S’mores Cake

It’s summer time and in the summer time we eat s’mores. This is non-negotiable.

IF by some odd chance you think you don’t like s’mores, you’re dead wrong. More than dead wrong. You’re lost. You’re confused. You don’t actually believe that you deserve nice things.

Let me enlighten you. Let me bring you back into the light. Trust, I’m only here to help. You do deserve nice things in life and one of the greatest is a s’more, or (come to think of it), anything that is s’mores flavored.

If you’ve been following along with the blog for a bit then you know by now that I’m…fond of s’mores flavored desserts. So far I’ve hit you guys with popcorn, sandwich cookies and brownies–ALL of which, you should try because they’re friggin delicious.

Today I’m back with a new addition to the collection that I’m pretty proud of: a s’mores flavored layer cake.

The first thing that I want to point out about this recipe is rather obvious: this isn’t a conventional round layer cake. Most layer cake recipes call for you to have at least 2, and at times up to 4 or 6 different pans to bake the batter in, and even though I bake often I have 3 cake pans and never really feel like using them much. You have to measure out and weigh the batter in each pan to make sure there’s an even amount in each and sometimes I just can’t be be bothered. All of this cake’s batter bakes in one single loaf pan–the kind that MOST people already have in their cabinets. Rather than divvy up the batter between multiple pans, it’s baked into one cake that’s then split into three rectangular layers later on.

I’ve seen recipes for other s’mores cakes before and interestingly enough, the cake is often chocolate flavored. I…don’t understand this. The base of the s’more are graham crackers that house the marshmallow and chocolate inside. You’ve just got to have that graham cracker flavor to balance the other two. In this recipe, the cake batter is given a warm, nutty, caramel-y flavor with brown sugar and the essential graham base flavor by the addition of finely crushed graham cracker crumbs.

If that doesn’t sound yummy enough all on it’s own, after you split the layers of the cake and start to assemble it is where things get REALLY tasty. We’re not just putting melted marshmallows into the buttercream; to give it that special ‘campfire’ flavor, the marshmallows are first toasted underneath the broiler until they are JUST the right color and brownish hue (much like you’d get holding them over a flame on a stick), then mixed into a smooth buttercream. This buttercream gets spread in between and on top of all the cake layers along with…what else? Smooth, rich semi sweet chocolate. Once you’ve assembled the cake, it get completely covered with the toasted marshmallow buttercream then broken graham cracker shards and mini marshmallows are pressed into the gooey deliciousness and the whole thing gets drizzled with even more melted chocolate.

Guys, I am so proud of this thing. You don’t even know. It is soooo good. There’s not one single thing I would change and I’m excited to share what is trully a perfect summer dessert. Please try it. I’m sharing this cake at Fiesta Friday #182, co-hosted this week by Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons and Jenny @ Jenny Is Baking.

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S'mores Cake

Recipe Adapted from Food & Wine and The Cookies & Cups Cookbook

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs, from half a sleeve
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For Marshmallow Buttercream

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened)
  • 8 ounces mini marshmallows
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

For Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

For decorating: extra graham crackers, broken into pieces and partially crushed, optional

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the cake flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a hand held one, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.

In a small bowl combine the milk, heavy cream, whole milk, eggs and vanilla extract with a fork, whisking until egg yolks are broken and thoroughly combined.

Alternatively add the dry ingredients and egg mixture to the creamed butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Make sure you use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you add the ingredients to ensure even mixing.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 50-55 minutes in the oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Pound cakes are done at about an internal temp of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit if you have an instant thermometer.) Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.  Place the cake in the fridge for about one hour, or the freezer for 20 minutes to let it firm up.

For Marshmallow Buttercream: Preheat the broiler. In the bowl of a standing mixer cream the butter together with the powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray it lightly with cooking spray. Spread the marshmallows out in a single layer, keeping them close together. Place underneath the broiler and let them get lightly browned; DON’T WALK AWAY. This takes no more than 30-40 seconds. Using a rubber spatula you spray with cooking spray immediately scrape the toasted marshmallow into the creamed butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until combined. If it seems too stiff, you may add the heavy cream to your desired consistency.

Gently heat the heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl (about 45 seconds should do it). Pour it directly over the chocolate in another bowl and gently stir until it completely melts. If it’s too stiff you can add more warm heavy cream.

