S’mores Cake

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On Monday, I turned thirty.

This is a milestone year for me in so many ways. A thirtieth birthday. Our first wedding anniversary. Our first baby. Life feels so full of excitement and possibility and reason to celebrate these days. I am so, so thankful. Last year, life was much different.

Stress. Planning a wedding.

Fear. My mom was so sick.

Grief. We said goodbye to my Grandma.

Most days last year were full of uncertainty and stormy weather and there seemed to be no way to right the ship. These days the load feels lighter. There is breathing room and sunshine feels plentiful. I know challenging times will come and go. I know this wonderful season of life will pass, too. But certainly there has been enough hard to enjoy the wonderful and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am so ready for my thirtieth year and all that it has to offer.

But enough mushy stuff. You came for the cake, didn’t you?

I’ve wanted to make Momofuku’s Chocolate Chip Cake forever and really wanted to work that into my birthday creation. They layer theirs with homemade passion fruit curd, chocolate crumbs and coffee buttercream. As much as I’d love to try it, we aren’t exactly swimming in high quality passion fruit around these parts and I didn’t think that my guests would appreciate such a combination anyway. So, s’mores, AKA my favourite.

This cake took me half a day to make and I still have toasted marshmallow crusted INSIDE my stand mixer but I was really happy with how everything turned out. The chocolate chip cake reminded me of a boxed white cake (in a good way) and that buttercream, although incredibly messy, is my new favourite.

I know it looks like a lot of “stuff” but if you have an epic celebration coming up, I highly recommend this baby.

S’mores Cake

Serves 16

Chocolate Chip Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper circles. Set aside.

Combine butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high again for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

On low speed, stream in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Continue mixing for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogeneous. Be patient and don’t rush the process! Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Once the mixture is completely mixed, continue mixing at low speed and add cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Do not over mix. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl — if you see any lumps of cake flour in there, mix for another 45 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the cake batter to the prepared pans. Give the bottom of your pans a tap on the counter top to even out the layer. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips evenly over the cake batter layers.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cakes will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain buttery and dense. At 25 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the centre should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cakes in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

Take the cakes out of the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack.

Toasted Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 6 cups mini marshmallows

Instructions:

Beat butter in your stand mixer until smooth. Add in powdered sugar slowly and then the cream and continue mixing until smooth.

Turn oven onto broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread marshmallows out in an even layer. Place under broiler for about 45 seconds until they are browned and puffed. Watch closely because they will burn very quickly.

Immediately scrape the marshmallows into the butter mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.

The frosting will be warm due to the marshmallows, so allow it to cool a bit before spreading.

 Milk Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Instructions:

Put chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the cream just starts to boil, pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for two minutes and then start whisking slowly from the centre out, whisking continually until totally smooth and blended.  Cool slightly before assembling cake.

Vanilla Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

Stir milk and vanilla together and refrigerate if not using right away.

Assembly

Ingredients:

  • ½ prepared graham crust, coarsely crumbled
  • Milk chocolate chips or chunks for garnish

Instructions:

Lay one cooled cake layer down on a plate and brush it with half of the vanilla milk, then spread the cake layer with half of the marshmallow buttercream. Press half of the graham crust crumbles into the buttercream. Drizzle with half of the milk chocolate ganache.

Lay down the second cake layer, brush it with the other half of the vanilla milk and spread it with the other half of the marshmallow buttercream. Drizzle this with the remaining milk chocolate ganache and pile the remaining graham crust crumbles artfully on top. Sprinkle the top of the cake with milk chocolate chips.

Cover cake and freeze overnight. Make sure to thaw the cake fully before serving.

Notes:

I made Momofuku’s graham crust, baked it for 10ish minutes and used half of it in my cake but any recipe will work. I personally found this one high maintenance because it needs powdered milk, which I never have on hand. Feel free to make a half batch if you don’t want extra.

This cake was even better on day two after being thawed. Make ahead if you can for the flavours to really mesh.

The marshmallow buttercream is CRAZY messy. Spray your parchment and stand mixer paddle with non-stick spray if you can.

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Chocolate Chip Cake Recipe

Toasted Marshmallow Buttercream Recipe

Vanilla Milk Recipe

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Momofuku’s Birthday Cake

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OHHHH MY GOSH YOU GUYS.

THIS CAKE.

 I have been dying to tell you about it since I had it last weekend. I even had something else lined up for today but, it can wait. You need to make this cake. Drop everything.

My sister Caitlin was in town last weekend to celebrate her birthday. She’s a big fan of vanilla cake and I started brainstorming something cool for her. When I checked out the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook from the library recently, I happened again on this showstopper and I knew it was time.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Momofuku Milk Bar is a well-loved dessert bar in New York (with a new location in Toronto!) known for the cakes, cookies, pies and other treats created by their co-founder Christina Tosi.  In reading the Milk Bar cookbook, I’ve developed a huge admiration for her. The book is stellar in every way and she is a creative genius in the kitchen, in my opinion. I fell in love with this cookbook so much that I plan on buying a copy and bombarding you with every recipe in it. You don’t mind, do you?

