S’mores Layer Cake (Milk Bar style!)
This s’mores cake is built Milk Bar style – layers of chocolate cake, toasted marshmallow frosting, fudge sauce, and graham crust crumbs!
So, I’ve been slightly obsessed with Milk Bar-style cakes since I made the birthday cake a couple of months ago.
For those of you not familiar, these naked-sided cakes are built inside of a cake ring and feature layers upon layers of cake, frosting, crumbs, and other flavors. They have a cult following at Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City, and after having the cookbook for way too long, I finally tackled one in March.
A couple of weeks ago, I made the graham crumb mixture from the book for compost cookies, and after grabbing a handful to snack on (oops), I was thinking that they would be a delicious component for a s’mores cake. A few days later when I asked my aunt what kind of dessert she’d like for her birthday and she said “anything with chocolate”, I decided to execute the idea.
I am crazy in love with this cake!
I started by checking the book and while they do have a version with chocolate cake, fudge sauce and charred marshmallows, I decided it definitely needed the toasted marshmallow frosting from my six-layer cake (not just charred marshmallows), as well as some type of graham cracker component. And so, this s’mores cake was born!
The cake is supremely moist, and once chilled almost takes on a bit of brownie consistency, the hot fudge sauce is smooth and decadent, and I could eat the toasted marshmallow frosting with a spoon. Seriously, it’s amazing. The graham crust crumbs are ah-mazing, and I may have eaten more than my fair share while assembling this cake.
My aunt could not stop raving about the cake, and everyone else loved it, as well.
I know the process for these cakes can seem daunting (I thought so, too, before I made one!), but I promise it’s totally doable (and so much easier once you have the first one under your belt!). For step-by-step pictures of what the process looks like, refer to the birthday cake I did a couple of months ago – I took approximately seven billion pictures as I was assembling it, and the process is exactly the same for this cake (with the addition of a fudge sauce layer, yummmm).
One year ago: Loaded Baked Potato Dip
Two years ago: Top 10 List: Best Pie & Tart Recipes
Five years ago: Black Bean Salsa
Eight years ago: Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
S'mores Layer Cake
For the Fudge Sauce
- 2 ounces (56.7 g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
- ¼ cup (21.5 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) kosher salt
- ½ cup (170.5 g) glucose (can substitute ¼ cup light corn syrup)
- ¼ cup (0.25 cup) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (119 ml) heavy cream
For the Chocolate Cake
- 1¼ cups (156.25 g) cake flour
- ½ cup (43 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons ) kosher salt
- ½ cup (120 ml) buttermilk
- ¼ cup (54.5 ml) grapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons Fudge Sauce
For the Graham Crust Crumbs
- 1½ cups (126 g) graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup (32 g) milk powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) kosher salt
- ¼ cup (56.75 g) unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup (59.5 ml) heavy cream
For the Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
- 16 large marshmallows
- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) vanilla extract
- 1⅔ cups (211.67 g) marshmallow fluff
For the Cake Soak
- ¼ cup (61 ml) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Quarter sheet pan
- 1 , 6-inch cake ring
- 2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide and 20 inches long
Make the Fudge Sauce
- Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Combine the glucose, sugar, and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir intermittently while bringing to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, pour it into the bowl with the chocolate, cocoa powder and salt. Allow to sit for 1 full minute.
- Begin to whisk the mixture very slowly. Continue, increasing the vigor of your whisking every 30 seconds, until the mixture is glossy and silky-smooth. This will take 2 to 4 minutes, depending on your speed and strength. You can use the sauce at this point or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; do not freeze.
Make the Chocolate Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a quarter sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper, or with Silpat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, grapeseed oil, and vanilla extract.
- Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
- On low speed, gradually pour in the buttermilk mixture. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture nearly white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. There should be no streaks of fat or liquid (don’t rush this step!). Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the fudge sauce and mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix just until the batter comes together, about 45 to 60 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix on low speed for another 45 seconds to ensure that any little lumps of cocoa powder and cake flour are incorporated.
- Spread the cake batter in an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes; when you gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger, the cake should bounce back slightly, and the center should no longer be jiggly. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. The cooled cake can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
Make the Graham Crust Crumbs
- In a medium bowl, stir together the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter and heavy cream, then pour over the dry ingredients. Using a fork, toss the mixture to ensure that it is evenly moistened and forming small clusters. Store in an airtight container for 1 week at room temperature, or up to 1 month in the refrigerator or freezer.
