Summer dreaming: Smitten Kitchen s'more layer cake
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Cook time: 
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Serves: 8-12
This recipe is from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I've added some 'leopard is a neutral' flair to the directions, but all credit goes to Deb. Buy her cookbook. Seriously.
  • cake layers:
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups honey (not cinnamon-sugar topped) graham-cracker crumbs, finely processed to a powder (about 14 2½-by-4⅞-inch sheets). Alternately, you can buy pre-ground honey graham-cracker crumbs and enjoy them mercilessly for the next month or two.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, well shaken (or 1⅓ cups milk and ⅔ cup sour cream)
  • filling:
  • ½ pound milk chocolate, chopped small
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • frosting:
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Make the cake:
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line them with circles of parchment paper, then butter or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, graham-cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, a third of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, and then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing between additions until combined. Scrape down bowl, and mix again briefly if needed. This is an excellent opportunity to lick the beaters. The batter is delicious!
  4. Divide batter between prepared cake pans, smoothing tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack, then run a knife between the cake edges and pans before inverting each layer on a rack, discarding the parchment paper, and flipping back upright onto a rack. Let cool completely, a process you can speed up in the fridge.
  5. Make the filling:
  6. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Combine the heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate, and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice water, and stir it until it firms up to a spreadable consistency. You can also let it cool down in the fridge, stirring it from time to time so it thickens evenly.
  7. Prepare the cake:
  8. On the cooling rack, use a long serrated knife to level the top. As Deb suggests, it's only fair to place the scraps in a bowl where your housemates can enjoy them. Place one layer on a cake stand or plate. Spread chocolate thickly over bottom layer. Place the top layer over bottom layer. Admire.
  9. Make the frosting:
  10. Place egg whites, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Transfer the bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting at low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 4-7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mis until combined. You'll want to use this immediately.
  11. Frost the cake:
  12. Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the top and sides, covering all of the crumbs (and binding them to the cake). Make sure not to dip the crumb-y knife back into the frosting! Transfer the cake to the fridge for 5 or 10 minutes, to let it set a bit, then generously coat the top and sides with additional frosting. Pipe the remaining frosting in marshmallow-like dollops decoratively over the top. With a kitchen torch on a low setting, lightly brown the top, creating a toasted-marshmallow effect.
Recipe by LEOPARD is a NEUTRAL at