So, apparently, I’ve developed a reputation. I’m the destroyer of good intentions. The diet-breaker. The one who shows up to Bible study with a dessert that features 3 sticks of butter and 3 cups of sugar. (Cut me SOME slack here… it was a 9″ x 13″ pan; there was fruit in it; AND I used some whole wheat pastry flour. And they were every bit as good as they sound. Moving on.) 🙂
In spite of the evidence against me (all circumstantial, of course), I do make some things that aren’t complete calorie-bombs. Mango pineapple salsa. Maple walnut granola. Chickpea pasta. Quinoa with mango and black beans. I do my best to make sure we’re eating our veggies, and I’m trying to get outside for a walk at lunchtime each day.
But… let’s be honest. Making fancy desserts is FUN. At least for me. Give me a Saturday in my kitchen, just me and some butter, sugar and the KitchenAid mixer, and I’m as happy as a clam. (Side note: Can anyone explain what exactly makes clams happy? They sit in the mud/sand all day, hoping they don’t end up in somebody’s chowder.)
And that brings us to the cake I made for the first cookout of the year, hosted by my partner-in-cake-decorating-crime. What’s better at a cookout than s’mores? Especially at a cookout with a bonfire! I went back and forth, trying to decide between s’mores cupcakes and an actual s’mores cake. Finally, I went with the s’mores cake… simply because I’ve made the cupcakes before, and I love to try something new. Especially when I have a willing bunch of test subjects.
Oh, and I got to play with my kitchen torch too. Best. Day. Ever. 😀
For the cake:
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the pans
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups graham cracker crumbs, finely processed into a powder (this takes about 14 graham crackers)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar (I did the ‘add molasses to light brown sugar” trick here.)
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken
For the filling:
1/2 lb. milk chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 pinches of salt
For the frosting:
4 large egg whites (save the yolks and make some ice cream!)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9″ round cake pans, and then line the cake pans with parchment paper. Then, butter your parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until they’re light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Once the eggs are beaten into the butter, add one-third of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix briefly. Add about half of the buttermilk and mix briefly again. Add another third of the dry ingredients, and then the rest of the buttermilk, giving the batter a quick mix in between. Add the rest of the dry ingredients, scrape the sides of the bowl, and mix until combined.
Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans. (I channeled my inner nerd and got out my kitchen scale, weighing each pan to be sure they were even.) Smooth the batter in the pans, and then bake until the cakes test “done” with a toothpick, about 30-35 minutes. (I checked at 28 minutes, and then at 33.) Remove pans from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Flip the cakes out of the pans, and peel off the parchment paper. Let cool completely before proceeding.
To make the filling, place the chocolate in a small, heat-proof bowl. Pour the cream and the salt into a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Whisk until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Fill a large bowl with ice water, and then place the bowl with the chocolate in the water bath to thicken and cool, stirring occasionally.
When you’re ready to assemble the cake, place one round on a cake stand. Spread the chocolate filling on the top of the layer and top with the second cake layer.
Next, make the frosting. (Since this is a marshmallow frosting, you’ll want to use it as soon as it’s done.) Place the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture constantly, cooking until the sugar is dissolved and egg whites are warm to the touch. Place the bowl on the stand mixer, and, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form. (You’ll want to start at a low speed and gradually work your way up to a high speed.) Add the vanilla and mixture until combined.
Frost the cake with a thin coating of the marshmallow frosting, sealing in all of the crumbs. Refrigerate the cake for 10 minutes or so, to firm up the crumb coat. Using an offset spatula, spread the rest of the frosting all over the cake in thick dollops. Take a spoon, and create swirls in the frosting with the back of the spoon (similar to this technique). When the cake is swirled to your liking, brown the frosting with a kitchen torch set on the low setting.
Serve within a few hours. (I baked the cake on a Saturday morning, then frosted about an hour or so before the cookout. We cut into the cake about four hours after it was finished, and it was still in good shape. And while the leftovers tasted great the next day, the frosting had started to melt/dissolve.)
From the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Click here for a printable version.