I had lusted over Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake for ages now, but I was admittedly a little intimidated by the process. It just looked so complicated, with a lot of ingredients and materials that were hard to come by. Once I read the cookbook though, complete with suggestions for substituting the hard to find ingredients, I was on board. In the original method, you bake the cake in a quarter sheet pan and then cut out three 6 inch circles for the cake layers. Then, you layer the cakes using a cake ring and strips of acetate. I decided to really simplify things and bake two cake layers in 9 inch round pans. This way I didn’t have to buy acetate, a cake ring and a new sheet pan. I figured if I bought all that, I might as well just fly to New York and pick up a damn cake myself. I’m exaggerating a bit, but still. Resourcefulness for the win!

I’m kind of embarrassed at how much I avoided this recipe because it was actually really simple and fun to put together. I made it all in one go, but you could even make the crumbs and cake one day and assemble it the next. I made the crumbs first and while they cooled, made the cake. Then while the cake cooled, I stirred together the soak and made the frosting. By the time that was done the cakes and crumbs were cooled for me to assemble the whole thing, which took me maybe ten minutes. I love how rustic and unique this cake looks.

And the taste? We were dying, DYING over this cake. I’ve made many, many cakes in my day, and this one is my favorite ever, bar none. My fellow taste testers agreed. All we could talk about while we went about our weekend and even while we ate dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant was that we couldn’t wait to get back to the house for another slice of this cake. It’s a winner, you guys, and now that I’ve figured how to make it even easier, I’m passing my suggestions onto you. DO IT.

 

 Momofuku’s Birthday Cake

Serves 8-10

 Birthday Cake Crumb

Ingredients:

½ cup white granulated sugar
1 ½ tbsp. light brown sugar, tightly packed
3/4 cup cake flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. rainbow sprinkles
¼ cup canola oil
1 tbsp. clear vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined. Add the oil and vanilla and stir again, until everything mixes together and forms small clusters. Bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from the oven once starting to turn light gold. Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe. While your crumbs cool, bake your cake.

Birthday Cake

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups white granulated sugar
3 tbsp. light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 eggs
½ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp. clear vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
¼ cup + 2 tbsp. rainbow sprinkles, divided

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment and set aside. Combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more. On low speed, pour in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white and twice the size. Don’t rush the process; there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and the ¼ cup rainbow sprinkles. Mix for less than a minute, just until your batter comes together. Pour the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp. of rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter. Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cakes with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave them in for a few extra minutes if need be. Once they are finished baking, take the cakes out of the oven and cool on a wire rack. While the cakes cool, make your soak and frosting.

Birthday Cake Soak

Ingredients:

¼ cup milk
1 tsp. clear vanilla extract

Instructions:

Stir together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.

Birthday Cake Frosting

Ingredients:

½ cup butter, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. corn syrup
1 tbsp. clear vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
½ tsp. salt
Pinch of baking powder

Instructions:

Combine the butter, shortening, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on its lowest speed, pour in the corn syrup and vanilla. Crank the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is totally smooth and a glossy white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the powdered sugar, salt and baking powder and mix on low speed just to incorporate them into the batter. Turn the speed back up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until you have a smooth, bright white frosting.

 

To Assemble the Cake:

Lay one layer of the cake down on a plate. Using a silicone basting brush, soak the first cake layer evenly with half the soak. Spread it with half the frosting, and then sprinkle it with the crumbs. Lay the second cake layer on top. Brush it with the remaining soak, spread it with the remaining frosting and garnish with more crumbs. Freeze the cake for at least a few hours or overnight, thawing before serving.

 

Notes:

Christina Tosi recommends McCormick’s clear vanilla extract for this cake because it tastes more like boxed cake mix, but I couldn’t find it and gave up after three stores. I used clear vanilla extract that I picked up in Mexico and it worked great.

As you may notice, I made a few substitutions in my version of the cake, because again, some of the original ingredients were hard to find. For the frosting, I couldn’t find citric acid or glucose. I left the citric acid out entirely and I substituted half the amount of corn syrup for the glucose. I also used canola oil instead of grapeseed oil as recommended in the cookbook by Christina Tosi.

The crumb recipe is SO GOOD. My Main Taste Tester said it tasted just like crumbled Rainbow Chips Ahoy, and he’s right. It almost killed to me not eat it all before getting it into the cake. The recipe makes a lot of crumbs. I felt like I layered them on my cake pretty thick and still had a good amount left over, which I froze. If you don’t want extra, you could cut the crumb recipe in half. Or, if you’re smart, you could save the extras like I did and put them on everything. Confetti cookie crumb ice cream sundae, anyone? These were so good I’ll probably remake them on their own.

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Recipe from Momofuku 

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