Make the Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
- Place the marshmallows on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on the lowest rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until nice and brown on top, keeping an eye on them the entire time so they don’t burn. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until the other side is golden brown.
- Beat the butter and powdered sugar on low speed until blended together, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and increase the speed to medium-high; beat for 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, add the Marshmallow Fluff and toasted marshmallows, and mix on the lowest speed for about 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Assemble the Cake
- Put a piece of parchment or Silpat on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or Silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These are your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
- Layer 1, The Bottom: Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a Silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.
- Put the cake scraps in the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla extract for the cake soak. Using a pastry brush, brush half of the soak over the top of the cake.
- Using the back of a spoon, spread one-fifth of the toasted marshmallow frosting in an even layer over the cake.
- Dollop a few heaping tablespoons of the fudge sauce over the frosting and spread in an even layer.
- Sprinkle one-third of the graham crust crumbs evenly over the top of the fudge sauce. Use the back of your hand to press them gently into the sauce.
- Use the back of a spoon to spread a second fifth of the frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
- Layer 2, The Middle: With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall. Set one of the cake rounds (the more imperfect of the two) on top of the frosting, brush with the remaining soak, and repeat the process for Layer 1 (a fifth of frosting, a layer of fudge sauce, a third of crumbs, and another fifth of frosting).
- Layer 3, The Top: Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the last fifth of the frosting, then another layer of fudge sauce. Garnish the frosting with the remaining graham crust crumbs.
- Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. (The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.)
- At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours before slicing and serving. (You can store the cake, wrapped well in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.)
- Canola oil can be substituted for the grapeseed oil.
- The glucose is used to give body and smoothness to the fudge sauce. You can purchase glucose on Amazon, but can substitute corn syrup in the fudge sauce (see recipe above for amount), although the taste and texture will be altered, as corn syrup is sweeter and thinner.
- After doing a couple of these cakes now, I've found that the actual cake is easier to handle after it's been chilled in the refrigerator.
- You'll use some of the fudge sauce in the cake recipe, and more for layering the cake, but you may have some leftover. Save it for your ice cream! :)
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
I made this cake for an event recently and it was a showstopper! Rave reviews are still coming in. The sponge is delicate and moist. That marshmallow frosting is really something special, though. I did find I needed to mix it a bit longer than stated in order to get it to a more manageable consistency. This was such a fun bake – I’ll be doing this one again for sure!
Hi ! Can i use your mashmallow fluff recipe To make the mashmallow frosting ? Thanks!
Had trouble with the cake batter. I am a fairly frequent baker and had all of my items at room temperature. I beat the batter for the upper end of the recommended times for each step. While I was streaming in the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla the mixture curdled. I beat with the paddle attachment for a very long time to try to “fix” it and even tried to switch to the whisk in attempt to minimize the curdling and double the size but no luck. Any suggestions?
Having made a couple of Milk Bar cakes before, this is usually what happens for me – it smooths out when you add the flour, it’s okay, just keep going.
If I wanted to double this recipe do you think it would make enough to do a 9” round instead of a 6?
Yum. How tall does the 6” cake ring need to be? How many rings are needed to buy?
Ok, I have finally made this cake, and OMG! First of all, it was fun making it. It came out beautiful. I did, however, use a ganache recipe in lieu of the fudge, as suggested in a review. This was for my boss’s birthday. He said this cake is the best cake he has had since being here in the US (for 30 years), as he is from Argentina. Highly recommend this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing!
I am planning on making this in couple of days and can’t wait. Question…someone here stated they used just a ganache in place of the fudge. Will be fine for the 3tbsps of fudge in the cake recipe?
If there’s leftover toasted marshmallow frosting, how long can it be stored and what’s the best way to store it?
Marshmallow fluff is impossible to find in NZ especially at the moment. Is there anything I could substitute instead?
This will be my fourth year to make this cake for my oldest son’s June birthday. It’s always a hit and I reserve this cake only for his special day. We all loved it as written but actually like it better with your standard chocolate cake recipe as the cake layers. The marshmallow filling, hot fudge and crumb layers are delicious!
