This 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.
The 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!
- 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
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¾ cup melted butter
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Pineapple slices
- Maraschino cherries
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.