Recipe Rewind #3 – Mom’s Marshmallow Cake

Mom's Marshmallow CakeThis is a super-special edition of Recipe Rewind, because a certain someone (ie. me) just celebrated a birthday. My thirty-second birthday, actually, which isn’t a particularly special or significant number… but hey, since when do I need an excuse to celebrate?

Since I’m firmly entrenched in my early 30s now, I guess that means I’m officially a grownup, not that I particularly feel like one on most days. (Except when I catch one of the neighbourhood kids running across my lawn… then I feel like an old curmudgeon, as I shake my fist at them and yell at them to get off my damn lawn)

Anyway, it only seemed appropriate that I should celebrate with a cake that is as un-grownup as I am.

My mother doesn’t remember where this recipe originally came from because the original is long gone – like many of my childhood favourites, it exists only as a battered index card covered in my mother’s precise handwriting (considering doctors are notorious for bad handwriting, my mom’s is surprisingly tidy and legible). Since my internet searches came up dry and no one outside my family has ever heard of a marshmallow cake, I figured it was important to share this with the world, lest it that one little index card somehow disappear… because if it did, the magic of marshmallow cake would be forever lost.

Pineapple SlicesThe funny thing is that my mother swears she only made it a handful of times at most, and yet, one whiff of the pineapple-and-sherry aroma of the filling is enough to send me on a nostalgic trip of Proustian proportions. It’s like my childhood is contained somewhere in that smell – jelly shoes, skinned knees, Cabbage Patch Kids, scrunchies and all.

Whatever its mysterious origins, one thing’s for sure: this cake was probably born in the 1970s, just like disco music, shag rugs and yours truly. I love it in all its kitschy glory, from the decorative garnish of canned pineapple slices and maraschino cherries, to the fluffy marshmallow filling below with its sweet, creamy texture, and right on down to the graham cracker crumb crust that holds it all up. It may not be all trendy or hip any more, but then again, I’m pretty sure I’m not all that trendy and hip any more either.

Now get off my lawn, you darn kids!


Gateau aux Guimauves (aka Mom's Marshmallow Cake)
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
This cake is a masterpiece of 1970s kitsch, just like disco music, shag rugs and yours truly. It combines a fluffy marshmallow filling flavoured with sherry, a graham cracker crumb crust, and a delightfully retro garnish of canned pineapple slices and maraschino cherries.
Marshmallow Filling:
  • 1 bag (8 oz) mini marshmallows
  • ½ cup + 4 tbsp sherry, divided
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 pkg (1/2 oz) unflavoured gelatin
  • 1½ cups whipped cream
Graham Crust:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¾ cup melted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Pineapple slices
  • Maraschino cherries
Prepare the Filling:
  1. In a saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine the marshmallows, ½ cup sherry and pineapple juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin onto remaining 4 tbsp sherry. Stir until combined. Add to the hot marshmallow mixture, stirring until the gelatine is completed dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Make the Crust:
  1. In the meantime, prepare the crust by mixing together the graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a lightly greased 8" springform pan.
  2. Once the marshmallow mixture has cooled to room temperature, gently fold in the whipped cream. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust, smoothing off the top with a spatula.
  3. Garnish with pineapple slices and maraschino cherries in a decorative pattern. (It might be tempting to skip the topping, please don't... it not only gives the cake its mega-kitsch flair, but also provides a much-needed dose of acidity that keeps the cake from being overwhelmingly sweet).
  4. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the filling to set completely. Before serving, run a knife along the edge of the cake and then carefully unlatch and remove the springform.



  1. Lo says

    Oh, gosh — this cake brings back memories! It's so very lovely and retro. And it's totally a throw-back to the 70's.

    Happy, happy birthday!! And here's to many, many more!

  2. Carolyn Jung says

    I was just watching Nigella on TV the other day, making quick chocolate mousse using melted mini marshmallows. Who knew these little guys figured in so many desserts like this. Sneaky and wonderful.

  3. Lawyer Loves Lunch says

    Ah, the 70's. A good decade indeed. This kinda reminds me of a pina colada cake. I may throw in some coconut just for fun. Oh, and a very happy birthday, of course :)

  4. denise @ quickies on the dinner table says

    Yay the 70s!!! My favourite decade!!!

    Just looking at that is almost making me teary with nostalgia *sniff* I used to whip up something pretty close, only without marshmallows, with my cousin. I don't think ours was very good, but we never had leftovers LOL

    Happy Birthday Isabelle :) and thanks for the memories!

  5. Brie: Le Grand Fromage says

    happy birthday! it's funny how a dish you had during childhood, even if only a few times, can make such a lasting memory. this cake is pretty cool – never seen one like it!

  6. Cara says

    Happy birthday to you! marshmallows and graham crackers, that sounds like a perfect way to celebrate!

  7. islandeat says

    Hi, Isabelle. Happy birthday and congrats on FB Top 9! I think it's great to be doing family recipes; I am doing a series based on cards of my late grandmother I recently discovered. It is really fun.



  8. grace says

    happy birthday! grown-up, shmown-up. :)
    i'm a true marshmallow aficionado, yet i've not seen this before–i love it!

  9. Jun Belen says

    Happy birthday! This looks yummy. Going to put it on my to-bake-list!! Thanks for the post!

  10. Ruby says

    Happy Birthday! I wholeheartedly about the 30s being the new 20s (because I just turned 40 and that means I'm really only 30). I love the kitsch look of this cake and can imagine it being served up by a mom in pedal pushers and a hair scarf. Fantastic!

  11. Belinda @zomppa says

    Happy birthday! We don't ever have to grow up…jelly shoes, jelly bracelets…remember charm necklaces and Garbage PAIL Kids??

  12. Anna says

    Happy birthday Isabelle, don't worry on being an adult, 30s are the new 20s now. That's what I keep telling myself. LOL The cake sounds and looks delicious, what could go wrong with cake and marshmallow married together. Yummmm!

Crumb Divider