There is something about the combination of graham crackers, toasted marshmallow, and chocolate that speaks to me. While I enjoy their combined taste, I find I am compelled towards them also because of positive associations I have with the idea of a s’mores and youthfulness and frivolity. S’mores are a carefree snack that oftentimes reminds people of their childhood even if they never made s’mores growing up.
It is also one of the few quintessentially American foods, and I think anyone who considers themselves American needs to have had a s’more at least once. If I were running the show, during the swearing ceremony for U.S. citizenship, it would be mandatory to eat a s’more.
(Don’t worry, there would be imitation s’mores available for those unable to eat an authentic s’more because of dietary restrictions.)
Anyway, it was my brother’s birthday recently and when I asked him what kind of cake/pie/dessert I should make to celebrate it did not take him long to decide he wanted a s’mores cake (I also suggested cookies and cream cake and plain chocolate cake, but he was most into s’mores pitch).
I looked online for a while trying to find a recipe for a s’mores cake. I found some, but none that really delivered exactly what I was looking for. Some were more along the lines of a s’mores pie, while others featured graham cracker flavored cake (why would you want this over chocolate cake base?), and I found the use of marshmallow fluff over actual marshmallows to be in bad taste.
Long story short: I came up with my own game-plan. I found a chocolate cake recipe and added graham cracker pieces to it. Then I put a layer of toasted marshmallows in between two layers of cake and covered the top with melted Hershey’s bars. Along the sides I ‘glued’ on graham crackers with toasted marshmallows.
It turned out ok (my brother loved it) but it definitely took on that ‘homespun’ sorta look. ‘Lop-sided’ is a word I might use in describing it. But hey, it was from da heart people…
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 10 oz. bag of large marshmallows (I didn’t use the entire bag)
- 4 regular sized Hershey bars (I used 2 milk chocolate and 2 dark)
- about 1 box of honey/plain graham crackers
Here you can see my mise-en-place:
1. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, then eggs.
2. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. Sour milk by adding lemon juice. (Or you can omit regular milk and lemon juice and use buttermilk).
4. Add flour alternately with soured milk to the creamed mixture.
5. In a separate bowl, mix cocoa and hot water until dissolved. Beat into creamed mixture.
6. Brake graham crackers into pieces. I broke mine into about 1/2″ inch pieces and smaller. Gently fold cracker pieces into the cake batter. Make sure you do not over mix the cake batter! This will inhibit its ability to raise and it will make the cake more tough. This is because when you over mix you are toughening the proteins in the flour.
7. Pour batter into greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 min, or until you can stick a knife or toothpick in it and it comes out clean.
8. Allow cake to cool completely. Cut it in half down the middle. Each half should be about 6″ inches.
9. Slice marshmallows in half and place on a sheet of aluminum foil or toaster-safe tray. Place in toaster-oven and toast until brown. This should not take long, so keep your eye on them!
10. Quickly press the hot marshmallows onto one side of the cake. I say ‘quickly’ because the hotter and stickier are the better. They act as a sort of glue, adhering the two cake layers together.
11. Place the other cake layer on top of the marshmallows and gently press them together. You will want to make sure the edges are as aligned as possible. If there is a lot of overhang/unevenness, then use a sharp knife to slice the offending parts off.
12. Toast more marshmallows using the previous method. Have your extra graham crackers ready (broken into smaller rectangles). When marshmallows are toasted, tile the sides of the cake with graham crackers, using the marshmallows as cement. I found this part to be rather messy.
13. Melt chocolate bars (I did this on foil in the toaster oven, I broke them into pieces and got them warm enough so they were starting to get soft). Spread chocolate on the top of the cake.
I suppose you could also use chocolate icing, but I wanted to incorporate all the ingredients of an actual s’more, so I opted for melted chocolate bars instead.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT:
My bother loved everything about his cake, so in the end that is what mattered most to me. I will admit that I imagined it would look a bit more tidy and refined, but as the whole endeavor was very experimental, I am just happy it amounted to anything at all.
The texture of the cake was wonderful. It had a very delicate, light and fluffy texture. I wasn’t dense and extra-moist, but it wasn’t dry. It didn’t make it ultra sweet and cut slightly back on the sugar. I did this because I it is covered in chocolate and marshmallows and the extra sugar in the cake seemed unnecessary. I think this turned out to be a good decision.
My brother’s hand and his piece of cake:
So that is all for now folks,
until next time…
Madeline aka The Hopeful Hestia