S’mores Cake & Cupcakes

This has been our summer of s’mores. It began in early June with a campfire and a family week in the mountains. On that trip, we even found ourselves manning a s’mores table at a race expo in West Yellowstone. We were up to our elbows in sticky melted marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. Still, we could have eaten more of them.

Before summer gets away from us, we’re spending some weekend time baking up this s’mores-inspired cake. The result is a tender graham cracker cake, a thick layer of rich chocolate ganache, and toasty “marshmallow fluff” frosting. Summer on a cake stand.

We’ve taken some liberties with this one. The chocolate is dark and the fluffy white frosting isn’t what it looks like. Instead of whipping up a traditional marshmallow cream, we’ve whipped up a bit of aquafaba (seriously cool stuff), sweetened it with sugar and lathered it on the cake. A kitchen blowtorch makes toasting a snap.

If you’re not familiar with aquafaba, welcome to one of 2016’s biggest food trends. Aquafaba is essentially the brainchild of some very clever French and American food geeks who figured out that the liquid in a can of garbanzo beans contained enough of certain bean proteins that it could be whipped like egg whites to create foam. As it turns out, aquafaba is more than just a passable substitute for egg whites. Aquafaba foam is more stable for longer periods of time and at a wider range of temperatures. It’s also much harder to over whip and break because it doesn’t dry out quickly. It can be flavored and colored to suit the use (think meringue, French macaroons), pavlovas, etc.). And, it’s also vegan. Although, that doesn’t seem to matter to us too much since we’re using butter, eggs, and cream in the cake and ganache recipes. However, we’re always game to try the latest food trends and incorporate them into our recipe repertoire.

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S’mores Cake
one 6-inch cake with a 6-pack of cupcakes

Graham Cracker Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs, finely ground
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup kefir
2 tsp vanilla

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Aquafaba Marshmallow Fluff

Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour a 6″ cake round and line with parchment. Grease and flour, or use cupcake papers, for 6-7 muffin spaces. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Sift through a fine sieve and slowly push through most of the graham and flour until only small graham cracker crumbs are left. Add the crumbs to the flour mixture and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth.
Add sugars and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (2-3mins).
Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.

Alternate adding flour mixture and kefir, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of kefir). Fully incorporating after each addition. Do not over-mix.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the top with a spatula and gently whack the pans against the counter to evenly distribute and release any air bubbles.
Bake the cupcakes for 12 minutes then rotate the pan and bake another 12 minutes or until the cupcakes bounce back from a light touch. For the 6-inch cake. Bake for approx. 40 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.

Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10 mins. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and cake to loosen. Gently remove the cakes from the pans, set on racks and allow to fully cool before continuing.


Dark Chocolate Ganache

5.25 ounces dark chocolate (1 1/2 bars TJ’s 3.5 ounce dark chocolate bars)
4 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoon soften butter
pinch of salt

Chop the dark chocolate and place it in a heat proof bowl. In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat bring the heavy cream to just about a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate, add a pinch of salt, and let sit for a minute or two, then whisk the chocolate and cream together. Once all the chocolate is incorporated, add the butter.

Allow the ganache to cool at room temperature for a couple of hours or in the fridge for about 30 minutes before continuing.

Aquafaba Marshmallow Fluff
(adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup ultra fine (baker’s) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Drain the garbanzo beans into a bowl with a lid. Use the garbanzo beans for another use. Refrigerate the bean water over night. We think chilling it makes for a shorter whipping time.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or using a handheld mixer, add the refrigerated bean water and cream of tartar to the mixing bowl and mix on medium-high speed. Once double in volume, add the ultra fine sugar and vanilla. Whisk until peaks reach desired stiffness. The bean water seems to hold up well to over-mixing.

Assembling the cakes:

Split the 6 inch layer cake in half and add 2/3 of the chocolate ganache to the split layer. Spread until to the border of the cake and top with the other split layered cake. Spread a thin crumb coat over the sides of the cake. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to a day or two. Freeze the cake at that point for up to a month before frosting.

Top the cake with a very big dollop of the fluff. Using an off set spatula, smooth over the top and sides using swishing with flourishes to the cake. This is an excellent beginner decorator frosting.


