The Sunday Dinner Table: Dana Pollack’s S’Mores Cake
At The Sunday Paper, we want to inspire you to gather at your tables—virtually or in-person—and open your hearts and minds with the help of our Meaningful Conversation Starter and featured recipe.
Meet Our Chef: Dana Pollack
Learn about her mission: Former photo-editor of Muscle and Fitness magazine, now trained pastry chef, Dana Pollack is the creative force behind Dana’s Bakery. Studying fine baking and the pastry arts at NYC’s Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), Dana was drawn to French macarons for their beauty and distinct texture. Surprised by the lack of variety in flavors she began pairing these traditional French treasures with desserts she grew up eating (and still eats to this day).
Get her recipe: S’Mores Cake
Get Our Conversation Starter: What does taking a break look like for you? How can I help you in making a true pause happen for you?
This S’mores Cake is better than the real thing, with a unique graham cracker crust supporting the multiple graham cake layers. A marshmallow buttercream is used throughout, topped with a rich chocolate fudge. Feeling fancy? Torch some dollops of meringue for added drool appeal!
Yield: 14 slices
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
2 cups (200 g) graham cracker crumbs
1⁄4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1 stick (1⁄2 cup [120 g]) unsalted butter, melted
1⁄4 tsp salt
GRAHAM CRACKER CAKE
2 1⁄4 cups (225 g) graham cracker crumbs
2 1⁄4 cups (270 g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (14 g) baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp (7 g) cinnamon
1 cup (250 ml) vegetable oil
1 1⁄2 cups (350 ml) water
1 1⁄2 cups (350 ml) whole milk
2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (180 g) light brown sugar
1 tbsp (13 g) vanilla extract
3 sticks (11⁄2 cups [360 g]) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups (300 g) confectioners’ sugar
14 oz (397 g) marshmallow fluff
1⁄2 tsp salt
CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE
1 1⁄2 cups (265 g) milk chocolate chips
9 oz (255 g) sweetened condensed milk
3⁄4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
6 egg whites
1 1⁄2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
To make the graham cracker crust, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom of three 8-inch (20-cm) round baking pans with parchment paper and set them aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and salt until just combined and evenly moist. Divide this mixture in half and transfer each half to two separate prepared baking pans. Evenly press the crumbs with the end of a flat-bottomed cup into the bottom of each pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
To make the graham cracker cake, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, water, milk, sugars and vanilla. Whisk by hand until combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Divide the batter among the three prepared baking pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature. Once fully cooled, remove the cakes from the pans.
To make the marshmallow buttercream, in the work bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the marshmallow fluff and mix until smooth. Beat in the salt.
To make the chocolate fudge sauce, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, condensed milk and cream. Heat in 30-second increments, stirring between each increment. When the chocolate is melted, stir the sauce until it is smooth.
To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers with a graham cracker crust on a cake stand, graham cracker facing up. Spread one-fourth of the marshmallow frosting over the cake. Spoon 4 to 5 tablespoons (60 to 75 ml) of the chocolate fudge sauce into the center of the frosting, ensuring that it does not reach the edges and spill. Place the cake layer that does not have a graham crust on top and repeat this process. Place the last cake on top with the graham crust facing upward.
Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining marshmallow buttercream. Spoon the chocolate fudge sauce little by little around the sides of the cake, letting it drip down. Do this with a small spoon and just do one drip at the time, then spoon or pour the rest of the glaze on top of the cake and level it with an offset spatula. Refrigerate the cake for 4 hours.
To make the meringue while the cake is chilling, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the work bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until stiff peaks form. Remove the chilled cake from the refrigerator and decorate it with meringue. Toast the meringue using a kitchen torch.
Reprinted with permission from Dana’s Bakery by Dana Pollack, Page Street Publishing, Co. 2021 Photo Credit: Jesse Korman