As promised: gimme s'more cakelettes! Oh man, I am so excited about these little individually-sized cakes because they turned out super yummy. Like, lick-your-own-plate-and-then-reach-over-and-lick-your-neighbor's-plate yummy. They do take up quite a few steps and components, but let me tell you right now that they are well worth it. Trust me.
Of course, no s'mores cake would be perfect without baking homemade graham crackers first, which are far deeper and complex in flavor than those store-bought crackers that taste uncannily like the cardboard they come packed in. In homemade graham crackers, you can actually taste all of that honey and molasses and brown sugar goodness, and they're a must when you're trying to translate the humble s'more into a cake. Plus, graham crackers are a fantastic snack to have around anyways!
Armed with good graham crackers, let's move on to the cakelettes! Allow me to break this down for you. The entire thing is made up of five different layers, packing in all of the graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow essence of s'mores that I could into cake form. At the bottom is a graham cracker genoise, made from powdered graham crackers. On top of the genoise sits the bulk of the cake: a thick layer of dense, velvety, and rich chocolate souffle cake. Served at room temperature, the chocolate souffle cake nearly resembles the texture of warmed and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. Then comes a thin layer of Italian meringue, topped by an actual graham cracker that is covered with dark chocolate ganache: that's already double the chocolate of a regular s'more, if you're keeping count! Finally, the whole package comes enveloped in a cloud of sweet and fluffy Italian meringue, seared and browned on the outside into a perfectly and satisfyingly sticky marshmallow-like package.
In addition to capturing the right s'mores flavors in these cakelettes, I also tried to maintain the same smush-iness that you get in eating an actual s'more, too. With the top layer of chocolate-ganache-covered graham cracker, you get the satisfaction of smashing the crisp graham cracker into the bottom meringue and chocolate layers when you plunge your fork into these cakelettes. These aren't supposed to be tidy little cakes: they're supposed to evoke the same all-over-your-fingers goodness that you get from real s'mores! (If you'd like a cleaner cakelette, you can leave the graham crackers out to soften for a day, and they'll be easily cut-able.)
These cakelettes went over as a huge hit at the dinner party where I served them--I kind of wish I'd made more! Incidentally, too,--and this was completely unplanned--the day I made them also happened to be National S'mores Day. But really, it would be a shame to save these cakelettes for just one day out of the year!
Read on for the recipe...
Individual Gimme S'more Cakelettes
makes eight 3-inch cakelettes
for graham crackers:
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbspn molasses
4 Tbspn whole milk
2 Tbspn vanilla
2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbspn AP flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tspn baking soda
3/4 tspn salt
7 Tbspn butter, cold
1. Whisk together the honey, molasses, milk, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
2. Place the flour, light brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined.
3. Cut the butter into the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
4. Add the pre-mixed liquid ingredients to the food processor and pulse just until a dough begins to form.
5. Dump the contents of the food processor out onto a lightly-floured surface and form into a rectangle. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until firm, preferably overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside.
7. Once chilled, work with the dough in two batches, keeping a batch in the refrigerator while working with the other. Roll the dough out thinly on a lightly-floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Cut eight 3-inch rounds of dough out and shape the rest as rectangles. Place the cut-out dough on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about one inch between each cracker. Prick the surface of each cracker a few times with a fork. Chill the baking sheet for 25-30 minutes.
8. Bake the crackers in the oven for about 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheet half-way through to promote even baking. Remove from the oven when the crackers have turned brown and are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool completely.
[Tip: If you can, cut the cookie rounds slightly less than 3" in diameter, as they'll "grow" a little in the oven and reach 3".]
[Tip: The original recipe (see recipe sources below) calls for a 25 minute baking time, but I found this far, far too long in my temperature-accurate oven.]
for graham cracker genoise:
30 gr graham crackers
20 gr AP flour
12 gr corn starch
4.5 Tbspn butter
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
6 egg yolks, at room temperature
88 gr sugar
2 Tbspn water
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a quarter sheet pan, lined with parchment paper and then lightly greased and floured.