Take the cake out of the fridge/freezer. Cut it into three layers (it’s okay if they’re not perfectly even. Mine weren’t either.) Level the tops of each cake. Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Smear a little of the chocolate or buttercream in the center to keep the cake from moving around. Place one cake layer on the platter. Spread or pipe a border of the marshmallow buttercream around the edges, bringing them up almost like a fence. Fill in the center with more buttercream, then dollop the chocolate ganache on top, trying to keep it inside the buttercream ‘fence’. Add the second layer and repeat then place the third cake layer on top. Spread the top of the cake with the remaining buttercream. Using a spatula to smooth out the sides of the cake, dipping it in some warm water intermittently.

Press the broken graham crackers and crumbs onto the sides of the cake (They don’t have to cover it completely). Sprinkle more of the crumbs on the top, then use a fork to drizzle the rest of the chocolate ganache on the top.) Place the cake in the fridge to let the buttercream and chocolate to firm up a bit, 15-20 minutes before serving.

Fluffy Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

Yellow Layer Cake1

Is it too late to wish all you guys a Happy New Year? No?

Ok then, well… Happy New Year!

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but the 12 Days of Christmas series always does sap a lot of energy out of me, and this year I was also doing it while we were in the process of moving to a new place. By the time I put up my most recent post on Christmas Eve, I was pretty exhausted and in much need of a break. So I took one.

I hope your year’s been off to a promising start. Mine certainly has.

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Apart from the fact that the new (and sadly, the last) season of Downton Abbey always comes to America the first week in the new year, the beginning of January also marks the birthdays of several people in my family that are clustered together. This includes one particularly important person to me that I’d like to share a few words about in brief snapshots of my memory.

(This is going to get sentimental. Very sentimental. You’ve been warned.)

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To the woman who let me and my sisters crowd around her on a bed while she read aloud from “Great Expectations” as our ‘bedtime’ story and made me discover my great and all-consuming love of books and subsequently, writing.

To the woman who would wake us up for school with a chipper rendition of “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bobbin Along” until we all laughed and forgot how sleepy we were.

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To the woman who would pile us all into the backseat of our car and drive to chase sunsets (back in the days when gas was cheap as dirt, of course).

To the woman who when I cried and was sad, was always willing to rock and hold me and sing “You Are My Sunshine” until I felt better.

To the woman/wonderful cook who was nothing but completely encouraging and supportive when I made the hefty decision to start learning to cook for myself.

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AND, to the woman who shares my opinion that yellow cake with chocolatey fudge frosting is the BEST type of cake there is.

It was your *bleep*th birthday: so I made you one.

And we both of us thought it tasted pretty awesome.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

Yellow Layer Cake4

Yellow cake is usually something that people don’t get unless it comes out of a box of cake mix. I’m not gonna knock yellow cake mix too hard; so long as you’re eating it in the first two days after it was made, then it’s actually pretty tasty.

But after making this recipe twice, I really must insist…there’s still NO substitute for yellow cake and chocolate frosting made from scratch. There just isn’t.

Even after running into a momentary setback with the new oven temperature in our new place, this cake recipe proved very forgiving and STILL came out great. The buttery richness that we all love to see in yellow cake really comes through with the 6 egg yolks, while the whites made it plenty moist and fluffy. And the milky, chocolate fudgey frosting…wow. I had to resist the urge to just eat it clear off of a spoon. The folks at ATK prove time and time again that they know what they’re doing.

I’ll be sharing my mom’s birthday cake with you wonderful people at the Fiesta Friday #102 party, co-hosted this week by Elaine @ foodbod and Julie @ Hostess at Heart– both GREAT ladies, with great blogs.

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Fluffy Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting


Recipe Courtesy of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015

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Ingredients

For Cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour, plus extra for the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 10 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Frosting

  • 20 tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • Pinch table salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Directions

For the Cake:

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9-inch wide by 2-inch high round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, 1 1/2 cups of the granulated sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla and egg yolks.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 30 to 60 seconds (the whites should hold a peak but the mixture should still appear moist). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the flour mixture to the now empty mixing bowl. With the mixer till fitted with the whisk attachment and running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, stir one third of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing tops with a rubber spatula. Lightly tap the pans against the countertop two or three times to settle the batter. Bake until the cake layers begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and cool before frosting, about 2 hours.

For the Frosting:

Using a standing or hand held mixer, cream the butter, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa and salt together until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and mix until just combined, about 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the chocolate and mix together until smooth and creamy, about 10-15-seconds.

Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one (evenly leveled) cake layer on the platter. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the frosting evenly across the top of the cake with a spatula. Place the second cake layer on top, then spread with the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the parchment strips from the platter before serving.

Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Chocolate Donuts4

I’m annoyed guys. Know why? I’ve been having tech issues.

My computer’s been on the fritz.

