For our 4th anniversary, I wanted to bake something that I knew my wife could get behind. I’ve seen loads of recipes for s’mores everything you can imagine. I wanted to bake a s’mores cake, but I wanted the cake to be like an actual s’more… chocolate and marshmallow inside graham cracker layers.
I had a bunch of recipes in mind for each part of my imagined s’mores cake. I wanted a marshmallow cheesecake and chocolate filling sandwiched between two graham cracker cake layers and covered with graham cracker frosting.
Only three of the four elements of this cake were successful. The cake and frosting both tasted like graham crackers with a nice cinnamon flavor. The chocolate filling is very good, and I will use it in the future for different cakes (the recipe is from a black-and-white cake that I look forward to baking). The combination of the graham cracker cake/frosting and chocolate filling is the best part of the cake and really left me wanting more (I resisted).
The marshmallow cheesecake was the disappointment, mostly because the gelatin made it, well, too gelatinous. Originally, I wanted a cheesecake in the middle to have a layer similar to a marshmallow and sturdy enough to support the chocolate filling. I decided to go the no-bake route so that it would make one of the steps of this cake easier, but I didn’t like it (and neither did my wife, who ended up eating around it). For future versions of this cake, I’ll either find an actual (or different) marshmallow cheesecake recipe (maybe one that uses mascarpone since I might be able to impart more marshmallow flavor) or I will bake the same recipe in two 8″ pans to cut 4 layers (with 2 chocolate filling and 1 marshmallow filling, kind of like that black-and-white cake).
I decided to decorate the cake with 8 mini-s’mores. I thought it was a unique and easy way to make the cake more appetizing and let people identify the s’mores theme. Each mini-s’more is a quarter sheet graham cracker square broken in half with half of a snack-sized Hershey’s chocolate bar and a broiled mini-marshmallow.
Graham Cracker Cake:
3/4 cup (96 g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cup (223 g) graham cracker crumbs (about 30 squares)
3 3/4 tsp. baking powder
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/8 cup (225 g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/8 cup whole milk, room temperature
Toasted Marshmallow Cheesecake:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1 cup boiling water
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 oz. marshmallow fluff
4 oz. mini marshmallows, toasted/broiled
1 vanilla bean, cut, seeds removed, and pod discarded
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into five pieces
Graham Cracker Frosting:
2 cups (198 g) graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar, tightly-packed
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 graham crackers, quartered then halved
4 snack-sized Hershey’s bars
8 mini marshmallows, toasted/broiled
- NOTE: The cheesecake and chocolate cream need a few hours to chill, so consider preparing these the night before or 1-2 days in advance.
- For the cheesecake: Mix sugar and gelatin in a small bowl.
- Add boiling water and let sit for five minutes.
- In a food processor, beat cream cheese and vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract until creamy.
- Add marshmallow fluff and toasted marshmallows, then beat until fully incorporated.
- Gradually add gelatin mixture.
- Transfer mixture to a bowl. Let chill in refrigerator for 45 minutes.
- Remove from refrigerator and mix vigorously.
- Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Pour into prepared pan and smooth evenly with a spatula. Return to refrigerator to firm completely for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
- Run a sharp knife around the edge of the springform pan before releasing, but keep the bottom of the pan on for assembly.
- For the cake: While the cheesecake chills, make the cakes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, line with parchment/wax paper, then butter and flour the parchment/wax paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy.
- Add eggs, beating between each addition, then mix in vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mixture (three additions) and milk (two additions), beating until just incorporated with each addition.
- Divide the batter between the two cake pans (mine were ~570 g each). Bake for 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans until cool to the touch, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to remove parchment paper and to cool.
- For the cream: In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat.
- While the milk heats up, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until well blended.
- Add 1/4 cup of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Continue to whisk while slowly adding the remainder of the milk.
- Return mixture to saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly and thoroughly, bringing the mixture to a boil and holding the boil for 1-2 minutes (mixture will thicken a lot).
- Remove pan from heat, whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the butter until fully incorporated and the cream is smooth.
- Pour mixture into a small bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal, then refrigerate until chilled (for up to 3 days).
- Prior to assembly, give the cream a vigorous whisk to loosen it up and smooth it.
- For the frosting: In a blender, combine graham cracker crumbs, milk, and salt. Blend on medium-high speed for 1-3 minutes until mixture is smooth (like a nut butter).
- In a stand mixer, add butter, dark brown sugar, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. Beat on medium-high speed for three minutes until fluffy, then scrape down the sides.
- On low speed, gradually add the graham cracker mixture one tablespoon at a time. Once added, increase speed to medium-high and beat for three minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
- For assembly: Place one cake layer on a cake round. Spread 1-1.5 cups of the chocolate filling on top.
- Carefully invert this cake layer on top of the cheesecake, then trim any of the cheesecake that hangs over the side of the cake.
- Invert the cake once more onto the cake round, then remove the bottom of the springform pan and parchment paper from the cheesecake.
- Spread 1-1.5 cups of the chocolate filling on top of the remaining cake layer, then carefully invert it onto the cheesecake.
- Frost the outside of the cake as desired.