Hippolyte Cake

by Min Merrell

Our friend and neighbor Sidney McAlister accepted our invitation to celebrate his birthday over dinner the other night. He and Elizabeth are renovating and the dust has yet to settle over there, so they were extra eager to accept.

When I asked Sidney what kind of birthday cake he would like me to make he said, “Hippolyte cake. Like my mother makes.”  The quick Elizabeth sensed puzzlement. “I’ll get you the recipe.” Great, because I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about.  

Hippolyte is a long-gone brand of marshmallow creme, but a quick look at the ingredients in this cake and it could just as easily have been created to honor Hippolyta, of Greek mythology, the Amazonian goddess with the magic girdle. You Shakespeare fans know that Hippolyta also makes an appearance in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but let’s stick with the marshmallow brand for present purposes.

Turns out that Hippolyte Cake and Mississippi Mud Cake have much in common. Sidney’s mother’s cake recipe is similar to the old-fashioned Texas Sheet Cake that uses the boiling water method. It an extra-moist, fantastic chocolate cake. She piles it up with a thick layer of marshmallow creme topped with chocolate icing. The icing verges on fudge candy and hardens nicely over the marshmallow layer below.

Experienced cooks can use the softball method for testing the boiling syrup, but I much prefer the no-anxiety method of a candy thermometer. The other trick is to beat the tar out of the icing as it cools to prevent it from crystallizing. This is a wonderful family recipe that I’m glad to have and share. Funny that “Hippolyte” is one thing that The Google hasn’t done much homework on. 

Hippolyte’s close cousin, the Mississippi Mud Cake, is all over the web. The cake in these recipes is often more like a dense brownie, and the frosting is easy to make by just stirring up the ingredients. Some prefer to use mini-marshmallows rather than marshmallow creme.

Both cakes will certainly provide a generous sugar buzz. Sidney approved heartily and enjoyed his birthday cake. I used a small jar of marshmallow creme this time so when you give this a try be sure to use a big jar of marshmallow fluff, or two of marshmallow creme, for an extra-thick layer of marshmallow.


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1 comment

Sidney McAlister February 23, 2013 - 10:17 am

Sissy would love to come over to give extra pointers. Her ability to get the layers just right is amazing – sister Cayce has the touch too. With some practice, vanilla ice cream, just the right temperature and the day is done…..It’s soooo good!! Let’s make it an annual event. Cheers, to great friends!

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