Marshmallow fluff is impossible to find in NZ especially at the moment. Is there anything I could substitute instead?
This cake is very easy to make and beautiful, but I feel strongly that it should be served at room temperature. I took it out of the fridge an hour before serving and it was an overly salty, overly rich brick. The next morning, after being out all night, it was fluffy and creamy and had much more dimension.
This looks so delicious! Adding the s’mores piece to a chocolate cake makes it even better!
someone else posted this but i didnt see a reply. should the graham cracker crumbs be toasted after mixing all of the ingredients together? I feel like they should be crisp… not mushy and wet like mine are?
YES!! i’ve made a lot of milk bar and milk bar inspired recipients with different variations of crumbles in them. usually they are toasted, so i went along and did the same thing here. i put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in an even layer at about 275° for about 25 minutes. you can adjust the time just till they’re crispy and a little golden.
For the fudge sauce, I made dark chocolate ganache which uses fewer ingredients and is far simpler to make. This is a very ingredient- and dish-heavy recipe.
my cake sunk in the middle but it was perfectly done and the taste was delicious!! any suggestions???
the taste of the cake was Delicious it tasted like a brownie! my problem was that when it finished baking it sunk in the middle and it was perfectly baked i don”t get it what happened?? have any suggestions????
Oh no! I’m not sure why that would have happened… did you make any substitutions? Are you at altitude?
Morning, the ring I have does not open to let the cake out. When you mention pop the cake out do you just lift from the bottom.
This cake was awesome!!!! The perfect amount of sweetness and chocolate. Many different textures. Definitely will make it again. Many steps, but it’s worth it!!!!!!!
Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe! And for having metric conversions 🙌🏻
I’m in Australia so just checking what you mean by “large” marshmallows? Would you mind linking to an example and then I can source the right size here? 😊
Hi Amber, Here is a link to the most common marshmallows sold here in the U.S.: https://www.kraftrecipes.com/product/00600699661164/jet-puffed-marshmallows-16-oz-bag?categoryid=10478… “large” is in relation to the miniature marshmallows that are also sold :)
Thanks so much for your quick reply Michelle! Making it today 🙏🏻
I’m not sure if I missed this in the directions but for the graham cracker crumb portion after it’s mixed should it be baked or is it meant to be unbaked?
I made this cake for my son’s campfire style bday party and it was a massive hit with the kids. I did reduce the sugar however in both the fudge sauce and the cake (to 2/3 the amount) and it was still cloyingly sweet. Of course, it IS a s’mores cake so we all know those things are sugar bombs, and I definitely prefer a less-sweet dessert, so maybe I aimed too high. It was frigging delicious and a spectacular looking cake though. I don’t have cake rings so I built mine up in a parchment-lined 4” high square tin. Worked perfectly, and was beautiful!
Does the frosting tend to be liquidy ? After you add the marshmallows? I feel like it went from nice and fluffy to liquidy .
Hi Alana, Not liquidy at all. It’s not super thick, but I would not classify it as liquid.
Looks amazing! Making this for a 70th birthday. Wondering if the graham cracker crumbs should be coarse or fine. Made mine fine and not sure if it should be more coarse to make them crunchy.
Hi Carrie, I made mine fine!
Thanks! Also, do you think it would be an issue if I removed the acetate strips a few hours after thawing? Im traveling two hours with this cake in a cooler and would like to keep the strips on as a barrier to protect it during transport.
Hi Carrie, I think that would still work!
This cake didn’t seem daunting until I had to try to track down the specialty baking items, to no avail. So here’s my question. Can I increase the recipe and make it an adult human size? Would that mean one and a half times in an 8-inch pan? Thanks for any insight you can offer!
Hi Christine, Yes that should work.
I am baking my niece a cake for her 2nd birthday party. It is at a cabin at the metro parks and will be a camping theme. It would be a mix of adults and children eating the cake. Would you recommend your S’m Layer cake recipe or the SIX-LAYER CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH TOASTED MARSHMALLOW FILLING & MALTED CHOCOLATE FROSTING? Both sound amazing and I can’t, but need to decide, between the two. I don’t really have time to make a trial and taste both. I just wanted to get your opinion!
