Jeff loves anythng S'mores, so when I came across this recipe in The Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I knew he'd be smitten! In fact all of us were. This one is is a keeper. Follow the directions, and although it looks a bit daunting, I guarantee you that it will be well worth the effort!
Cake layers: 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (about 2 sticks), softened plus more for pans 2 cups all purpose flour 2 cups honey graham-cracker crumbs, finely processed to a powder (from approximately fourteen 2 ½ inch-by-4 7/8-inch sheets) 2 teaspoons baking powder ¾ teaspoons baking soda ¾ teaspoons table salt ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1 cup dark brown sugar 4 large eggs, at room temperature 2 cups buttermilk, well shaken (or 1 1/3 cups milk and 2/3 cup sour cream)
Filling: 1 bag milk chocolate chips ¾ cup heavy cream 2 pinches of salt
Frosting: 4 large egg whites 1 cup granulated sugar ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350. Butter two 9-inch-round cake pans, and line them with circles of parchment paper, then coat with a non-stick 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 a third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, a third of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk and then the remaining dry ingredients. Mix between additions until combined.
Divide batter between cake pans, smoothing tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack, then run a knife between the cake edges and pan before inverting each layer onto a rack. Let cool completely, a process you can speed up in the fridge, which I did.
Make Filling: Place the chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl. Combine the heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Remove from stove, and pour over the chocolate. Let this mixture sit for one minute, then whisk it until it is smooth. Set the bowl over another larger bowl filled with ice water. Stir it until it firms up to spreadable consistency. Note: Remove the bowl from the ice water when stirring.
Prepare cake: Arrange a single layer on a serving platter or cake stand. For a neat looking cake, use a long serrated knife to level the top gently, taking off only the domed part (which shouldn’t be much). Spread the chocolate thickly over the bottom layer. Place the top layer over the bottom layer. Once again, for a neater appearance, you can level the top of the cake in the same manner.
Make Frosting: Place the egg-whites, granulated sugar, cream of tartar in a heatproof glass bowl, set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Transfer the bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat, starting at low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 4-7 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined. You’ll want to use this immediately.
Frost Cake: Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides covering all the crumbs and binding them to the cake. Transfer the cake to the fridge for 5-10 minutes to let it set a bit, then generously coat the top and sides with additional frosting. Put the remaining frosting in a piping bag, or disposable baggie with the corner snipped off fitted with your largest round piping tip. Create big marshmallow like dollops over the top of the cake. With a kitchen torch on a low setting, lightly brown the dollops creating a toasted-marshmallow effect (and—as you’ll quickly discover—aroma).
These are the essential tools I used for decorating the cake.