I love desserts inspired by s’mores. I don’t love s’mores on their own, they’re too messy they give me stress, BUT S’MORES FLAVOURED DESSERTS are always so good.
So I decided to make a s’mores cake. This cake has layers of chocolate cake, that have a biscuit base underneath them, then a milk chocolate ganache layer AND a toasted meringue on the outside.
It was soooo good, if you like anything s’mores related, you need to make this immediately!
The first thing I made was the ganache, just because this needs some time to set up.
I decided to fill this cake with with ganache, just because s’mores have a piece of chocolate in them and I feel like ganache is the closest thing to actual chocolate.
Making it is very easy, you just need:
- Milk chocolate
- Double cream – also known has heavy cream.
- Unsalted butter
You heat all this together until the chocolate has melted, then leave this to set in your fridge, just until it thickens and becomes spreadable.
By the way, if you accidentally leave it in your fridge for too long and it ends up fully setting, don’t worry. Just heat it in your microwave for a few seconds, until it becomes spreadable again.
Can I use a different kind of chocolate?
You don’t have to use milk chocolate for this, you could use dark or white chocolate.
If you are using dark chocolate though, you will have to adjust the recipe slightly.
In the recipe card below you will see that I said to use 180ml of cream. If you are using dark chocolate, use 300ml instead.
If you want to use white chocolate, you don’t need to change anything, the recipe can stay the same.
The biscuit base
The next thing to make is the biscuit base.
For this you just need to mix some crushed digestive biscuits (or graham crackers) and melted butter together. Press this down into your cake tins, then bake it.
This was actually the first time I’ve baked a biscuit base, I usually skip this step.
BUT I think I will always bake them from now on. Baking it added a nice toasty flavour.
I do always see people bake their biscuit bases, I thought it was a waste of time, turns out it is not. I should trust more often.
The chocolate cake batter
We’re going to bake our chocolate cake batter on top of the biscuit base.
Here are the ingredients you are going to need to make the cake batter:
- Cocoa powder – unsweetened cocoa powder is always better to use.
- Hot water mixed with instant coffee – the hot water is going to hydrate the cocoa powder, which will intensify the chocolate flavour. The coffee is also going to help intensify the chocolate flavour.
- Oil – this is going to add a lot of moisture to the cake. Any flavourless oil works, but I used vegetable oil.
- Buttermilk – also for moisture.
- Plain flour – also known as all purpose flour.
- Sugar – I used a mixture of both white and brown sugar. The brown sugar is going to add a lot of flavour and moisture.
- Baking soda – to make the cake rise.
- Vinegar – this is going to react with the baking soda and the cakes bake, which will help them rise more.
Ingredient substitutions for the cake layers
A few of the ingredients I used for the cake batter, I usually get asked if there are any substitutions for them.
So we should talk about them:
Coffee is added to a lot of chocolate flavoured desserts. All it does is intensify the chocolate flavour; it makes it taste more chocolaty.
If you are worried about the cake tasting coffee flavoured, you don’t need to be. It won’t taste like coffee at all.
With that being said, if you want to leave it out, you can. The difference won’t be huge, the cake will still taste great.
Make sure to still add the hot water though, just don’t add the coffee to it.
Cakes typically need some kind of fat in them. This can either be butter or oil.
Butter adds flavour to cakes, whereas oil adds a lot of moisture.
When it comes to chocolate cakes, chocolate is an overwhelming flavour. So butter doesn’t add anything to the flavour at all.
So I like to use oil instead, so that the cake can be extra moist.
However, if you wanted to use butter instead, you could. In the recipe, it says to use 200ml of oil.
If you’re using butter, use 200g of unsalted butter. Melt this before using it.
The buttermilk does 2 things, it adds moisture, and also the acidity from it also reacts with the baking soda which helps gives you a fluffier cake.
If you don’t have buttermilk, plain natural yoghurt is the best substitute. Honestly most of the time I use yoghurt, I never have buttermilk.
OR you could also make a buttermilk substitute by mixing together 120ml of whole milk and 1/2 a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Leave this aside for 10 minutes, then it is ready to use.
But actual buttermilk or yoghurt are the best 2 ingredients to use.
The brown sugar
Like I mentioned, I used a mixture of both white and brown sugar. I used soft light brown sugar to be more specific.
I love using brown sugar in cakes, it just makes them so much more moist, and it adds extra flavour too.
But if you didn’t have it, regular white sugar works. Instead of using 125g of granulated sugar and 125g of brown sugar, use 250g of granulated sugar.
The last step in making the batter is to mix some baking soda and vinegar together, in a separate bowl. Then add this into the cake batter.
This is something that is usually done in red velvet cakes. Essentially, the vinegar reacts with the baking soda in the oven. This gives the cake an extra lift as it bakes, which makes it fluffier and gives a velvety texture.
I always use white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar works great too. These 2 give the best results, but if you didn’t have either, lemon juice will work.
The Swiss meringue
The last thing we are going to be making is the Swiss meringue.
I used to be intimidated by making meringue but honestly it’s very easy.
All you need is:
- Egg whites
- Granulated sugar – caster sugar works too.
