Individual S’mores Cakes

Individual S'Mores CakesWhen I was young, I was in the Boy Scouts. It was almost required in my neighborhood that you don the uniform, take the pledge and immerse one’s self in all things outdoorsy. (Yes, that’s a real word. My spell check didn’t even burp!) There were a lot of things I really enjoyed, many of them associate with camping trips. But I think the best thing about those weekends in the woods was when, after dinner and the requisite campfire sing-along, we broke out the fixin’s for s’mores.

I cheated a little. I found a way to warm my chocolate bars – a few squares at a time – so that my s’mores would be extra gooey. The first time I placed my bar – still in the foil wrapper – in a small, rectangular grilling basket and waved it over the fire, the rest of the boys around my fire thought I was nuts. They laughed themselves silly and made numerous jokes at my expense.

I smiled my lop-sided grin at them and held my tongue. After a few minutes of warming, I pulled my chocolate bar from the basket and set it aside as I toasted my humongous marshmallow. When I assembled my s’more, and the other boys saw that gooey chocolate, the tone of the evening changed in an instant.

“Hey, can I use your basket?” was the question almost every one of them asked.

“After laughing at me? Don’t think so.” And I heated up a few more squares of chocolate.

After consuming at least four of those gooey little pieces of heaven, I relented and warmed enough chocolate for everyone while they toasted their marshmallows. And all was right with the world.

Individual S'Mores CakesI’m really hoping you already know how to make a s’more, because I’m going straight for S’mores Cakes. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of recipes, but this one is for individual servings. I like these because I think it’s pretty cool to serve each person their own little mountain of goo. It’s hard to reconcile in my mind, but I can’t help but think “elegant,” which is not a word normally associated with s’mores. Gooey? Yes. Sticky? Yep! Delicious? Absolutely!! But elegant? Amazingly enough, if you put it all in individual serving dishes, jars or cups, they do take on a certain elegance.

I strongly encourage you to read through the entire recipe before beginning. There are several notes at the end that can be very helpful to those making this for the first time. You’ll also see that, even though there are a lot of ingredients, putting it all together isn’t that difficult. Just take your time and you’ll be fine.

Individual S'Mores Cakes

Eight ounce jars are a great serving size, and this
recipe will make eight of them!

Notice the chocolate chips melting into the
marshmallows. Yum!

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 stick butter (unsalted)
Big pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1-1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (the darker, the better)
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar (light is best)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon half and half (not milk!)
1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
2 tablespoons sour cream
Marshmallows for topping

Optional toppings:
Miniature chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)
Graham crackers


Individual S'mores CakesInstructions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

First, make the crust:

Melt the half stick of butter.

Thoroughly combine graham cracker crumbs, salt and cinnamon (if using).

Add melted butter to crumb mixture and stir with fork until all crumbs are moistened.

Spray jars, cups or whatever you’re using with cooking spray, such as Baker’s Joy. Divide crumbs among serving dishes. Start with a little in each one, continuing to add a little at a time until the crumb are all gone. Press the crumbs into the bottom only – not up the sides.

Next, make the cake:

Crack egg into large bowl. Add brown sugar and whisk until it’s smooth and you can’t see any lumps.

Add half and half, butter and vanilla, whisking until thoroughly combined.

Stir in sour cream and blend thoroughly.

Sift all the dry ingredients together (see below).

Individual S'mores CakesAdd dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Whisk like a banshee until batter is smooth. Use a hand mixer if you like. Or a whisk attached to a power drill. Again, your guy friends will love it!

Fill serving dishes to just barely past halfway. Again, it’s best to start with a little at a time so that each dish gets the same amount of batter. This recipe is enough for four 16 oz. mason jars, eight 8 oz. jars or ramekins, or sixteen mini-servings in 4 oz. dessert cups or demitasse coffee cups.

Place individual dishes in a baking dish. Add a cup and a half of water to the dish. Bake until cake is set. For 16 oz jars, that will be about 30 minutes. For 8 oz. jars, check at 20 minutes, just to be sure.

Remove from oven and top with marshmallows. Be careful to not burn yourself! Use tongs if needed.

