Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Who doesn't love cake? A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff offers cake.

Groovy Girl recently had a very big birthday.  She turned 12 on the 12th of September.  She's growing up...I dislike it, I love it-it depends on the day.  She's taking 7th grade in stride, a few bumps along the way.  For example, she forgot her phone at school, in a classroom.  Couldn't get a hold of her for about 35 minutes after school.  So frustrating yet we joked about it on our way home. We walked home from school hand in hand and then shared a cupcake when we got home.  Much of life is grand.

Back to the major birthday party.  For two years she's been awaiting this golden birthday and she'd requested a hotel sleepover party for this illustrious event.  We went hotel shopping in early August to check out their lobbies, their pools, and how they made us feel.  The Hilton Garden Inn won hands down as the pool was warm and they had a lovely outdoor area with twinkling lights and fire pits.  The deal was sealed.  I made two reservations.  The price was pretty reasonable.

I asked her if she wanted cupcakes from our local cupcakery that is so popular.  She said "NO" flat out. "We always make my cake, mama!" she said.  I asked her to look for a recipe.  Weeks went by and then as I was reading an Iowa Children's Choice possible title A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff I found the cake!  It spoke to me because it combined some of her favorite things...chocolate and more chocolate and she loves s'mores! I rushed upstairs to share my discovery and she was like "mm-maybe-" followed by a "maybe" and a little shoulder shrug.  Hmmm.  I stuck with it though and we gave it a try.

Will's S'more Cake
-a cake that always disappears quickly-

For the cake:
small spoonful of flour, for preparing the cake pans
14-oz package of graham crackers (about 26 crackers)
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter (2 sticks) **always use unsalted as it is fresher** at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp good vanilla
1 cup milk, at room temperature

For the frosting:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
pinch of salt

For the filling:
1 large cup marshmallow fluff
(I did NOT say this cake was healthy in anyway)

For the topping:
extra graham crackers and/or mini-marshmallows **she opted for studding it with chocolate chips**

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease the bottoms of two 8-in. round cake pans with butter.  Using the cake pans as a template, trace two circles onto wax paper (I used parchment paper) and cut them out, placing once circle inside each pan.  Sprinkle the inside of the pans lightly with flour, and tap the pans to distribute it evenly.

2. Place graham crackers in a blender or food processor, and grind until crushed to a fine powder.  (Alternatively, place the graham crackers in a plastic ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin which is exactly what Groovy Girl did as it sounded more fun!)  Measure out 3 cups of the cracker powder into a medium bowl, and mix with the baking powder.  Set aside.  Reserve the remaining graham cracker powder to decorate the top of the cake, if desired.

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer, starting on low speed then increasing to medium-high, until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.

4. Reducing the speed on the mixer to low, add about a third of the graham racker mixture to the batter, combining well.  Add about half of the milk and combine.  Then add another third of the graham cracker mixture, the last of the milk, and then the last of the cracker mix, combining well each time.

5. Pour the batter into the two pans, smoothing the surface.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

6. While the cakes are baking, make the frosting; In a double boiler or a heatproof boil fitted into a saucepan of simmering water, carefully melt the chocolate chips over low heat, stirring often.  Remove from heat and allow to cool, about 10-15 minutes.

7. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer fitted with clean beaters on medium speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Reducing the speed on the mixer to low, gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth, another 2-3 minutes.  Add the cooled chocolate, sour cream, and pinch of salt, and beat to combine.

8.  When the cakes are completely cooled, place one cake layer on a plate and spread marshmallow fluff on top.  If fluff is difficult to spread, microwave it in a glass bowl first for 10-20 seconds and stir.)  Place the second cake layer on top and frost the whole cake with the chocolate frosting.  Decorate with graham cracker crumbs or mini marshmallows.   (44-46)

Almost everyone at the party loved the cake, the flavor was great and it was nice and dense.  I would make this one again with some minor adjustments.  We brought part of the cake home and we've all been sneaking bites here and there and we've also shared a few pieces Grandpa Roger style; in a bowl with some milk.  The best. Thanks Dad.  Miss you.

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff has some memorable moments but the plot was a bit scattered for me. The cakes and Cady's story were the very best part though and I wanted Cady to find a good permanent home with Miss Mallory.  Cady has a knack for baking and it was fun to read about how she created cakes for those around her.  Thank you Ms. Graff for giving us a wonderful birthday recipe!


jama said...

I started this book and haven't finished yet. I know what you mean about a scattered plot. Nice to know the cake recipe turned out well! Happy Birthday to your daughter!

Beth F said...

Oh man that cake sounds awesome. Who doesn't like Smores? And what a great idea for that special party ... the hotel sounds perfect.

Peaceful Reader said...

I loved her other book Umbrella Summer more than this one as this one has so much going on and I lost track. Maybe kids will enjoy it! The cakes were a great addition though.

Jackie McGuinness said...

Can I have a hotel birthday with my BFF? Sounds like fun.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

The S'Mores cake sounds absolutely awesome!! Glad it was a great birthday party and enough cake left over to take home and snack on. ;)