Hi Ashley, Oh that is such a tough call! I’d say since you’re feeding a group, I would go with the six-layer cake, as it will go much further! They’re both fantastic cakes and I LOVE the marshmallow frosting used in both :)
Hi. Do you need a 2” or a 3” cake ring for this?
Hi Sarah, You actually need a 6-inch cake ring… it’s listed under special equipment, right under the ingredients.
Hi! I’m hoping to make this cake tomorrow for my boyfriend’s birthday, but I’m estimating about 20 people. How would you recommend I approach it? Just double the recipe and change to a 9″ cake ring? Thanks!
Hi Katherine, I think making two separate cakes would be easier than trying to scale everything. Two cakes would definitely be enough for 20 people… it’s super rich!
Hi! I love your blog! This cake looks amazing and I’m making it for my little niece for her birthday but I have a question for the Ghram crumbs if you don’t have milk powder what could you replace for that? Thank you I know Lexie will love this cake♡♡♡♡♡
Hi Tina, Thank you! I would probably use more graham crumbs. Enjoy!! :)
The cake looks so great~~~ I really want to try it for my cousin’s birthday. Thank you for sharing the recipe!!
can a use a mouse mould instead of acetate.
Hi Deana, I don’t think a mousse mold on its own would be quite high enough – you’d still need the acetate strips to build the cake to the necessary height.
Preparing to make inner this weekend for a special dinner. I have no experience with glucose.
It appears to be powdered…does it need to be added as such or prepared in some way (Karo is liquid)?
BTW I tried the Apple Pie Cake from Momofuku and it was a disaster. I bake almost everyday and am fairly confident, something went really awry at the cake stage and I became frustrated. This will be my second go around.
BBTW I had a whirlwind in NYC early in the spring and with all that was going on (my 25th wedding anniversary) I FORGOT to go the Momofuku in person. I looked it up the morning we left, and to add insult to injury, there was one the next block over, 10 minute walk. There was no time! I’ve been thinking of ordering one to be delivered.
Hi Jeanne, Glucose should actually be in liquid form – it’s sort of the consistency of syrup. This is the one I use: http://amzn.to/2mVHvRj. I hope you enjoy the cake! :)
I bought a quarter size pan, but the 6-inch rings won’t both fit. Did you mean a half sheet pan?
Ha! Never mind….Just looked at the pictures for the birthday cake and saw that you put the rings diagonal!
I made this into cupcakes for a youth activity where we had a panel of men come and teach / answer questions for the youth. This was the refreshments for “Thank you for teaching us S’more about….” It was fabulous! While I had to make a few tweaks to make the cake work, I believe that was just due to high altitude and changing into cupcakes. Everyone loved them! The only other change I made was a large pinch of kosher salt into the buttercream. Easy to make and seriously delicious. First recipe I made off this site, can’t wait to try more!
Hi Mattie, So awesome to hear your adaptation and how well it was received! Thanks so much for sharing!
My favorite pie is Crack Pie and a go-to recipe when company comes. I normally would not have attempted one of their cakes, the recipes are very intimidating but you inspired me to attempt this one. This is now my favorite cake! I was amazed at how light this cake is, full of flavor – specially the marshmallow icing! It got a thumbs up from the entire family and I am now browsing my Milk recipe book for something else to make.
Ahhhh I’m so happy you gave it a try and loved it! Thanks for sharing the review!
Hi! Thanks for the EXCELLENTE RECIPE. I have a cuestion… How can i replace the heavy cream? In my country is difficult find
Hi Alejandra, I’m not sure I can recommend a good substitute given how the heavy cream is used in the different facets of this recipe.
I would love to try this recipe, but I can not get it to print. I have a MacBook Air that is connected to my printer. But the print option is grayed out. I just printed a return label, so I know the printer is connected correctly
Hi Keke, Hmmm I just tried it on mine (MacBook Pro with a printer on a wireless network) and it worked just fine, nothing was greyed out. Maybe restart or make sure none of your applications (browser, printer) need to be updated?
Looks amazing! The recipe does not indicate how much of the fudge sauce goes into the cake and how much to reserve for the layers…unless, I missed it.Please clarify.
