Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Want S'More!!!

S'more cupcakes at our Farmer's Market

It is definitely fall in New England.  Chilly damp mornings give way to warmer days, and then the air is crisp again in the evening.  While many think of s'more as a summertime treat, to me this time of year is the best for campfires.  The hordes of mosquitoes that descend on us in our backyard have died down, it's just cool enough for the fire to warm you, and it gets dark early enough that you don't have to keep the kids up past their bedtime to enjoy a fire.

Which is exactly what we did the other night - two nights before the big race.  I'm going to tell you now one of the most important secrets you will ever learn in your life.  How to make a perfect s'more.

The ingredients
It all starts with the basics - marshmallows, graham crackers, and Nutella.  Wait, Nutella you say?  What about the Hersey bar??  YES.  If anyone has not yet tried this chocolate hazelnut spread (nut allergies beware), you must go directly to the grocery store and buy as much as you possibly can.  It is great on waffles, bread, fruit, and probably even on bugs, snails, iron filings, and all sort of other things as well.  It is also a great cupcake filling and the star ingredient in our Vanilla Nutella cupcakes.  Using Nutella instead of a Hershey Bar means that you get immediate and even distribution of the chocolate throughout your s'more, and you don't have the cracking problem that comes when you try to bite into what is essentially a graham cracker with gooey marshmallow and a still-rock-hard piece of chocolate.  It is genius.  My husband is the original architect of this masterpiece, and I think it's one of the best things I've gained from our marriage.  That and our marshmallow roasters:

Always keep an eye on your child labor when fire is involved
So stab those marshmallows and roast 'em, torch 'em - however you like them.  (I've learned that how one prefers their marshmallow is a very personal and often passionate subject, so I will not presume to dictate the best method.)  Then take your roasted marshmallow, sandwich between graham crackers smeared with Nutella and go for it!

Marshmallow cheeked within 5 seconds.  Amazing, this girl.

Translating this favorite treat into cupcake form is easy.  Bake your favorite chocolate cupcakes, and fill with marshmallow fluff.  I like to use an apple corer to pop out a little hole in each cupcake, then squirt in the very-sticky fluff from a ziplock baggie with the corner cut off.  Replace the cake "plug", and top with vanilla buttercream.  You can mix vanilla buttercream and more fluff together to make a more marshmallow-y frosting, if you like.  Then roll in crush graham crackers.  For our customers, we top our cupcakes with a large marshmallow cut in half with scissors that's been dipped halfway in dark chocolate.  Yum.

So now it is two days after my big race.  Many people have been asking me how I'm feeling.  There's a lot of ways to answer that.  A little tired.  Not at all sore.  But mostly, I feel like I want S'MORE.  As I was turning out the light the night after the race, I told my husband "I feel like Christmas is over".  Except that, instead of just one month of commercialized, anxiety-ridden, joy filled insanity between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there were six months of it building up to my last race in the triathlon season.  I've poured my body, soul, marriage, and social life into training.  I've made new friends.  I've lost some friends.  I've been injured (many times).  In the end, the race went so well I couldn't have asked for anything better, and yet I'm left with the very strong feeling that a) I should have raced an Olympic distance instead of a sprint, and b) I'm not ready for it to end.

I spent most of yesterday in the grips of some serious depression, as well as Race Registration Compulsion Disorder.  It goes something like this: "I can find an Oly this year.  Sure all my weekends are booked for the next two months, so maybe October.  The air temp will be in the 40s, but maybe the water will still be in the 60s, and I have a wetsuit, so that's not that bad....  but wait I have a Sunday two weeks from now!  It's in New Hampshire.  That's a 3 hour drive.  But ok, I can take a hotel if I just do soccer practice with the kids, then deliver that cake, then drive until midnight.  The registration is $150, plus the hotel would be another $200.... so I'll need to book at least one more wedding cake in the next two months.  But all my weekends are booked.  Ok, so I'll just take some more vacation time......"  and so on.

After texting my very understanding sister-in-law who is also a triathlete and personal trainer, my coach, and various other people, I finally wrote to my Tribuddy with the problem.  She is a wonderful friend because she gives great, practical advice.  Like "sign up for a 70.3 even though you've never done an Oly".  Oh no wait - just kidding.  But she is very practical and frugal, and quickly convinced me that my crazy plan was not, in fact, in the same universe as a good idea.  Instead she suggested I focus on my running, which could use a lot of work, and would I like to do a 10K race with her that same Sunday I was targeting instead?  Much better.

Chilling in the grass
So now I'm working on a 10K training plan this fall.  Yes, I've already raced that distance, but I think actually following a training plan might help me build my endurance and speed without having to stop for injury every two weeks.  And it gives me some structure.  And hopefully, fingers crossed, lets me relax a bit and enjoy the fall and the "down time" from all-out triathlon training.

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