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September 7, 2016

Mint Chocolate Cake

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Are you ready for a long, rambling tangent? I have made far more cakes than I have posted here. It’s because cakes take me all day to put together; I typically bake and assemble when I get home from work (so it’s 90% done before I go to bed), and then do the last bit of work on it the next morning before I head into the office.

All of this leaves no time for meticulous staging and photographing, which involves clearing my usually cluttered dining table (which doubles as my desk), messing with the blinds and some bent white cardboard, and standing on stools or chairs, or stools on chairs. But I don’t have time for any of that when it comes to weekday cakes. That’s why most of the cakes you see on this site are poorly photographed, all done in a rush and usually with my iPhone tilted at some bizarre angle. In fact, sometimes I have to actually make a cake twice for two separate occasions to get one decent set of photos out of it. #FoodBloggerProblems, right?

All of this is to say that yes, the photos of this mint chocolate cake are bad. The composition is weird and so is the coloring, but that’s what happens when I’m trying to snap pictures in 3 minutes on a dreary Seattle morning. But trust me, it’s worth making.

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Maybe someday I’ll find a reason to make this particular cake again, and then I can set aside some time to get good, proper photos of it so you can see the texture and color of the buttercream. But until then, just make this for yourself and see!

NOTE: For the sake of simplicity, every component for this cake (except the glaze) came out of the same cookbook. However, I like my chocolate cakes a lot richer and chocolate-ier than how this one came out — especially since the recipe is, in my opinion, unnecessarily fussy for what you end up with. I’ve included the exact recipe I used here, but I’d suggest subbing the chocolate cake part with whatever your go-to chocolate cake recipe may be.

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Mint Chocolate Cake
From Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas’s Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery

Yield: Two 8″ cake rounds
Cook Time: 45 minutes (not including cooling and assembly)

For the cake:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa content recommended)
12 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar (375 g)
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (360 g)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups 2% milk, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the peppermint buttercream filling:
8 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup 2% milk, room temperature
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (you can add more later if you want a more intense mint flavor)
5 cups confectioners’ sugar (600 g)
green food coloring (optional)

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa content recommended)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tbs 2% milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (300 g)

For the chocolate glaze:
3/4 cup chocolate chips (or you can keep using the bittersweet chocolate)
3 tbs butter
1 tbs light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Optional:
Two packages of Andes mints for decoration

Make the cake:

Preheat oven to 375*F. Grease and line two 8″ round cake pans with parchment.

Roughly break the chocolate into small pieces and melt over a double boiler (metal or glass bowl that fits snugly on top of a pot of simmering water). Set aside to cool while you do the next steps.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl until fluffy, then beat this into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Add in the melted chocolate and beat until thoroughly combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. And in yet another bowl, stir the milk and vanilla extract together. Alternating between the dry and wet ingredients, pour about a third of each into the creamed butter mixture, mixing well between each addition. Set aside.

In one more bowl, whisk the egg whites until it holds soft peaks. Gently fold this into the flour mixture until thoroughly combined, being careful to not overmix or deflate the batter.

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake on the middle rack for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes in the pans before running a knife along the edges and turning the cakes out to complete cooling on the rack.

Make the peppermint buttercream filling:

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, milk, peppermint extract, and half of the sugar until smooth. Gradually add in the rest of the sugar, beating until smooth.

At this point, taste the frosting to determine whether or not you want to add any more peppermint. I ended up adding 1/4 tsp more. Beat thoroughly until completely smooth. You can also add in some green food coloring at this point too.

Make the chocolate buttercream frosting:

Roughly break the chocolate into small pieces and melt over a double boiler (metal or glass bowl that fits snugly on top of a pot of simmering water). Set aside to cool while you do the next steps.

In another bowl, beat together the butter, milk, vanilla, and sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate and beat again until smooth. If the mixture seems too runny, just keep beating it until it begins to stiffen up enough to be spreadable.

Make the chocolate glaze:

Melt all the ingredients over a double boiler (metal or glass bowl that fits snugly on top of a pot of simmering water). Whisk until thoroughly combined. Use right away.

Assemble the cake:

Halve the cake rounds so you end up with four halves. I usually make a three-layer cake and keep one half for myself (for “testing,” you see), but if you’re very judicious with your frosting, you can definitely make a four-layer cake. Spread an equal amount of peppermint buttercream between all the cake layers and stack them. Cover the outside of the cake with the chocolate buttercream.

If using, arrange the Andes mints along the bottom and roughly chop up the rest.

While the glaze is still hot, pour this on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to quickly and carefully push the glaze to the edges to get those nice “drips.” This glaze is very finicky and will turn grainy and unwieldy if it’s even just a little too cool while you’re working with it, so move quickly! Sprinkle the chopped Andes mints on top.

Let the cake rest for at least an hour or up to overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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