2. In a food processor, grind the graham crackers into a fine powder.
3. Combine the powdered graham crackers with the flour and cornstarch and set aside.
4. On the stove, heat the butter until the solids drop to the bottom and begin to brown. Remove from heat immediately and strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the solids. Add the vanilla extract to the liquid butter and keep warm.
5. In a mixer bowl over simmering water, combine the egg yolks and the sugar. Whisk constantly until the mixture is almost hot to the touch.
6. Transfer the warmed egg yolks and sugar to the mixer and whisk on high for five minutes.
7. Add the water to the eggs and sugar, and whisk briefly on medium to combine.
8. Using a large balloon whisk, fold in the graham cracker and flour mixture to the eggs in two parts.
9. Fold in the melted butter and vanilla to the batter in two parts. Do not overmix!
10. Immediately pour the batter onto the prepared pan. Smooth out the batter so that it's about 1/2-inch thick. The batter may not fill the whole pan--that's okay.
11. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cake is golden and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and cool.
12. Prepare a silpat on a baking sheet or line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Line eight 3 x 2" cake rings with parchment paper and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Once the genoise is cool, cut out eight 3-inch circles of cake and fit them into the bottom of the cake rings. Set aside.
for chocolate souffle cake:
6 Tbspn butter
7 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs, separated.
3 oz. sugar, divided into equal parts (1.5 oz x2)
pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the dark chocolate, whisking until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool briefly.
3. In a mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg yolks and 1.5 oz of sugar on high until light, fluffy, and triple in volume, about 4-5 minutes.
4. Fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped egg yolks.
5. In a separate bowl, either by hand or using a mixer, whisk the egg whites. Start on medium low until the surface of the egg whites are covered in foam. Then increase the speed to medium high, gradually add the remainder of the sugar and whisk until the egg whites hold medium stiff and glossy peaks.
6. Fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate and yolk mixture. Then gently! fold the remaining whites in until there are no streaks visible.
7. Immediately divide the batter into the eight cake rings on top of the graham cracker genoise layer at the bottom.
8. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the tops of the cakes are no longer shiny, but do not allow the cakes to puff up and "souffle"! Remove the cakes from the oven immediately and let cool completely, preferably overnight. They will continue to firm up while they cool.
for dark chocolate ganache:
3 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
2.5 oz. heavy cream
1 Tbspn butter
1 Tbspn chocolate liqueur, optional
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the heavy cream and butter to just barely a simmer.
3. Pour the simmering cream mixture onto the prepared chocolate. Let sit for two minutes.
4. Whisk the chocolate and cream until completely smooth. Then whisk in the chocolate liqueur, if using.
5. Spread a layer of the ganache onto each round graham cracker. Let cool at room temperature for about an hour, until the ganache is no longer liquid. If a softer cookie is desired for the cake, let the graham crackers sit uncovered for about a day; otherwise for a crisper cookie, use immediately or store in an airtight container.
for Italian meringue:
11 oz. sugar (~310 grams)
5 oz. water (~140 grams)
150 gr egg whites (~5 egg whites)
pinch of cream of tartar, optional
1. Combine water and sugar in a small pot over medium-high heat. Without stirring, bring to a boil and let cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.
2. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixer bowl. With the whisk attachment, begin whisking the egg whites when the syrup begins to bubble on the stove. Start whisking on medium low until the whites begin to foam all over, then increase speed to medium high. Whisk until medium stiff peaks form and stop.
3. Once the syrup has reached 240 degrees F (soft ball stage) and the whites have been whipped to soft peaks, gradually pour the syrup in a small stream into the egg whites, whisking on medium high continuously. Be careful not to allow the sugar syrup to fall on the beaters.
4. Continue whisking until the bowl of the mixer is at body temperature and not warm to the touch anymore.
5. Unmold the genoise and chocolate souffle cakelettes. Spoon about a tablespoon or two of the Italian meringue on top of each cakelette and top with a prepared chocolate ganache-covered graham cracker round.
6. Frost the outside of each cakelette with meringue. Using a blow torch, brown the meringue. Serve at room temperature but store in the refrigerator.
Graham cracker recipe roughly adapted from 101 Cookbooks.
Graham cracker genoise inspired by the Golden Genoise from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible.
Chocolate souffle cake recipe roughly adapted from Prueitt and Robertson's Tartine.