I’m a sucker for s’mores. Marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers… so good. Gourmet chocolate and homemade marshmallows, or Hersheys at Jet-Puffed, doesn’t matter. I have been known to try pretty much anything on a menu or in a grocery store tied into s’mores. I have also been known to eat them for breakfast.
Anyway, no matter how much I plan — or don’t plan — the month of June, it’s always busy and never long enough. But, we had four birthdays in my office group in June, including my own, and I wasn’t going to let the month go by without a happy hour. I remembered seeing Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, and that it involved a blow torch, and my Thursday night was sealed.
This is a fairly heavy cake, so keep the servings small. I think it would also work well as cupcakes, with the milk chocolate as filling.
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman
Makes one two-layer cake, serving 16
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more from pans
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 cups (170 grams) finely processed honey graham crackers (about 14 sheets)
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken
8 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 pinches salt
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Special equipment: Kitchen torch
Make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9″ round cake pans, line them with circles of parchment paper, then butter or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition. Add one-third of the dry ingredients, half the buttermilk, and continue alternating, mixing between each addition until combined. Scrape down bowl and mix again if needed.
Divide batter between prepared cake pans, smoothing tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan on racks for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the outer edges and transfer cakes to cooling racks, discarding parchment paper. Let cool completely.
Make the filling: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Combine heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Set over another bowl filled with ice water, and stir it until it firms up to a spreadable consistency. (To slow down cooling, cool in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally to ensure even thickening)
Arrange one cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand. If desired, use a long serrated knife to level the top of the cake; discard scraps. Spread chocolate thickly over bottom layer, then top with second cake layer. Level the top of the cake if desired.
Make the frosting: You’ll need to use the frosting immediately. Place egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Beat with an electric mixer (if using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment), starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 4 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.
Frost the cake: Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the top and sides, binding the crumbs to the cake. Transfer the cake to the fridge for 5 minutes, then generously coat the top and sides with frosting. If you like, decorate the cake by piping additional frosting into big marshmallow-like dollops, or swirl it with your knife. Make sure there is nothing flammable around you. Using a kitchen torch on a low setting, lightly brown the frosting to create a toasted marshmallow effect.