This rich Decadent S’mores Layer Cake combines the nostalgia of marshmallow flavour with the indulgence of dark chocolate.
There are times when your average cupcake or cookie will do. And then there are times when you go big or go home.
It goes without saying that this is one of those ‘go big’ times.
The way I see it, what better way to debut this adventure into the world of affordable desserts with a decadent s’mores layer cake? On August 31, sometimes considered the last day of summer, the theme is fitting.
For some, it means the end of camping and summer camp with gooey, s’mores-coated fingers and sticky mouths. For others, it may mean winding down summer sports or lazy days at the beach. For me and my boyfriend, it meant cycling 56 kilometres on the beautiful country roads of rural Ottawa for a local event. (Guess who had an easier time of it, someone who didn’t train for it or a Canadian Forces soldier? I’ll give you one chance.) It also meant standing in line for food post-ride, exhausted, and having a Tour de France-looking man behind us comment cheerfully to his friend, “Today was supposed to be a 200 kilometre day like yesterday, but my tire popped at 160! Next time! Ha ha!”
*Cue deflating balloon sound*
Whatever your summer poison, enjoy it while we still have warm weather and sunshine. In the frigid bleakness of January—especially if you live in Ottawa like I do—you’ll be glad you did.
Back to the cake. This baby is the king of indulgence. The moist chocolate base pairs stunningly well with the bitter dark chocolate ganache, toasted marshmallows and sharp crumble of graham cracker. It’s one of those cakes that you make to show off to your friends / family / partner / potential love interest in the hopes that they’ll fall at your feet in worship. Trust me, with a slice of this s’mores layer cake and a cold glass of milk, they most certainly will.
While I recommend eating it fresh with rich ganache still dripping off the sides, it keeps in the fridge well. The cake absorbs most of the ganache and condenses the marshmallows to give it a taste similar to batter-flavoured ice cream cakes. But let’s be honest—how can you resist eating this right away?
Though there’s not a lick of frosting in sight here, this s’mores layer cake reminds me—in a good way, mind you—of one of my all-time favourite movies, Matilda. During the scene where Bruce Bogtrotter demolishes a monstrous chocolate cake like a badass, the kids cheer him on wildly. You are Bruce. I am your own personal cheer squad. Go on, take a bite.
Be forewarned, though: this is not a cake that you throw together in a few minutes. That being said, it’s definitely worth the trouble! Try it out and let me know in the comments what worked, how you made it your own, or how many thankful friends / family members / lovers you have now.
Total Cost = $9.78 (Budget breakdown below recipe)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- 1 and ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 and ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 large white eggs
- 1 cup non-dairy milk (or cow's milk)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup brewed coffee
- Half of a 454 gram pkg. of large marshmallows
- 8-10 sheets of graham crackers
- 1 and ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup 35% whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 345 degrees, then grease and sprinkle two 8-inch round cake pans with cocoa powder.
- In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt with a whisk until combined. Add in the eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Combine the coffee into the batter by hand. (Don't worry, it's supposed to be liquid-like!)
- Evenly pour batter into prepared cake pans and firmly tap on a hard surface to remove air bubbles. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until cake springs back when you touch the centre.
- When finished, let cool in pans for 30 minutes, then carefully remove cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes before the final assembling.
- When the cakes are in the oven, hand-crumble the graham crackers to your preferred size. Put aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place marshmallows evenly. Broil on your oven's middle rack for 30-60 seconds until light brown. Flip and broil for 30 seconds or until toasty. When cool, cut three-quarters of the marshmallows in half.
- Bring whipping cream to a simmer over low-medium heat and remove at the first sign of bubbling. Pour over chocolate chips in a pot with a lid, making sure all chips are coated. Place lid on pot and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- Remove lid and whisk for 1-2 minutes until all chips are melted and both ingredients are combined well. Leave uncovered for 20 minutes or until cool.
- Using a serrated knife, carefully cut each cooled cake round in half horizontally. Place one round on a cake stand or platter, then pour ¼ of the ganache on the centre, spreading and leaving half an inch unglazed around the edge of the cake. Crumble graham crackers on the ganache, then top with halved marshmallows. Repeat this process until you've placed the last layer on.
- Once the last layer is placed, pour a hearty amount of ganache on top, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake. Crumble the remaining graham crackers and top with whole toasted marshmallows.
- Serve immediately with a sharp serrated knife. Because this cake is similar to me after one drink, it tends to get tipsy (due to the lack of frosting to keep it together), so cut into slices and wrap individually in tin foil for fridge/freezer storage.
* For the 35% whipping cream, I used Natrel Lactose-Free Whipping Cream but lactose-added cream works just as well.
Recipe adapted from All Recipes, Natasha’s Kitchen and Queen Brand Foods.
2 cups granulated sugar = $0.36
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour = $0.35
3/4 cup cocoa powder = $1.58
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda = $0.01
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder = $0.07
1 tsp. salt = $0.01
2 large white eggs = $0.30
1 cup non-dairy milk = $0.38
1/2 cup vegetable oil = $0.17
2 tsp. vanilla extract = $0.30
1 cup brewed coffee = $0.35
Half of a 454 gram pkg. of large marshmallows = $1.00
8 – 10 sheets of graham crackers = $1.00
1 and 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips = $2.40
1 cup 35% whipping cream = $1.50