Brad and I went on a fantastic but somewhat grueling (for me) 50-mile bike ride today with some friends, on the heels of my 16 mile run yesterday. Afterward we had a late lunch of burgers and fries at one of our favorite local joints, Park Burger. When dinnertime rolled around neither of us were very hungry so we decided to skip dinner and just have dessert. We're allowed to do that, right? Isn't that one of the perks of being a supposed grown-up? Maybe after dessert-dinner I'll run through the house with scissors.
Last summer we spent a lot of time hanging out at our backyard fire pit making s'mores. I've been thinking about making a s'mores cake based on a cupcake recipe in Martha Stewart's cookbook, Cupcakes. Being me, I followed the cupcake recipe as written. Brad's influence on my kitchen style shone through in me baking it up as a layer cake and swapping out the chocolate ganache glaze for a more traditional, thicker chocolate ganache.
S'mores Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Marshmallow Frosting Filling
adapted from Martha Stewart, Cupcakes
Hmmm . . . what to pair with complete, utter exhaustion and disregard for a proper dinner? In honor of the first truly nice, sunny day we've had here in a while, Brad and I decided to have some 2010 Pink from Frog's Leap in Rutherford, California. The winemaker describes it as a blend of ancient vine Valdigue and equally old Zinfandel that produces a “sunny-day” wine with bright aromas of peach blossom, strawberry and jasmine. I have to agree; perfect for our sunny day.
Don't be afraid every once in a while to skip dinner in favor of eating only cake. Tell your mom I said it's alright.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups graham flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 8x8 inch square baking pans with Pam with flour or similar baking spray. (I prefer not to butter and flour the pans when the outside of the cake will not be coated with frosting.)
Whisk or stir together in a medium bowl both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter, brown sugar, and honey until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Scrape down bowl frequently to ensure the eggs are evenly incorporated. Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. If you overmix, the cake may be tough.
Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake until done (golden brown and cake tester comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached), about 30 minutes. Place pans on wire racks to cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
1/2 pound good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Ghirardelli chocolate chips save the chopping)
1 cups heavy cream
3 Tablespoons half and half
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup to a simmer over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate and let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
Beginning near the center and, working outward, stir melted chocolate into cream mixture until combined and smooth. Do not overstir. Chocolate does not like to be worked too much. If overworked, it will become grainy and you will need to start over; chocolate waste is a tragedy.
Refigerate the chocolate, stirring every 5 minutes, until it just barely begins to hold its shape and is slightly lighter in color. Use immediately.
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
In a mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Heat remaining 1/4 cup water and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan. Boil syrup until temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees F), brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. (Note, if sugar crystals form they can burn and affect the flavor of the frosting.)
Remove from heat. Add syrup to softened gelatin. Use an electric mixer on low to whisk the mixture until cool, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until soft, glossy (but not dry) peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Use immediately or pour into a waxed paper-lined 8 x 8 pan until ready to use (frosting will harden).
Place one cake layer on serving plate. Spread thick layer of chocolate ganache over top, letting some drip down sides to simulate an oozy s'more. Place layer of marshmallow frosting atop the chocolate. Using a kitchen torch, brown top and sides of marshmallow. Put other cake layer on top. You can either serve the cake like this, which would most resemble a traditional s'more, or you can put another layer of chocolate ganache on top.