light my fire – inside-out s’mores cake

by hungryrabbit on September 14, 2012

Inside-Out S'mores Cake

Fall is absolutely my favorite season. I love the chilly fresh air in the morning as the day begins and cool breezes at night for sleeping. I welcome the sight of falling leaves and squirrels hopping about to gather nuts for the winter. Fall may announce the end of the growing season, but it also reawakens my senses. I breathe a little slower and ease up on the fast stream of city life–at least for a while.

Perhaps because I never lived in a home with fireplace when I was a child, I now love a warming fire every chance I get. Regardless of the electronic trinkets that may rule our lives, there’s something compelling and comforting about burning logs and smell of hardwood embers.

Well, it’s not quite cold enough, yet. As I get ready for some cozy fireside time, I’m thinking about roasting marshmallows to make s’mores. As a kid growing up in Hong Kong, I experienced nature only in spurts. Luckily, my middle school in Hong Kong sat on a semi-wooded hill, so I did have the opportunity to enjoy one campfire BBQ with my schoolmates.

Now, I’m making up for missed treats.

Yes, the weather has turned and those cool nights have recently arrived, but making a fire seems too zealous even for me–and especially for M who doesn’t want to light kindling until there’s frost on the windows.

To get in the mood, I came up with this Inside-Out S’mores Cake to tide us over. In this version, layers of graham crackers cake alternate with a rich dark chocolate ganache. I smear marshmallow frosting all over the exterior to scorch brown. For a bit of whimsy, I decorate the cake with mini-marshmallows, so the center resembles a fire pit.

In a way, this cake is less messy than a true S’mores and certainly allows for generous servings. On the other hand, perhaps the warm, gooey stickiness is the major draw of this American tradition.

Inside-Out S’mores Cake

recipe adapted from Cook’s Country
yield: one 8-inch cake

Graham Cake

Ingredients

17 whole graham crackers, (about 9-1/2 ounces) broken into rough pieces
1/4 cup (1-1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
Chocolate Ganache, recipe to follow
Marshmallow Frosting, recipe to follow
Mini marshmallows, homemade or store bought, for decoration, about 3-4 cups

Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 ℉. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans set aside

2. Grind graham crackers, flour, baking powder, and salt in food processor to fine crumbs. Whisk milk and vanilla in measuring cup.

3. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine sugar, and butter, beat on medium-high speed, until light fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, until combined. Reduce speed to low and add graham cracker mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of milk mixture, until incorporated.

4. Using clean bowl and beaters, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Whisk one-third of whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites until combined with no white streaks. Divide batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 ounces heavy cream
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Combine corn syrup, espresso powder, salt and heavy cream in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer on medium-low heat; add chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature, 45 minutes. (For faster cooling, pour ganache into a medium bowl.)

Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients

8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3-4 minutes.

2. Remove bowl from heat, wipe dry and attached to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute and gradually increasing to high. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5-7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.

Assembly

1. Line an 8-inch cake pan with plastic wrap with ample overhang, about 6 inches. Cut each cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on the bottom of prepared cake pan, spread approximately 1/3 ganache over cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with ganache and cake layers until top with the 4th cake layer. Wrap cake with overlap plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Remove cake from refrigerator, unwrap cake and place it on a serving platter or cake stand. Spread or pipe frosting  on top and side of cake. Decorate with mini marshmallows. Using a kitchen torch, toast frosting and marshmallows to desire doneness.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Mallory September 14, 2012 at 7:43 am

Oh my goodness…this looks amazing. I need that toasted marshmallow frosting in my life…

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar September 14, 2012 at 7:44 am

Whoa. I wish it was my birthday so bad….and that I knew you. *sigh*

Jenni September 14, 2012 at 7:55 am

This is great, Ken! And I guess if people want messy, they can always pick their piece up in their fist! ;) For more goo, perhaps reserve the meringue, plate the naked cake and then smear on some meringue and torch right before serving. Although I think your presentation is really elegant just the way it is.

PS Fall is my favorite, too! Love having the windows open after the scorching summer:)

Brian @ A Thought For Food September 14, 2012 at 8:01 am

Ken… stop it. I’m not even a big cake person, but you have pulled out all my favorite flavors here! Can’t wait to see you this weekend!

kelly @ kellybakes September 14, 2012 at 8:13 am

What Brian & Mallory said. Seriously. I love s’mores, but I’m a bit of a purist. I worked at a donut shop that sold fancy donuts and I wouldn’t try the s’mores donut for fear it would ruin my love of s’mores. This cake is an entirely different story. I want to run to my kitchen, grab my blow torch and make this bad boy.

