The final stretch of summer is before us—the dog days, if you will. Schools will soon be ringing their bells, our jobs will beckon us back indoors, and the weather will slowly begin turning away from this humid heat into a brisk fall. And, I ask you, is there a more depressing thought?
I don't know about you, but I'm wondering where my summer went. It simply disappeared. Packed up and left. I like to imagine it escaped to a tropical paradise and left me behind, without even sending a postcard to drop a hello. I've been outside most of the summer (it is one of the perks of being a camp counselor), but somewhere along the way I forgot to appreciate it. I have a deep tan from working in the sun. I've been eaten alive by mosquitos on a near daily basis. I spent a week on the beach doing nothing but watching the tides flow in and out. Yet, I still feel as if summer has skipped me by, even though it isn't over just yet.
One of my favorite summer pastimes is to lounge in the sun on a beach chair in the backyard and read a good book while eating fruit roll-ups (yes, sometimes store-bought sugar hits the spot. Don't judge me and I won't judge the giant bag of gummi bears sitting in your cupboard. Oh, wait. That's me, too). I feel a bit ashamed to admit to this, but my beach chair is still packed away and the book left unopened. I feel like I haven't eaten enough ice cream. I haven't spent enough time riding my bike around the city. There is too much on my to-do list that I simply haven't done.
When I was younger, summer seemed to last forever. When August finally hit, I would be overheated, bored, and yearning for something new to do. I looked forward to school so I would finally have something to fill up the long hours in my day. Maybe that's the truth in growing older. Your responsibilities change and those long hours get swallowed up in working and obligations so that by the time you finally have the moment to do as you please, the sun has set and the television beckons.
Perhaps the real way to enjoy summer, to fully appreciate summer, is to slow down. It's about taking a minute to ignore the daily responsibilities—the dirty dishes and piles of laundry—to just go outside and play. Take a moment to visit a park, picnic in the backyard, or simply read that book out in the sun with a box of fruit roll-ups by your side.
I hope you find a way to enjoy the last few weeks of the sun, sun, sun before the carefree summer fades into the hustle and bustle of fall. Don't let it pass you by, not when there is ice cream to be eaten and smoothies to be slurped.
I can only hope these Malted Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Filling find a place on your summer playlist. A moist dark chocolate cupcake is filled with an ooey gooey toasted marshmallow filling and frosted with a rich, malted chocolate buttercream. These cupcakes feel as light as air, but one will be enough to sate your sweet cravings. The malted chocolate buttercream really ties the flavors in the cupcake together, so I do recommend you use this particular buttercream recipe instead of another. This cupcake is perfect for special occasions and lazy summer afternoons.
One Year Ago: Incredibly Moist Chocolate Prune Cake (this one is a keeper!)
Malted Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Filling
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Yields 18-24 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup strong black coffee (or 1 heaping tablespoon espresso powder dissolved in 1 cup water)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cupcake tin with baking cups.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and beat for 2-3 minutes on medium speed to mix. Batter will be liquidy.
Fill baking cups 2/3 of the way full and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs. Cool cupcakes to room temperature before filling and frosting.
Toasted Marshmallow Filling
8 large white marshmallows
1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff (or prepared marshmallow cream)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Turn oven on to broil. Place marshmallows 1-inch apart on a non-stick baking mat (such as a Silpat) or a parchment-covered baking sheet. Heat under broiler until lightly browned. Watch very closely! The marshmallows will brown very quickly.
In a medium bowl, beat together the toasted marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, shortening, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
Malted Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks or 1 cup) at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup malt powder
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
In a large bowl, beat together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and malt powder and mix on low speed until just combined. Add melted chocolate and whipping cream. Beat on high until well combined, about 2 minutes. Best if used immediately, but keeps well at room temperature.
Using a sharp knife (or cupcake corer), cut out a cavity in the center of the cupcake. I run the knife in a circular motion, while always pointing the knife towards the center of the cupcake. The cavity should be coned shaped. Using a pastry bag, fill the cupcake with the toasted marshmallow filling until the marshmallow just reaches the top.
Pipe the malted chocolate buttercream frosting on top of the cupcake. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles and whoppers.