About 2 and a half weeks ago I got this email from Microsoft offering me a free upgrade to Windows 10. I hate Windows 8 (I don’t know what the developers were thinking with that abstract ‘home screen’ that pops up whenever you push the start button), so I agreed to take the scheduled upgrade and told them to email me when it was ready.

Chocolate Donuts2

The appointed day came around. I let my laptop stay open that night, and went to bed. The next morning, I looked through the new interface and was pretty satisfied with what I saw. No more stupid, ugly home screen on Windows 10.

But there was a problem. Two actually.

Now, my computer won’t go to sleep. When I shut the screen down, it does go dark, but the keyboard stays lit and the actual machine keeps running as if it’s still awake. Then when I open the screen, it won’t turn back on. If I want the screen to work, I have to shut the computer off completely, then turn it back on.

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Which brings me to the next issue: now, the ‘Shut Down’ command in my start menu won’t shut down the computer. If I want to turn off my laptop, I have to press down on the power button and manually shut it off. Which, of course, isn’t good.

I’m currently paying for a subscription/protection plan with Geek Squad so, when I first noticed the issue, I scheduled an appointment at my local Best Buy and took the laptop in and left it with them to fix. The next afternoon, they called and told me that the problem was fixed.

Something about a BIOS update that my laptop needed- whatever that means.

I am by absolutely no means, tech savvy. So, I took their word for it, thinking to myself, “Hey, they’re the ‘ex-perts’ here. They know what they’re doing.”

Apparently, this was a mistake.

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Because less than a week after I picked the laptop back up from Geek Squad, lo and behold, it’s back to having the exact same problem.

There could be any number of reasons for this, I suppose. Maybe there’s another BIOS update that my laptop needs (though I still have NO idea what BIOS updates are). Maybe Geek Squad didn’t really fix the problem in the first place. Maybe it’s a new issue.

Or maybe Windows 10, like it’s predecessor, also sucks.

Regardless, I now have to schedule another appointment with the tech guys at GS and hope that they get it right this time. I’m pretty pissed off about it. But rather than focus on that, I’d prefer to focus on something else. Something much more pleasant than malfunctioning electronics and the paid experts who don’t do it right the first time.

Chocolate Donuts5

Like donuts. Glazed chocolate donuts.

There’s something about a thick, soft glazed chocolate donut that can just hit the spot and make everything all better.

There’s a place called Quality Dairy in my area that bakes wonderful chocolate donuts. The only ones I’ve ever been able to eat to be honest, as typically I prefer plain glazed, or apple cider. I’ve wanted to make ones on my own for a while. King Arthur Flour’s recipe for chocolate donuts looked very doable, I just had to make a few adjustments.

First, like every other chocolate baked good that I make, I added a tablespoon of powdered instant coffee to the batter. Interestingly enough, the coffee flavor doesn’t come through- but it does give a REALLY big boost to the chocolate flavor of just about anything. So stick that in your bag of tricks. Second, I had to coat mine in a powdered sugar glaze- only way to go.

The result, as you can see, is marvelous.

I’ll be taking my donuts with me to the Fiesta Friday #82 party, co-hosted this week by Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Sarah @ Sarah’s Little Kitchen, where hopefully I can continue to commiserate about my tech woes with all of you sympathetic people. After all, we’re all bloggers here- we all understand how annoying tech problems can be, right?

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Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick, 2 oz.) butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/2 oz.) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 oz.) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 1/2 oz.) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (about 2 lbs.) vegetable oil or shortening (2 1/2 lbs.), for frying

Glaze

  • 3 1/2 cup (350 grams ) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) hot water

Directions

In a small, heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Cover with plastic wrap and melt over simmering water or at medium power in the microwave. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter/chocolate mixture with the eggs and sugar and mix until light. In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, cocoa and instant coffee powder. Add to egg mixture and stir to moisten. Add buttermilk and vanilla, mixing just enough to bring dough together. Gather dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.

To make doughnuts, heat oil or shortening to 350F in a Dutch oven that will hold at least 1 1/2 inches of oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll out chilled dough to a 1/2-inch thick circle. Cut into doughnut shapes with a doughnut cutter, or with 2 biscuit cutters-a large for the outside, a small for the hole. Fry the doughnuts 2 or 3 at a time; cook for 90 seconds on 1 side, turn, and cook for 90 seconds on other. Remove donuts from oil with slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels.

To make glaze, mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Dip each donut into the glaze, making sure they are covered completely. Place on a wire rack above a sheet pan to catch any excess glaze. Let sit for 20 minutes until glaze is set.