Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Recipe: Mint Cake

At our 3rd Lamb Supper Club, the talented Apollina Spoto made this amazing Mint Cake for the party.   Apollina was nice enough to share the recipe with us.  Enjoy!

Cake: Adapted from Epicurious 
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant-espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs

Ganache filling and glaze
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 24 oz. bag bittersweet chocolate morsels  

To make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. I used three 9-inch round cake pans that were buttered, lined with wax paper, buttered again and then dusted with flour.  The layers will be thin which adds to the moisture of the cake when layered with the ganache.
  • Mix water, cocoa, and espresso powder until smooth, then whisk in milk and vanilla. Separately, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer on high until fluffy; add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture in batches, start and end with the flour and mix on low speed until just combined.
  • Divide batter among pans and smooth them out a bit. Bake in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (I keep a watchful eye throughout baking). Cool for a bit in pans on a rack then invert onto racks, remove paper, and cool completely.

Make ganache while cakes bake:
Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan then remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate until smooth. Place a little less than half the ganache in a bowl and chill, stirring occasionally, until thickened but spreadable (about an hour or so). This is the "chilled ganache" that will be used for the layers. If ganache becomes too thick, let stand at room temperature until slightly softened. Let the remaining ganache stand at room temperature until barely lukewarm, this will be poured over the cake.
Assemble cake:
Place bottom layer on a cake stand and spoon dollops of chilled ganache on it and spread evenly. Repeat with each additional layer.  Pour lukewarm ganache over cake, allowing it to drip down sides and then spread over sides and smooth the edges. Freeze to set ganache, about half hour or more.
While the ganache sets make the mint frosting...
Mint Frosting: (I always double my frosting recipes because I hate running out of frosting, especially when it's colored. This is just the regular 3 cups(ish) recipe, feel free to double)
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • Half stick butter, softened (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint oil (Found at Whole Foods. It's potent, start at 1/4 and add more to desired mintiness)
  • Mint food coloring (I used Wilton's "Leaf Green" color gel)

Cream shortening and butter with a mixer, then add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, beating well on medium speed and scraping sides and bottom of bowl often. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in peppermint oil and then gel coloring (start with just a little and add until desired mint color is achieved). Refrigerate until ready to start decorating. 
To decorate: After the ganache is set on the cake. Apply a coat of the mint frosting all over the cake (second crumb coating if you will). Then put the rest of the frosting (as much as you can fit) into a piping bag fitted with a "drop flower" icing tip. I used a small Wilton 106 tip (I also think a Wilton 1F is so pretty).  Place tip directly on cake, squeeze out a flower, release pressure and pull bag away from cake.  I Googled “drop flower tutorial” and watched a video. You can add a little twist while squeezing if you want too, play around and see what kind of look you prefer.  I just piped randomly all over the cake and covered it with flowers. Then I tossed on some mint colored sprinkles/sugar that I found at Michael's in their spring/seasonal section, it looks like this. Too pretty.
**You can make the cake a day in advance (what I did) - just cool the cakes, wrap them well and freeze overnight. I took them out the next morning, unwrapped them and allowed to cool on the counter until I was ready to start frosting. Also, I always throw a layer of sugar on the cake plate/pedestal and then place the bottom cake layer on top. It adds a little something special to the bottom layer, prevents it from sticking and it's what my Mom always did:)

Enjoy your little slice of Spring Mint!

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