S’mores Layer Cake
A summer favorite turned into a drool-worthy dessert fit for a party, no campfire required! This s’mores layer cake has a graham base, fudge frosting and a homemade marshmallow meringue frosting.
This three layer s’mores cake was a labor of love. I’ve been wanting to make it for over a year now, but with moving, a new baby and everything else life has thrown at me, I kept pushing it to the very bottom of my to-do list. A month or so ago when my mom came to visit I decided it was finally time to make it. I’m so happy I did!
It has three layers of moist, delicate graham cracker cake, a thick fudgy ganache filling and frosting, and homemade marshmallow meringue (cream) throughout and toasted on top. It’s everything you love about a classic s’more, only in a beautiful layer cake!
First, I want to let you know that you can make this recipe into a few different kinds of cakes. I went with a very tall 3 layer 6-inch cake, however, you can also make a two layer 9-inch cake with two nice thick layers of cake, or a three layer 9-inch cake with slightly thinner layers of cake. The only thing you need to do differently is watch the bake time.
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to make your cake, start by making the batter.
Do I need to buy graham flour to make a graham cracker cake?
The answer is no! This recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of finely ground graham cracker crumbs. Simply break a few sleeves of graham crackers into large chunks and pulse them in a food processor until a soft, fine powder forms.
The flavor from the graham crackers combined with a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon gives this cake the perfect flavor.
Pour the batter into lined baking pans and bake until the tops spring back. Take care not to underbake or you’ll end up with a gooey center. Check for doneness and then check again! They should be golden brown on top.
While your cakes are cooling you’ll want to make the ganache. The process is pretty straightforward:
How to make chocolate ganache:
- Heat heavy cream on the stovetop just until a few small bubbles form.
- Remove it from the heat and pour it over 16 ounces of finely chopped quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 6 minutes.
- Remove plastic wrap and stir until the chocolate has completely melted and is silky smooth.
Now, if you were making this for a drip cake, you’d let it cool at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and it would be good to go. However, we want it to be thick enough to spread in between layers and hold the weight of the cake as well as cover the cake like a frosting. To reach what is called a pipeable consistency, it has to be refrigerated. Place a fresh piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ganache and chill for 20 minutes, stir, then chill again if needed. Think peanut butter! It will firm as you frost so don’t let it get too stiff.
While your ganache is chilling, make the marshmallow meringue. I promise it’s not as intimidating as it sounds, and if you’re really worried (or in a time crunch) you can use the jarred stuff too- it just won’t be quite as thick or stable.
Simply heat the ingredients on the stovetop over a water bath, then whip with your stand mixer until it turns thick and bright white. My kids love watching this transformation and so do I! ✨
To assemble the cake, start by setting one layer of cake on a cake stand or cake plate. Spread a layer of ganache over top, about a 1/4-inch in thickness. Then do the same with the meringue. I personally like to place my meringue in an extra large piping bag fitted with a extra large tip and pipe it over the ganache, then use an offset spatula to spread it out. This keeps the layers nice and clean.
Repeat the process until you get to the last layer. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and down the sides. If you’re not super careful like me, you may get a few streaks of meringue in your ganache. I thought it was kind of pretty but you may want to be more cautious! ?
Pipe the rest of the meringue on top (or spread it) and toast it using a kitchen torch. If you have leftover graham crackers you can add the crumbs to the base but it’s purely decoration!
Enjoy this cake with a tall glass of milk because you’re going to need it! I really hope you’ll love this s’mores layer cake as much as we did. All of my s’mores dreams came true… I have a feeling yours will too! ?
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For the cake:
- 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 c. brown sugar, packed
- 2/3 c. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (finely ground)
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 c. buttermilk, room temperature
For the chocolate ganache frosting:
- 8 oz, heavy whipping cream
- 16 oz. chocolate (I do half semisweet and half bittersweet chocolate), finely chopped
For the marshmallow meringue:
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 tbsp. corn syrup
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. mini marshmallows
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of three 6-inch pans (or two 9-inch or three 9-inch pans) with parchment paper and spray the sides with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. With mixing speed on low, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk until combined. Mix until just until combined, do not overmix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Use a kitchen scale if necessary to ensure they are all the same amount.
- Place in the oven and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes if using 6-inch pans, 30-35 minutes if using two 9-inch pans or 20-25 minutes if using three 9-inch pans. Keep an eye on the cakes and test for doneness (every oven is different). The tops will spring back when touched. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the ganache:
- For the ganache, place chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, warm cream just until a few tiny bubbles begin to form. Remove from the heat from the stovetop and pour over the chocolate. Tilt the bowl until the cream is completely covering the chocolate. Place plastic wrap over the top and let it rest for 6 minutes.
- Remove the plastic wrap and stir the chocolate until completely melted. Place the plastic over the surface of the chocolate and refrigerate for 20 minutes, stir, then refrigerate until a pipeable consistency is reached, about another 10 minutes.
For the marshmallow meringue:
- Combine the egg whites, water, corn syrup, granulated sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set it over a saucepan with simmering water (medium heat). Whisk constantly until the mixture becomes foamy and reaches 160 degrees.
- Remove and beat with the whisk attachment on high for 2 minutes, then stop, add the vanilla extract and marshmallows and continue beating for 2 more minutes until the mixture becomes thick and smooth or until stiff peaks form.
- Place the frosting in a large piping bag fitted with an extra large round or star tip.
- Place the first layer of cake on a cake plate or cake stand. Spread a 1/4-inch later of ganache over top with an offset spatula. Pipe marshmallow meringue over the ganache, spread into a smooth layer. Repeat if necessary (if making a 3 layer cake). For the top, spread remaining ganache over the top and sides. Pipe remaining meringue on top and toast with a kitchen torch. If desired, pat graham cracker crumbs around the base of the cake. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.