Meeta September 14, 2012 at 8:44 am

This is probably how it feels when one has died and gone to heaven!! Incredible flavors!

Liren September 14, 2012 at 9:20 am

Ken, I do believe you are a genius.

Wendy Read September 14, 2012 at 9:56 am

Just gorgeous Ken! Love the photos and OMG, I want to make this right away….have to wait for October to feel a breeze here though :)

Colette @ JFF! September 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Drrrrrama! Love burnt marshmallows.

Mark September 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I nearly passed out when I saw this!! Look awesome!

Jenn September 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

What a fun looking cake!!

Barbara | Creative Culinary September 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

This is gorgeous Ken. I truly love S’mores; sure the combination of flavors works but for me, it takes me back to Girl Scout Camp and all the pleasures of childhood. You have done one thing I think an absolute requirement to call a dessert S’mores…something is burned! When I see a dessert labeled as such that might include some marshmallow cream I can’t help but thing…oh no you didn’t!!

Gorgeous…or did I say that already?!!

marla September 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Such a creative and AMAZING looking cake!

Beth {local milk} September 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Good god, could someone please have a birthday so that I can make this?! I am s’mores obsessed & homemade marshmallow obsessed. I would pile those suckers on! Beautiful.

Dena September 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Wow. Who knew s’mores could get so much better! Lovely cake.

Julia September 15, 2012 at 11:53 pm

This is so beautiful – saw this picture on FoodGawker and wanted to see how you did it.

Stella September 16, 2012 at 12:55 am

there’s nothing about this cake i don’t like, omg. the marshmallows look so good and the layers <3

ina September 17, 2012 at 1:42 am

wow! a friend told me about this cake and suggested I make it – I’m not sure I can resist it looks and sounds absolutely spectacular!!

Val September 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Gorgeous cake… and it was YUMMY!!! Thank you for sharing!

Amy @ fragrantvanillacake September 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm

ken, this cake is gorgeous! This is way better than any smore dessert I have seen, I am sure it tastes amazing, and I love the brulee affect on the top! This belongs on the cover of a magazine.

Jamie September 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Wow! Just wow! I grew up in Florida, baby, and never saw a fire except the occasional Girl Scout campout (the ONLY thing I enjoyed about those were the S’Mores, truth be told) and the occasional high school bonfire. And I love a good roaring blaze. But how I love toasted marshmallows and S’Mores. This cake is brilliant and stunning and I want.

jas September 28, 2012 at 7:47 am

Wow, this looks seriously amazing. I’ve only ever heard wonderful things about smores, tried my own version using Aussie substitutes but was promptly told it wasn’t the same (yet, unsurprisingly the mix of toasted marshmallows, chocolate and cookies was still delicious ;)) I suppose I’ll just have to make this to get more into the spirit!

Averie @ Averie Cooks October 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

This is just a work of art, Ken! Wow..the layers, the toasted marshmallow on top, I want to dive in! I love smores! Pinned!

Tamar October 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm

YUM!!! Save a piece for me. I will need it after the cabin fever that awaits me… The lemon pie was the perfect treat to end a hectic week.

ambrosia December 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

oh holy goodness. this looks amazing!!!! I must make this sometime soon!!!!!!

Dylan February 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm

This looks great! Want to make it for a birthday I have to go to this weekend. How far in advance do you think I can make it and how do you suggest storing it? Air tight container outside of the fridge? In the fridge? Thanks!!

hungryrabbit February 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Hi Dylan, You can assemble the cake a day, even two, in advance and store at room temperature in an airtight container. I would hold off on the Marshmallow Frosting until the day of the party. It would be great if you can torch the frosting at the party for a last minute dramatic effect. The smell will definitely get everyone’s attention, not to mention the crispness. Have fun and let me know if you have additional questions. – Ken

Jill February 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

If I wanted to use graham cracker crumbs (from the box) how much should I use? I really want to make your cake!

hungryrabbit February 3, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Hi Jill, the recipe calls for graham cracker (from the box) to be pulverized into crumbs. Just follow the instructions. Let me know if you have questions with the recipe. -Ken

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