Immediately return to oven, set at broil (see below). Watch them constantly. Do not blink. Do not turn your head to check the score, or to see a replay of that play you just missed. If you do any of those things, I promise your marshmallows will be burnt when you look at them again.

As soon as the marshmallows are as dark (burnt!) as you like them, remove the baking dish from the oven. Using oven mitts or potholders, carefully remove each serving, dry the outside of the jar, and place on small plate.

Serve immediately. If desired, you can sprinkle the top of the marshmallows with miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, a few crumbs, a sprinkle of cinnamon, or any combination of the three.

Individual S'mores CakesNotes:

Let’s talk about the serving jars: A lot of the recipes out there call for using mason jars as serving dishes. And if you’re going to serve this at a cookout of some sort, mason jars are perfect! They’ll be totally in line with the overall theme. Yes, 16 oz jars will produce Manly Portions, but I’ve noticed that less than half of the men served have eaten the entire thing. Ninety percent of women don’t, either. I’ve found that 8 oz. jars are much better. Let the few who want more go for seconds. And let that one big guy that came with your brother have thirds. Just because.

For other occasions, I’ve found that doing a 4-6 oz. portion works very well. Again, you can make a few extra for those who want more.

In addition to Mason jars, I’ve used individual ramekins (4, 6 and 8 oz. sizes), rocks glasses, mini dessert dishes. Once, I put them in demitasse cups, which were about 5 ounces. They don’t have to be clear; you can still do a nice presentation in other dishes. So be creative! And don’t worry if all you have are the coffee mugs that came with your dish set. Use them and have fun!

If you’re doing Manly Portions in 16 oz. Mason jars, you probably won’t be able to reach the bottom of the jar to press the crumb layer. So, unless your sweetheart has really small hands and is willing to help, find yourself an implement with a flat bottom at the end of a handle. A hammer works well for this. Just be sure to clean it first, and again after. And don’t tell anyone of the female persuasion. Guys will give you a high five for your ingenuity. Ladies will scrunch their noses up and possible forego dessert.

I do my best to minimize the work I have to do after guests have arrived. That’s why my dessert is normally done in advance. However, I’ve found that this is best served when it’s hot right out of the oven. That’s when it’s most like the s’mores you remember. I still minimize the work by getting all my ingredients together and doing some of the first steps:

Prepare the crusts.

Measure all dry ingredients for the cake and sift them together.

Individual S'mores Cakes

Gather all other ingredients, placing them in a central location on the counter. The half and half can stay in the fridge, but I go ahead and measure it into a large measuring cup.

As for marshmallows, I’ve used both jumbo and normal size, and they’re both great. The jumbos do look good in a large jar, though. Try it both ways and decide which you like best.

Regardless of size, you’ll find that they sink down as they heat. I normally pile them a bit to counteract that.

I love topping mine with mini-chips (make sure they’re semi-sweet) as soon as they come out of the oven. Then I sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top and serve. You can also warm the chocolate chips over low heat to create a sauce to drizzle over the top. If you want some serious extra chocolate gooeyness, spoon in a generous portion of chips before topping with marshmallows.

Broiling the top of these requires an oven with a top heating element. If your broiler is below your oven, you’re probably out of luck. In this case, you could use a cook’s torch, if you have one. Or, you can use one of those mini-welding lighters. That would pretty Manly, I think.

One final note: these puppies are going to be REALLY hot when served! Be safe and make sure each guest has some sort of protection – an oven mitt or potholder works best. But if it’s all guys, you could tell them all to bring a pair of work gloves. Or buy a 12-pack of heavy duty gloves, and you’ll always have some on hand.

There you have it: a great take on a childhood favorite, and an excellent way to let your Manly Child have some extra fun. And I’ve got to tell you, this is an excellent recipe when you want to…

Play with your food!


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About Lane

Lane Baldwin is a an internationally-acclaimed singer, songwriter, author and food lover. He wasn't trained in France, and he doesn't have his own TV show. He just loves to cook, and loves sharing what he's learned over the years. In his "real life," Lane has toured the world, bringing his special brand of Blues-infused Americana to millions of fans. At home he leads a quiet life filled with good books, good food and good friends.