Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Preciousssssss1 makes s'mores cake.

It's been almost two years since I've written anything here. I live in D.C. now, working for State. But more relevantly, since Christmas I'm also the proud owner of a gorgeous KitchenAid stand mixer and an already gross-looking pizza stone, and I'm in love. They've abetted some delicious experiments and inspired me to post about them. (It'll probably take me a few posts to catch up on three months' baking, but tonight's a start.)

My office has a rotating schedule for monthly birthday cake duty -- as well as a schedule for who provides snack for our weekly staff meetings; more on that some other time -- and I was up for February. We also have a Cake Affairs Manual ("CAM") that contains, inter alia,2 the following definitions:
  1. Cake. A cake is a baked confection made of sugar, flour and chocolate. (Cakes not containing all of these items are referred to herein as "other".)
  2. Other. Cakes not containing at least one ounce of chocolate.
CAM provisions in mind, I attempted s'mores cake.

First up, graham cracker cake. It turns out this is a thing, which appears to be made by Southern grandmothers and great aunts, if the Google results are any indication. But a month after my attempt, Google is failing me -- I can't find the recipe I actually used. I'll edit this post if I find another one that I like. What I remember about the recipe: called for about three cups of graham crumbs in lieu of flour, but required more than the recommended number of crackers to achieve that; I didn't add the shredded coconut; involved separated eggs; and if it called for shortening (many seem to), I only used butter. Behold:
The silicone baking pan was also a Christmas gift, and silicone bakeware IS AWESOME. Unfortunately, I only have one round pan -- this one is slightly on the large size, 9 or 10 inches3 -- so I had to bake the two layers in succession.

Next up, the chocolate. I adapted the smitten kitchen's fudge frosting recipe, halving the recipe
because I didn't plan to cover the entire cake. I didn't have any unsweetened chocolate, so I used semi-sweet, and I made it in the KitchenAid because I don't have a full-sized food processors. I creamed the butter and sugar before adding the chocolate, milk, and vanilla. The resulting (delicious) frosting was unfortunately too richly overpowering in the assembled cake. Next time I'll try a thinner, more chocolatey (less buttercreamy) layer -- maybe a milk chocolate ganache?

After frosting (tops only) and assembling the two layers, the entire cake got slathered in Food & Wine's marshmallow frosting. And I mean slathered -- I made 1.5 times the recipe (Marshmallows are the key part of the s'more, after all, no matter what Paul might
incorrectly assert.) This frosting is fantastic, but it dries out after a day or two -- think slightly crunchy on day 2, entirely crunchy by day 3 -- so I made the cake/chocolate frosting the night before, and made the marshmallow frosting day of. (I suspect that this recipe could be used for
some sort of no-bake meringues.) With a stand mixer, it's also very quick and easy to make: whip some egg whites, make sugar syrup, whip until it looks so marshmallowy that you want to eat it with a spoon.

Once the entire cake is covered with the finished frosting, it's time for the best part: the torch. It's not a s'more without browning the marshmallow, and playing with fire -- safely, of course -- never gets old.

Et voila, S'mores Cake:
The cake got rave reviews, and it didn't last long enough for the frosting to get stale. Fair warning, it might drive you into sugar shock with one slice.

1I'm told calling my KitchenAid this is weird/creepy. I don't care.
2Shut up. It's a useful phrase.
3Insert "that's what she said" joke here. I swear it was unintentional; I only noticed it after I'd written it.
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