I feel like I’ve been neglecting my poor little blog. And I can’t even say I’ve been stupid busy doing other stuff…I was a complete lump for a week after leaving the hotel. Lethargic to the point that I would be concerned I’m slipping into some sort of depression if it weren’t for the fact that I’m really happy about being a couch monkey. Then I was really busy spending an entire week thinking about getting ready to host a bachelorette pot luck for my friend Jo. I’m much better at over-thinking parties than actual execution, but I think it came together fairly well (mostly because all I had to do was make dessert and wipe water stains off my wine glasses before people showed up with food).
I am, however, really proud of the dessert. Jo has an unnatural and completely awesome fondness for marshmallows, but I couldn’t just make my favorite s’mores brownies for this very special bachelorette. I found this recipe here and couldn’t NOT make it. I mean, look! It’s so pretty!
Ooh, I also made some flower arrangements. I fancy myself quite the floral designer (that’s a lie, my friend Sayzie was totally the genius and moral support behind these).
Tall cool flowery things with deep purple cala lilies. This photo does none of it justice.
So…onto the cake. Bear with me, there’s a lot of stuff going on here. Just in case I didn’t mention it before, it’s worth it.
Line 3 8″ cake pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray (I use Pam for baking). Melt the butter – 15 second intervals in the microwave (no, the two have nothing to do with each other, I’m trying to be photo efficient here).
Mix the melted butter with the graham cracker. The recipe called for 18 graham cracker rectangles, but since I am a lazy couch monkey (and since I had them in the pantry) I used graham cracker crumbs. Please note in the top left corner of the photo that the crumbs are in fact made with real graham crumbs. I found that comforting.
Pour the boiling water on it, stir it and let it cool. I don’t really know why this step is important, but it worked, so you should do it too. You can also be impatient like I was and only let it cool until you can stick your (clean) finger in it without burning yourself. It will still work.
Mix the other stuff up according to the directions, it will look miraculously like cake batter. You’ll be so amazed at the transformation you won’t take a photo. Divide evenly between the three pans. Yes, I realize the 2 with the graham crackers will be thicker, that’s ok, just do it.
Bake it, and it will come out looking like this:
While they’re cooling, make the ganache. We’ve discussed this before. It’s criminally easy. Measure chocolate out. Bring milk to a boil. Pour milk over chocolate. Whisk until creamy. MAGIC FROSTING. In this case you should be patient and let it cool a little longer than I did (until almost room temp) or it will be really runny. It still worked, but it makes for a much thinner layer between the cakes.
Still with me? Now you make the marshmallow frosting while that’s in the refrigerator.
I frosted the whole cake (including the top) then just globbed on layers of the fluffy marshmallowy goodness until I could glob no more. Then I ate several spoonfuls, just to make sure it still tasted OK.
It was so hard not to eat this before
the guests came dinner. But the bride to be had to make the first cut. And she had to be bribed to wear the veil by threat of withholding cake. I’m an evil bitch like that. And she was a good sport for the 47 seconds it took to take this photo. I didn’t push too hard…my in-laws gave me that cake knife she’s holding and I didn’t want to die by it.
adapted from: www.heatherchristo.com
Graham Cracker Cake Bottom
18 large grahams (the rectangle)
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
12 Tbs butter
Heather got all fancy and brown buttery on this. I got all couch monkey on it and melted the butter in the microwave, combined all the dry ingredients in a bowl, poured the butter over it and mixed until it was combined. I did line the pans with parchment. Whew.
Dark Chocolate Cake:
2 cups boiling water
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup soft unsalted butter
2-1/4 cup white sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
2-3/4 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the coco powder in a small bowl, and pour the boiling water on top of it.
Whisk the water and coco together until smooth, and then set aside until cooled (this would be where I stuck my finger in to test it).
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time until they completely combined.
Sift all of the dry ingredients together.
Gently add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and half of the chocolate. Mix to combine.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients and mix into a smooth batter (mine was pretty runny because I was impatient on letting the chocolate cool).
Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Two of them, gently spread over the graham crust.
Nicole recommends baking the layers for 25 minutes, my non graham one took about 30 and the graham ones took closer to 45. I took her advice and used the “even cake layers” strips to keep them flatter on top. I don’t know if that impacted the cooking time or if it was the graham cracker.
Let the cake layers cool.
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb dark chocolate pieces (I used bittersweet because it’s what I had – very tasty)
In a heavy, small pot, bring the cream to a simmer – watch it closely- it boils over quickly. Pour the cream over the chocolate pieces and whisk together until smooth and shiny.
Set aside and let cool.
Once the cakes and the ganache are cool, place the first round, graham cracker side up, onto the serving piece you intend to use.
Spread a thin layer of ganache on the graham cracker, top with second graham cracker layer, repeat and top with plain cake layer, dome side up.
Chill long enough that the layers don’t slide on the ganache and the remaining ganache is room temp (it’s easier to decorate the outside of the cake that way). Frost the rest of the cake, then chill (the cake, not you) while you make the frosting.
3 egg whites at room temperature (this is important, don’t rush it)
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup karo corn syrup
2 Tbs water
1 TBS vanilla bean paste
(you can find it at specialty cooking stores or upscale grocery stores)
In the bowl of a standing mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and salt until pale and frothy.
Meanwhile, heat the sugar, corn syrup, water and vanilla paste. Heat over medium flame until the sugar is dissolved and just simmering, mine took about 3 mins.
With the mixer on medium speed, add a tiny bit of the hot sugar mixture to the egg whites at a time – I used a teaspoon to pour the first few additions in. If you pour all of the hot mixture in at once, you’ll have chunky scrambled egg whites, not frosting.
Continue to add the sugar slowly. When it’s all in, turn the mixer up to high. Beat the bejezus out of the mixture on high for about 5 minutes or until very stiff and shiny.
Glop the fluffy goodness all over the top of the cake, then toast the top with a kitchen torch, scary looking industrial torch or matches. Whatever works for you.
Impress your friends.