This recipe was quite popular in the UK at the turn of the 20th Century, but it is originally taken from “The American Cook Book”, (published by John Leng & Co. in the late 1920s or early 1930s). The cake hails from Missouri and was perhaps made for the “Veiled Prophet Fair”, (established in 1878) which became known after 1981 as the Fair St. Louis. It certainly has the look and feel of a 4th of July celebratory cake, which we would know as ‘Fairing Food’ in Britain and Ireland. As it stands this is a perfect Birthday, Halloween or Bonfire Night treat, particularly with lit ‘sparklers’ or candles pushed in to decorate.
Chocolate Marshmallow Cake Recipe
For the Chocolate Cake
- 100g chocolate (good quality, about 60%-70% cocoa)
- 250ml milk
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder (good quality)
- 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
- 400g plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs (yolk and whites separated – & add the 2 yolks from the icing recipe below)
- 100g shortening, softened and cubed (refined vegetable oil: Crisco / Cookeen etc)
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp sea salt
For The Marshmallow Icing
- 150g marshmallows (for the glaze)
- 200g sugar
- 50 ml water
- 2 eggs (whites only – use the yolks in the recipe above)
- 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Decorating the cake
- 50g mini marshmallows for decoration
- optional: lit ‘sparklers’ (keep safe!) or candles
Grease two small, shallow cake tins of the same size.
In two mixing bowls separate 4 eggs – 4 yolks in one bowl, 4 whites in another. All the egg yolks are used in the cake, while Half the eggs whites will be used in the cake, and the other half will be used in the marshmallow icing.
In a large mixing bowl which is suspended (not touching the water) over a gently boiling saucepan of water (or double boiler) add the broken dark chocolate pieces and 2 tablespoons of milk. Leave to melt, stir once or twice.
Beat the egg yolks and into the mixing bowl with the egg yolks whisk in the remaining milk, then the cocoa powder, then the instant coffee. When the chocolate over the steaming water has melted gradually stir in this mixture of egg yolks, milk, cocoa powder and instant coffee.
Over the gently steaming water stir this chocolate mixture until everything is thoroughly mixed in and begins to thicken. When everything is mixed together stir in the vegetable shortening. When this has melted add and stir in the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved stir in the vanilla extract. Finally take the mixing bowl off the heat and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Whisk the egg whites in their bowl until stiffened – this will take a few minutes.
When the chocolate mixture is cooler (after a few minutes) fold in the sifted flour, salt and baking powder to make a cake batter – then gently fold in half of the stiffened egg white mixture, retaining the air when folding – reserve the other half of the egg whites for the marshmallow icing. Pour this cake batter equally into the two prepared cake tins.
Bake the cakes in an oven at 180C for 35 to 45 minutes, check after 35 minutes to see if the cakes are baked by pushing a skewer into the centre of the cakes to see if it comes out clean and hot. Once baked remove the cake tins from the oven and allow to cool.
Marshmallow Icing (Glaze)
In a heavy bottomed saucepan pour in the sugar, water and white wine vinegar. As you bring this slowly up to the boil stir until the sugar dissolves. When at the boil stop stirring, turn the heat down and allow the the sugar to gently boil for a few minutes.
After a few minutes turn the heat up and boil the syrup rapidly on a rolling boil for two minutes, (to get to the ‘soft crack’ stage) watch it does not catch and burn. Roll the syrup around the pan by lifting it up by the handle off the heat if it starts to catch and turn the heat down a little. After two minutes turn the heat right down and allow to cool slightly.
Once cooler add in the marshmallows to the sugar syrup and stir them in until they have melted and gone gooey over a low heat. Once melted stir in the remaining stiffened egg whites, then take off the heat to make a thick, oozing cake icing (slightly thicker than a glaze) – allow to cool. Place in the fridge to thicken the icing mixture if a little runny, but do not allow to harden.
Making The Cake
Turn out the two Chocolate Cakes from their tins. Place one cake upside down on a plate, (use a bread knife to cut the top off the cake if it is domed to make it sit flat). Spread over half of the marshmallow icing, scatter over some mini marshmallows, then place the other cake on top (the right way up) to make a ‘sandwich’. Spread over the top of this cake the remaining marshmallow icing – sprinkle over some whole mini marshmallows as decoration – if looking for the wow factor add on top of the cake, pushing them in, ‘sparklers’ or candles, and light them just before serving. This Chocolate Marshmallow Cake should be eaten on the day of baking, but it can last a day if kept in an air-tight cake tin – the chocolate cakes before decorating can be made up and frozen well in advance.
The American Cook Book published 1920s / 1930s
Missouri Chocolate Marshmallow Cake
Ingredients: 1/4 lb Chocolate Powder; 1 Cup Milk; 3 Cups Pastry Flour; 2 Eggs; 1/3 Cup Shortening; 4 Teaspoons Baking Powder; 2 Cups Sugar; 1 Teaspoon Salt; 1 Teaspoon Vanilla; 1 Cup Cold Coffee.
Method: Melt chocolate in double boiler. Mix slightly-beaten egg yolks with milk, add to chocolate, cook and stir in double boiler until it becomes thick. When partly cool add shortening, then sugar gradually, next vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in stiffly beaten egg-whites. Add coffee; then mix with flour, baking powder and salt. Bake in two well greased shallow cake pans in a moderate oven 35 to 40 minutes. When partly cool cover with marshmallow icing … [see below]
Ingredients: 1/2 lb marshmallows; 1 1/2 Cups Sugar; 3/4 Cup Water; 2 Whites of Eggs; 1/2 Tablespoon Vinegar; 1/4 tsp salt.
Method: Mix sugar, water, and 1/2 tablespoon vinegar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir after mixture starts to boil. Cover tightly for the first 5 minutes of boiling to steam off any crystals of sugar which may have adhered to the sides of the pan. Uncover [add the marshmallows] and boil gently until [the marshmallows have melted and] the syrup spins a thread. Remove from the fire and gradually pour this syrup on to the stiffly beaten egg whites, to which a few grains of salt has been added, beating vigorously and continuously. Continue beating after all the syrup has been added, until the mixture stiffens. Spread on cake.