked in a regular cake pan. And yes…I guessed that you’re a big fan of cake 😉
Heather @ Sweet Precision says
These pictures are absolutely fantastic Mara! S’mores are one of my favorite parts of summer and I love the idea of making them into a cupcake! Hope you’re enjoying the balmy summer weather we’ve been having!
Thanks, Heather! I hope you get a chance to try these sometime.
Jacqui bellefontaine says
dont do this to me I want to go make them like now!
I feel your pain! Ours are gone and I want to make more already.
HomeSweetJones (@HomeSweetJones) says
This is what I’m making for my team at work this week. Brilliant!
Excellent! Let me know how it goes 🙂
Stephanie | Worth Whisking says
Excellent choice for the first day of summer, Mara! So scrumptious! Love the use of crushed graham crackers in lieu of flour for extra flavor!
Thanks, Stephanie! You can really taste the graham crackers in the cake – it’s a great twist on regular chocolate cake.
Oh my everything about this just looks perfect and I sure wish I had some to eat right now.
Thanks so much! I wish I had some right now as well…they went too quickly!
Woah these look really amazing. My girlfriend makes the best potato salad and it never feels like summer until she makes a batch of it!
Thanks! And I agree…it’s not summer without potato salad!
I love the traditional s’mores but I’m always up for a twist and these cupcakes sound amazing! I love that the graham cracker flavors is part of the cake and that you used marshmallows (fluff anyway) for the frosting – yes please! Pinned!
Thanks, Kathryn! Yes, I love being able to taste the graham crackers in the cake as well as on top. I hope you get a chance to try these!
Culinary Flavors says
OMG! These cupcakes scream my name!
You and me both! Thanks for stopping by.
Jenna Owens (@aSavoryFeast) says
Wow, these just look so so so good! I love the idea of marshmallow buttercream. That sounds amazing!
Thanks, Jenna! I love the marshmallow buttercream – I feel like it has a bit more flavor than ordinary buttercream.
these look so delicious! I love s’mores!
Thanks, Tianna! I’m glad these caught your eye.
Oh, these are most definitely on my list of must-eat foods for the summer, Mara! I need to come and take lessons from you on making cupcakes look amazing. Mine always turn out ok, but never quite like what I picture in my mind (which is basically these!). We have a 4th of July party coming up soon, and I’m thinking we need a batch of these cupcakes waiting for everyone. Amazing work!
Thanks so much, David! It’s actually been over two years since I last posted a cupcake recipe because I was always frustrated with how mine looked. I think it really comes down to having a good frosting recipe. I hope you love these as much as we do if you give them a try!
Debbie Spivey says
These look delicious! Love s’mores anything!
Thanks, Debbie! I’m glad these caught your eye.
Elaine @ foodbod says
Happy Summer! Sadly here in the UK all we’ve had since summer officially arrived is rain!!!
im sure your cakes would make lots of people smile through the rain…thank you for sharing them with everyone at Fiesta Friday 🙂
Oh gosh…I hope some sunny days are headed your way soon. But like you said – these cupcakes would certainly brighten up dreary days! Thanks for hosting this week!
Looks delicious. I like the idea of the graham crackers in the cake flour mix itself. Happy Fiesta, Mara! 🙂
Thanks, Ahila! The graham cracker crumbs add such a lovely, subtle flavor. I hope you get a chance to try these!
We love S’more too!! These cupcakes are what summer’s all about!! Thanks for bringing to Fiesta Friday 🙂 🙂
Thanks, Linda! I agree – these cupcakes have summer written all over them!
Wow, these cupcakes look great! I have never tried graham crackers in a cake batter, but it sounds delicious! And the frosting sounds divine too…..I think my kids would love these!
Thanks, Jenny! I’ve had graham cracker cake before, but never a chocolate version – I’m pleased that you can still taste the flavor of the graham crackers and the chocolate doesn’t completely overwhelm it. I hope you get a chance to try these!
the happiest pixel says
Great recipe, my happy pixel!! Your cupcakes look yummy, I want to eat them all!!
Thanks, Silvia! I’m glad you stopped by 🙂
Justine @ Born and Bred in Brooklyn says
How delicious!! I love the idea of replacing the flour with graham cracker crumbs, that’s so clever. I’ve never been a huge s’mores fan either (being that I’m not a huge chocolate lover), but these definitely make me want to bust out the mixing bowls!
Wow, I’m flattered that this recipe has drawn the attention of someone who isn’t even a huge chocolate fan! Let me know what you think if you give the cupcakes a try!
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says
These are a great looking cupcake!
Thanks, Kathy! I think so too…but then again, I’m biased!
Julie is Hostess At Heart says
Mara these are some of the prettiest cupcakes that I’ve seen in a long time!
Thank you so much, Julie! And I think they taste even better than they look!
I’ve never had Smores before but I definitely feel like missing out on something fabulous! Your cupcakes look so good they make me wanna try Smores right now!
S’mores aren’t for everyone (some people find them too sweet, too messy, etc.), but they’re certainly a treat worth trying if you get a chance! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Your S’mores cupcakes look absolutely delicious. I love that the cake is mostly graham cracker crumbs. Pinned for later!
Thanks, Lily! I’m not even a big fan of graham crackers on their own, but I *love* this cake. I hope you’ll enjoy the cupcakes as much as we do!
Gorgeous cupcakes!! Thanks for sharing
Thanks, Suchitra! I’m glad these caught your eye 🙂
These look amazing Mara!
Thanks, Antonia! I hope you get a chance to try them!
Oh my. As a s’more devotee, I am SO making these. And you know how it goes with s’mores: if you only have one, it’s just a some. I WILL NOT settle for some. Stopping by from Foodie FriDIY!
I can attest that it’s difficult to stop after just one of these cupcakes as well! Thanks so much for stopping by, and please let me know what you think if you make these!
Natasha @ Salt & Lavender says
Mmmm these look fantastic!! It started feeling like summer for me when we got our BBQ finally… a couple months ago haha.
Thanks, Natasha! I’m gearing up for my first BBQ of the summer tomorrow – I can’t believe it’s taken me so long!
Seriously some of the best cupcakes I’ve seen in a long time! YUM!!! I wanted to let you know I shared them as a feature this week at #FoodieFriDIY! You can check it out here – http://bowl-me-over.com/foodie-fridiy-102-happy-4th-july/ – join us again this week, the party is live now!
Thank you so much Debra, both for your kind words and for including these cupcakes as one of this week’s features! I always look forward to Foodie FriDIYs. I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday weekend!
Any adjustments for high altitude and what kind of shortening is best? Thanks! They look amazing. Going to make them for a camping theme baby shower.
Thanks, Glenda! I’ve never lived at a high altitude, so unfortunately I don’t have personal experience with this, but I found an article by Cook’s Country that has some general tips here: https://www.cookscountry.com/how_tos/5889-high-altitude-baking
As for the shortening, I typically use Crisco sticks. Let me know how it goes!