Ever since I had my first one, sitting in front of a roaring campfire with a semi-clean stick skewered with lots of toasting marshmallows, I have been a big fan of s’mores. If I could go back in time, only thing I’d do differently now is to use a really clean skewer for my marshmallows, but when you’re camping and very young, you don’t tend to think about those things. I still like classic s’mores made with squares of milk chocolate, store bought graham crackers and jet puffed marshmallows. Now that my culinary skills are a little improved, however, I do like to experiment a little bit and see how I can get even more flavor out of my s’mores. Homemade graham crackers and homemade marshmallows are great examples of small changes. A big change is to turn a simple s’more into a S’mores Cake.
You don’t need a campfire for this cake, but you do need an oven. It’s a graham cracker cake, layered with marshmallow creme and milk chocolate frosting. The cake is made with graham cracker crumbs where you might otherwise use all purpose flour, and is leavened with both baking powder and egg whites that have been beaten to soft peaks. The finished cake is light in texture, but has a ton of graham cracker flavor. It is very moist, so it will crack if it isn’t handled with care when you’re stacking up the layers.
The milk chocolate frosting – chosen because the typical s’more uses milk chocolate – is almost like a milk chocolate ganache. It is made with chocolate, half and half and butter. The thing that differentiates it is that I included a little bit of corn syrup, which gives it a shiny look and makes it very easy to work with. The marshmallow creme is just store-bought marshmallow creme. It spreads onto the cake easily and stays nice and soft, making the cake easy to cut and serve.
One final note: a fire pit makes a great backdrop for a photo of a S’mores cake, but the cake really isn’t designed to hold up to heat of any kind. Both the frosting and the marshmallow creme are a little heat-sensitive. Unless it’s a cold day, you can – and should – store this cake in the fridge to keep everything intact. The cake will stay moist and tender even after a couple of days in the fridge. But if you don’t mind a melty, slightly messy cake that is like a real s’more, than by all means, go for the fire.
Graham Cracker Cake
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs*
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 large egg whites, room temperature
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray or oil and line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, salt. Working in two or three additions, alternate stirring the graham cracker mixture and the milk into the butter mixture.
Beat egg whites to soft peaks in a clean, medium-sized bowl. Working in 2 or three additions, fold egg whites into graham cracker mixture, mixing until no streaks of white remain.
Divide evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cakes cool in pans for 3 minutes, then invert onto wire racks (remove parchment paper) to cool completely before filling and frosting.
To assemble: Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread about 1/2 cup of the chocolate frosting onto the cake, then spread the marshmallow creme into an even layer.
Top marshmallow layer with second cake round, then pour remaining frosting over the top, spreading it into an even layer with an offset spatula and allowing it to drip slightly down the sides of the cake.
Cake will set up quickly, and should be stored in the refrigerator if not being served shortly after being assembled.
Makes 1 9-inch cake, Serves 8-10
Marshmallow Filling and Milk Chocolate Frosting
1 7-oz jar marshmallow creme
8-oz milk chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup half and half/cream
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp corn syrup
In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate, half and half, butter and corn syrup until melted. Stir with a fork or small whisk to ensure that everything comes together smoothly. Proceed to assemble cake (above) once the frosting is prepared.
*If you grind your own grahams in the food processor, you’ll need about 20 graham cracker squares. I used a regular store brand, nothing fancy. Grind a little extra, so you don’t have to go try and process one by itself if you’re short.