If you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a ‘go big or go home’ baker.
I’m usually not in the least intimidated to try a baking recipe. In fact, I love the challenge and the possibility it might actually turn out exactly as I’d hoped. (Which means at about 90% of what the original recipe is and about 80% of what the pictures look like.)
So, when I was planning a dessert to take to my mom for Mother’s Day, I really wanted to try something big. And this recipe I found on Pinterest certainly fit the bill.
Midnight Mint Cake, adapted from Rock Recipes
2 c sugar
1 c cake flour
1 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c dutch process cocoa
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1 c black coffee
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes.
Pour into 2 greased and floured 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
When completely cooled, split the two layers horizontally with a serrated bread knife to make 4 layers
4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1 c butter
1 t mint extract
3-4 T milk, depending on your preferred frosting consistency
Using an electric mixer on low, mix the butter and icing sugar together until the butter and shortening break up and get evenly dispersed throughout the sugar in small pieces. The mixture will still appear dry at this point. This stage ensures even distribution and prevents butter or shortening lumps in your frosting.
Add mint extract and milk. When the icing reaches the desired consistently continue to beat it on high-speed for 5 minutes to incorporate more air into the frosting to make it lighter and fluffier. Frost the middle and sides evenly with the frosting and chill the cake for several hours before adding the chocolate ganache glaze.
1 c dark chocolate chips
1/4 c whipping cream
1 t mint extract
In a double boiler melt together all ingredients. Stir this mix constantly and get it off the heat as soon as the chocolate is melted. You do not want this mixture hot but just luke warm; as close to the melting point as possible. Let it cool down if it gets too hot.
Working as quickly as you can, ( a lazy susan is a big help if you have one) pour the ganache directly in the center of the cake, and then using an icing spatula spread it evenly over the top of the cake, letting it drip off the sides.
Store the cake in the refrigerator but take it out at least an hour before serving to let the frosting warm up to room temperature.
I’m going to admit, right of the bat, that I was a little worried about making this cake. Mostly because the last time I made a layered cake, it did not go well at all. But that was many, many months ago – and I feel like I’ve learned a ton since then.
The cake part was a snap – until I went to cut my rounds in half. I asked Hubs for any advice, and his snarky reply was to make sure I cut them horizontally. (Ha, ha, so not funny, Hubs.) I tried my best to cut them evenly and level-y, but let’s just say that did not quite happen. It wasn’t horrible, just not very equal.
Next, it was time to make the frosting. The original recipe called for 8 cups of powdered sugar, which I was pretty sure would not fit in my mixer. So, I halved everything – and also reduced the amount of mint extract. (I was looking for a hint of mint flavor, rather than an overwhelming taste.) And the half recipe made just the right amount of frosting (in my opinion).
(Oh, and I still ended up exploding powdered sugar all over the place. It’s just inevitable.)
When I went to frost the layers, I came across another problem…my frosting was really sticky, and kept pulling up parts of the cake. I added a touch more milk and remixed, but it was still sticky. Again, I added milk, still sticky. At that point, I just decided to spread away. (So you will notice little flecks of cake in the frosting – I say it just gives it character, right?)
After letting the cake and frosting cool, I made my ganache. Again, I lowered the amount of mint extract (this time I only used half the amount called for in the original recipe). It never got really smooth, but I was worried about it getting too hot…so I just spread it on the top.
Now, my cake was not nearly as pretty as the cake I was hoping for…but everything came out (mostly) great, and it stayed assembled together. So I consider this a big win.
And the flavor was really, really good, too. It was still rather minty – which makes me wonder what it would’ve tasted like had I used all the called-for mint. The chocolate cake was dark and rich (though I think it got a smidge dried out in the refrigerator). Now, the ganache – the ganache was simply fantastic! Though not pretty, it was a perfect balance of the chocolate and mint – and just took the cake over the top.
I got rave reviews from the whole family, including my mom – with the ganache getting the most comments.
So I went big – and it worked!
(Next time I’ve got to try one of these gorgeous layer cakes featured on Sweet Samsations…but maybe not for another couple of months.)
Hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day!