- Vanilla extract
You just want to get a pot, add some water into this and let this come to a simmer.
Then in a bowl, add the egg whites, sugar and salt. Place this on top of the pot, heat this mixture, whiles constantly stirring, until the the sugar has fully dissolved. Then whip it until you get stiff peaks. Also don’t forget to add the vanilla at the end.
Then it is ready to use.
A few tips
Use fresh egg whites
Depending on what I’m making, sometimes I like to use the egg whites from a carton.
But when it comes to meringue, I’ve found that those egg whites do not work as well.
The meringue doesn’t whip to stiff peaks when using egg whites from a carton, so make sure to use fresh egg whites.
Only make this before you’re about to use it
You don’t want to make this ahead of time. Only make it before you’re about to add it to the cake.
If you make it too early, the meringue can deflate, then it will be difficult to whip it back into stiff peaks.
Once you have added it to the cake and it has been toasted, it won’t deflate, but before this it can.
So it’s best to only make it before you’re about to use it.
How to toast the meringue without a blow torch
Blow torches are a great tool to have. When I first got one I didn’t think I was going to use it that much.
I use it all the time.
Every time I’m cutting something, I heat up my knife with the blow torch. It helps give you much cleaner slices.
And of course it’s helpful to have one when I need to toast something. For this cake, I used it to toast the meringue.
But if you don’t have a blow torch, there are other ways to do it.
The grill method
One way is by putting the cake under your grill/broiler.
Then just toast it until it turns a golden brown colour. This won’t take long, so don’t walk away.
The only problem with this is that your grill/broiler is only going to toast the meringue that is on the top of the cake, it’s not going to toast the sides.
So another way is by toasting it in your oven instead.
The oven method
To do this, turn your oven onto the highest setting, and let this pre-heat.
Once it has pre-heated, slide your cake onto a baking tray, then place this into the oven.
I have never tried this though, truthfully it seems risky, I would be stressed that the ganache in the cake would melt.
But people do this for baked Alaska, which is all ice cream, so if the ice cream doesn’t melt, the ganache will probably be fine too.
If you are doing this though, don’t walk away!!!
Sit in front of your oven and watch it, you don’t want to leave the cake in there for too long.
ANYWAY whatever way you decide to toast the meringue, once it has been toasted, you can cut into the cake and dig in!
- For the ganache:
300g milk chocolate
180ml double cream
20g unsalted butter
- For the biscuit base:
450g digestives, or graham crackers
160g unsalted butter, melted
- For the chocolate cake layers:
50g cocoa powder
80ml hot water mixed with 1 teaspoon instant coffee
200ml vegetable oil
200g plain flour
125g granulated sugar
125g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons white vinegar
- For the meringue:
4 egg whites
200g granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Start by pre-heating your oven to 180c/350f. Also grease and line two 8 inch cake tin with baking paper. Leave these aside.
- Making the ganache:
- In a large bowl, add the chocolate, cream and butter. Heat this in your microwave for 30 seconds, then take it out and give it a stir.
- Place it back into your microwave and heat for 15 seconds this time, take it out and stir again.
- Keep repeating this until all the chocolate has melted and you get a smooth ganache. At this point you can also sieve it if you feel like there are lumps in it.
- Cover and leave in your fridge, just until it thickens and becomes spreadable.
- Making the biscuit base:
- Start by crushing your digestives/graham crackers. You can either do this in a food processor, or you can put them in a food bag and hit them with a rolling pin.
- Once crushed, mix this with the melted butter.
- Add this into your two prepared cake tins, then spread it out and flatten it down.
- Bake these at 180c/350f for 10 minutes, once baked leave to cool whiles you make the cake batter.
- Making the cake layers:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water/coffee.
- Add the oil, buttermilk and eggs into this, whisk until combined.
- Now add the flour and both sugars, whisk just until you get a smooth batter.
- In separate small bowl, add the baking soda and pour the vinegar over this. This mixture will start to bubble, just give it a quick mix then pour it into your batter and whisk this in.
- Pour this cake batter into your tins, on top of the biscuit base, then bake at 180c/350f for around 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Once baked, leave to cool completely.
- Putting the layers together:
- Once your cake layers have cooled and the ganache has become spreadable, you can put them together.
- I started by cutting the top of my cake layers off, just to get flat layers but you can skip this if you want.
- Place a cake layer onto a cake board, then spread a layer of the ganache on top. Now add the second layer of cake.
- Leave this in your fridge whiles you make the meringue.
- Making the meringue:
- In a pot, add some water and place this over medium heat. Let this come to a simmer.
- In a bowl, mix together the egg whites, sugar and salt. Place this on top of the pot with the simmering water. Make sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl, if it is, pour some water out.
- Keep heating this, whiles stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved. To check this, rub some of the mixture between your fingers. If you can't feel any grains of sugar, it is ready.
- Take this off the simmering water, then whip the mixture until you get stiff peaks. Once you get stiff peaks, mix in the vanilla.
- Adding the meringue to the cake:
- Spread this meringue over the cake, then using a spoon or palette knife, add swirls to it
- Using a blow torch, toast this meringue until it has turned a golden brown colour.
- Now you can cut into it and enjoy!