With the rest of the ganache, divide between 6 or 7 balls (depending on how many cupcakes are left). Gently and quickly roll the balls between hands. Freeze until ready to use.

With a melon baller, scope a small amount of cake out of the top center of the cupcake. Place the frozen ganache in the hole. Frost the cupcake in a variety of ways, with a pastry bag, using a big ice cream scoop, or just a spooned dollop on top. Toast the marshmallow using a home creme brûlée kit or a more toolbox-type blowtorch. A quick sit under the broiler may work also to get some color on the fluff, but it could also melt the chocolate. Who knows?

Coconut Flour: Coconut Almond Cupcakes

Lately, we’ve been going coo-coo for coconut flour. Coconut flour is milled from coconut meat after the oil has been pressed from it. It’s used as a substitute in baking and cooking in place of wheat flour to make gluten-free goodies. It’s a low-glycemic flour with a very high fiber content. The saturated fats in coconut oil were vilified during the anti-fat years, but they’ve enjoyed a resurgence in respect due to suspicion the oils in coconut may in fact be good for us.

We’ve decided to begin experimenting with coconut flour because it’s a low-glycemic food. We, like almost everyone in the world, love sweets. We’re all hard wired to want them. But we’re also aware of the many health issues associated with a diet rich in sugar and refined starches (high-glycemic foods) and the effects they have on our health as we age including diabetes and heart disease, just to name a couple. These bad guys are at the top of a list of hundreds of aliments caused by a diet full of high-glycemic foods and deficient in dietary fiber. So we’re trying harder to improve the fiber to digestible carbohydrate ratio with our current food choices. It’s simple! We want our cake, we want our cake to be extremely delicious, and we want it to be reasonably healthy…is that too much to ask?

There aren’t many cookbooks out on the market describing all its uses and most of the google results seem to be linked to gluten free and/or vegan baking resources. So far we’ve had great success with pancakes but the recipe still needs a few more tweaks before we publish it. The recipe that follows was a great success with the help of Gluten-Free Cupcakes, 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour by Elana Amsterdam. If you’re looking for something definitive, we recommend Cooking with Coconut Flour: A delicious Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Alternative to Wheat by Bruce Fife, N.D.

Although typically available in health food stores, coconut flour is being stocked on more and more grocery shelves and is widely available on-line. We buy ours from Rainbow Market in San Francisco. Bob’s Red Mill sells an organic coconut flour online and in a number of grocery retailers.

Thanks to all that water-absorbing fiber, baking with coconut flour requires using extra liquid (eggs work especially well) to keep the end product from getting too dry. The effect makes coconut flour a good “volumizer,” so don’t be surprised if your recipes yield more of whatever you’re making.

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Coconut Almond Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting

3/4 cup Almond Flour
3/4 cup Coconut Flour
1/2 cup desiccated Coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup agave syrup
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut oil melted and cooled
1/3 cup yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Using baking spray, spray each of the 48 individual muffin tins lightly, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour and coconut flour with the desiccated coconut, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.

In a medium-mixing bowl, add the agave syrup, eggs, and coconut milk. Whisk together until thoroughly combined. Add the coconut oil and yogurt, whisk again until combined.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until there are no white streaks of flour.

Using a small cookie scoop, evenly disperse the cake batter among the 48 cupcake tins. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the muffin tins; top to bottom and front to back, after each four minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from the tins. Place on the wire rack and cool completely, 30-45 minutes, before frosting.

Ganache Frosting

8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee
pinch of salt

Using a large bowl, prepare an ice bath. In a medium sized bowl, which will fit into the large bowl, add the chopped chocolate. Heat the cream on the stovetop until starting to boil. Add the cream to the dark chocolate along with the instant coffee and salt. Whisk until combined, 20-30 seconds.

Using a handheld mixer, place the medium bowl of chocolate on in the large ice bath bowl. Being careful not to get water into the chocolate, beat the chocolate over the ice bath, starting on low for 2-4 minutes or until thicken and slightly lighten in color. Quickly add the whipped ganche into a pastry bag and decorate the cupcakes.

Do not let the ganache cool or it will firm up right away. If this happens, place the bowl of chocolate over a bain maire to slightly melt the chocolate. Start to beat the chocolate again with the handheld mixer, and place back on the ice bath until the consistency of frosting.