Make the Ultimate S’mores Cake for Camping Season
Baker Courtney Rich shares her recipe for this chocolatey, marshmallow-filled treat.
S’mores are the official dessert of summer. Just when you thought it was impossible to beat the simple combination of graham crackers, marshmallow, and chocolate bar, baker Courtney Rich of Cake by Courtney found a way to take the treat to the next level: the s’mores cake.
The cake is such a stunner that it was chosen to be the cover star of 50 Things to Bake Before You Die by author (and Thrillist contributor) Allyson Reedy. Rich also has a cookbook coming out called The Cake, and she shared the lowdown about her s’mores cake with us.
Growing up, it was all about s’mores in the summertime for Utah-based Rich. “It’s just something we did together as a family,” she remembers. “I think it was a fun, easy dessert that my mom could do, and a fun little treat, especially during the summer.”
That love of s’mores stayed with Rich and inspired her to create the first iteration of this cake around six years ago. She wanted to create something that’s really over-the-top and texturally interesting, and she accomplished both.
The s’mores cake, which has three cake layers, achieves this by baking a graham cracker crust into the bottom of each layer. Then, there’s chocolate ganache on top of the cake layers and a toasted marshmallow-infused buttercream that goes on top of the ganache. The exterior of the cake gets covered in chocolate buttercream and then marshmallow fluff crowns the cake—Rich torches it for extra s’mores oomph.
“Cakes are so easy in the sense that we can also just morph it into a sheet pan or a 9x13 and make a single layer of it to make it really easy and just serve it with a spatula and it’s just one layer,” says Rich “As a three-layer cake, you get so much of the goodness.”
It’s easy to get lost in the many layers of gooey, crunchy deliciousness, but there are some things to know before diving into this cake’s recipe. The marshmallow-infused buttercream is simpler to make than it sounds, thanks to Rich’s use of store-bought marshmallows. Broil the marshmallows before combining them with fluff (also store bought), powdered sugar, and butter.
“It gets a little sticky to have the marshmallows in there,” Rich explains. “But you get this crunchiness from the marshmallows, as well, after toasting them in the oven.”
When it comes to the chocolate ganache, Rich suggests using dark chocolate chips (she likes these from Guittard) or maybe a semi-sweet chocolate chip, if you prefer. Definitely do not use milk chocolate, though, since the combination will then be too sweet. “If you start with a dark chocolate chip, you’ve got this bittersweet chocolate, but it starts to sweeten up and really balance with the other elements that you’re putting into the buttercream,” she says.
Another thing to keep in mind when baking this cake is the time commitment. With three cake layers and the other components, it’s a pretty time-intensive cake. Rich suggests not making everything all in one day. “Spread things out over the course of a few days because you can make your cake layers ahead of time, freeze them, and they stay super fresh,” she says.
Let the cakes completely cool before wrapping them in plastic wrap for the freezer. They’ll be good for weeks. You can also make the buttercream ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature and it’ll be fluffy again in no time. The marshmallow filling and ganache should be done the day of. Don’t forget to torch the top of the cake for extra tastiness. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can use your oven broiler, just keep a close eye on it.
Plan ahead, and you’ll have a cake that steals the show at any celebration, whether it’s a birthday party or a camping trip with friends. “Because when we think of s’mores, we’re thinking summertime,” says Rich.
Ultimate S’mores Cake Recipe
• 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, about 18 rectangular crackers
• ½ cup unsalted butter melted
• ⅓ cup granulated sugar
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
• ¾ cups dark cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• ¾ teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 3 large eggs at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup hot water
• 24 large white marshmallows
• 1 cup powdered sugar measured and then sifted
• 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 jar marshmallow fluff (or see recipe below)
• 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
• ½ cup whipping cream
• ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
• 10 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 2 cups unsalted butter slightly chilled
• 5 cups powdered sugar measured then sifted
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• Pinch of salt
• 3 egg whites room temperature
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ⅓ cup sugar
• 1 cup light karo syrup
• 2 tablespoons water
• 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or clear vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line with parchment. Spray again. Set aside.
2. In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Stir until all the graham cracker crumbs are damped by the melted butter.
3. Divide evenly between the three pans and press down firmly with your hand or the back of a spoon.
4. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool while you make the chocolate cake batter.
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, water and vanilla.
4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, scraping the bottom
of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 12 ounces in each 6-inch pan or 15 ounces in each 8-inch pan), over the cooked graham cracker crusts and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
6. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.
1. Place the marshmallows on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on the middle rack of the oven, and broil the marshmallows until golden brown on top, about 30-60 seconds. Keep your eye on them!
2. Remove the pan from the oven and gently turn the marshmallows over and broil them again until they are golden brown on the other side.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and powdered sugar and beat on low until blended. Add the vanilla and mix on medium speed for about three minutes
4. With the mixer on low speed, add the marshmallow cream and (cooled) toasted marshmallows, and mix for about one minute.
1. In a microwave safe bowl, pour the cream over the chocolate chips and heat for about 45-60 seconds.
2. Stir, and if needed, heat for another 30 seconds to melt the chocolate chips completely.
3. Let cool to room temperature before using.
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the eggs and salt until fluffy and frothy.
2. Meanwhile, heat the sugar, corn syrup, water and vanilla paste. Heat over medium flame until the sugar is dissolved and just simmering, about 5 minutes.
3. With the mixer on medium speed, add a tiny bit of the hot sugar mixture to the egg whites at a time. (Temper the eggs, don’t scramble the them)
4. Eventually, all of the sugar will be added and then turn the mixer up to high. Beat the mixture on high for about 5 minutes or until very stiff and shiny.
5. Best used right away.
1. Heat the cream until nearly boiling in a microwave safe bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and stir until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add the ganache. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and then mix on medium-high speed for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth.
4. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, followed by the vanilla and salt.
5. Buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.
6. When you’re ready to frost the cake, bring the frosting back to room temperature and mix by hand with a wooden spoon to push out all of the air pockets.
1. Level each chocolate cake layer, if needed, and then place the first cake layer, graham cracker side down, on a cake board.
2. Spread half of the chocolate ganache on the cake layer and then freeze for 5-10 minutes to set the ganache a little.
3. Carefully spread half of the toasted marshmallow filling over the chocolate ganache and repeat step 2 and 3 for the second cake layer.
4. Place the final cake layer, graham cracker side down, on top and cover with a crumb coat layer of the chocolate frosting. Freeze the cake for 10-15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
5. Finish frosting the cake with the chocolate frosting and then decorate the top of the cake with the marshmallow fluff, toasting with a kitchen torch, if desired.