Even before summer came, I dreamed about having friends over for s’mores. One recent summer night, I decided that it was absolutely necessary to make marshmallows, buy chocolate and cookies, and make a hot summer night even hotter with this: a S'mores cake. The best cake I’ve ever made.
Graham Cracker Crumbles (optional; see Variations below)
Make the s'mores cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
Generously butter two 8- or 9-inch (20- or 23-cm) round cake pans. Dust with flour and tap out any excess.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.
In another large bowl, stir together the butter, yogurt, water, molasses, vanilla, and eggs.
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir gently until no lumps remain. Be careful not to overmix. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake until the cakes are domed and a few moist crumbs cling to a tester inserted in the center of the cake, 30 to 35 minutes.
Make the syrup
While the cakes bake, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, water, and salt and bring to a boil.
Cook until the sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the vanilla and remove from the heat. Let cool. (If desired, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Reheat gently before using.)
Soak the cake with syrup
While the cakes are cooling in their pans, use a skewer or the tip of a paring knife to pierce them at 1-inch (2.5-cm) intervals.
Gently pour or generously brush the syrup over the surface of the hot cake layers. Move the cakes, still in their pans, to a wire rack to cool and dry completely, about 2 hours.
Run a knife around the sides of the cakes to loosen them. Carefully turn the cakes out of their pans and onto plates.
Make the bittersweet chocolate frosting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, and 2 cups confectioners’ sugar on low speed until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the remaining 2 cups sugar and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, 2 to 3 minutes.
In a slow, steady stream, drizzle in the melted chocolate and beat until the frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. (You can cover and stash the frosting in the fridge for up to 1 week. Before using, return it to room temperature and stir or beat before using.)
Make the marshmallow topping
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Scatter the marshmallows on the prepared baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 10 minutes.
Heat the broiler with the broiler rack set at least 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) from the element.
Broil the marshmallows, watching them carefully and shaking the pan occasionally, until evenly golden brown and charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: You’ll want to use a thin metal spatula to transfer the toasted marshmallows. If they stick to the baking sheet, pop everything in the freezer for a couple minutes.
Assemble the s'mores cake
Using a serrated knife, slice the domed top from one of the cake layers so it’s flat. Place the cake on a plate or platter.
Frost the top of the cake. If desired, sprinkle with graham cracker crumbles (about 3/4 cup).
Carefully stack the second layer of cake on top of the first and frost the top and sides of the entire cake.
Gently press graham cracker crumbles, if desired, onto the side of the cake so they’re evenly distributed.
Use a thin metal spatula to arrange the toasted marshmallows on the top of the cake.
How to make the Graham Cracker Crumbles
These graham cracker crumbles are completely optional. Well, until you taste them.2 sleeves graham crackers (about 18 sheets of crackers), finely crushed (about 2 cups/284 grams)1/4 cup malted milk powder (35 g)2 tablespoons granulated sugar (25 g)1/2 teaspoon kosher salt6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 oz | 85 g), meltedPreheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, malted milk powder, sugar, and salt and toss to thoroughly mix.Drizzle the melted butter over the crumb mixture and stir until clumps form.Scatter the clumps onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the crumbles are golden brown and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely before using. You’ll have extra for snacking. This is a very good thing.