Hi Cathy, Thanks! In the recipe, it does state 3 tablespoons of fudge sauce in the cake. As for the layers, I note that I did measure, just used a few heaping tablespoons – enough to cover a layer. Enjoy! :)
This is the cake dreams are made of!! I am absolutely making this cake for my husband’s birthday
I still can’t get onboard with the naked, unfrosted sides. It just looks unfinished to me. And who doesn’t love frosting? I think if I ever actually get around to !aking this, I’ll !ale extra frsotkng and cover the whole cake, because I’m old-fashioned like that.
I personally LOVE frosting and that was the biggest reason why it took me so long to make one of these cakes, but seriously, there are so many layers and different flavors that it just WORKS and it doesn’t seem like it’s lacking anything.
This looks amazing!! Quick question though…..I’m not familiar with milk powder. Mix it widely available in the baking aisle?
Hi Johanna, Yes, in my store it’s stocked right by the cans of evaporated and sweetened condensed milk.
This cake looks totally, insanely amazing! I want to dive right in. I am dying to make a Momofuku cake and give you mad props for making one with your own twist.
You’re killing me with this cake!
Quick q: do you serve it straight from the fridge? THANKS!
Hi Sally, You can serve it straight from the fridge or let it come to room temperature, whatever your preference.
I found that my cake took over 4 hours to defrost in the fridge after leaving in the freezer overnight and I served it right from the fridge. Texture was great, the cake was not dense like you would think being so cold. Great recipe!
OH. MY. A. GOD. That is all.
Just kidding, I have to rave a little–this is brilliant! This cake looks to die-for! I want this in-ma-belly-now!
Oooooh I’ve been day dreaming about S’mores Cake since I read your post yesterday…I CANNOT WAIT to try this! Might just have to clear out the freezer and carve out a day this weekend :)
We have a local restaurant, The Buckeye Roadhouse, that makes a S’mores Pie that is to die for…it shows up at the table hot out of the oven (or maybe from under the broiler or torch) and is gooey, sticky deliciousness on a plate. I once found their recipe and decided it was far too complicated to replicate (tho I am constantly trying to produce the perfect S’more in the toaster oven).
Off to the store to find acetate and glucose! Do I need clear vanilla extract for this recipe or does regular suffice?
Regular vanilla extract is just fine!
I was lucky enough to taste this cake. It was to die for! And, I got to bring the leftovers home. They didn’t last long.
I love brownies and this so reminded me of them.
This cake looks amazing! Love the toasted marshmallow! Quick question. Unlike the Birthday Cake, these crumbs are not baked? Thanks!
Hi Jennifer, Thank you! And correct, these crumbs are not baked.
I cannot wait to make this cake!
Looks great and will be perfect for my sons birthday on Sunday!
Been anxious for details since the weekend tease! Love your recipes!!!and truly enjoy your posts!
You post great recipes and pictures. It’s clear you put so much effort into posting, why not cite your sources?
Toasted marshmallow frosting is nearly identical to this one: http://hauteandheirloom.blogspot.ca/2013/05/style-s-layer-cake-with-chocolate-fudge.html
This is not the first time you’ve cherry-picked sources, just the first time I’ve commented. =P
The link you just shared is a recipe that was posted AFTER the six-layer cake I made back in March of 2013, which featured the toasted marshmallow frosting (https://www.browneyedbaker.com/six-layer-chocolate-cake-with-toasted-marshmallow-filling-malted-chocolate-frosting/).
I agree on the importance of citing sources. In this case though, if you look at the Six-Layer Cake she referenced, it was posted on Brown Eyed Baker with the same frosting recipe in March 2013. The Haute + Heirloom recipe you reference is from May 2013 so actually may have taken inspiration from BEB. Even still, I suspect they’d be different textures due to the different proportions.
Jacqueline, I’ve been enjoying this blog for years. Michelle has always been very careful to cite sources. I think your “cherry picked” comment is baseless at best and libelous at worst. You owe her an apology. She is, in my opinion, one of the best food bloggers out there and rocks it on a daily basis. Michelle, thank you for the trustworthy recipes (of which I have so many favorites I’ve lost count), your gorgeous photos, your selflessness in inviting us into your home and your kindness.
I’ve always lusted after the Momofuku cakes and this has just spurred me on to make one even more. It does look a little fiddly, but I imagine it’s perfect for a creative day in the kitchen, or for when you just NEED great cake!