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Monday, June 29, 2009

Lethal Peppermint Chocolate Cake

This was for the preschool fun fair cake walk. My friend's mom won it, got a knife from the school kitchen, brought it out to a picnic table, and starting cutting into it and serving it up to her grandkids on the spot. It was a beautiful, gratifying thing to watch from my nearby perch at the bake sale.

Below you've got three recipes: Chocolate Ganache for the outside, chocolate cake, and Peppermint Buttercream Frosting for between the layers. Make the ganache first so it can cool while the cake cooks. While the cake is cooking or cooling, make the peppermint frosting. Then be sure to inhale deeply while assembling (and lick your fingers - no one will know!)

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 T Peppermint Schapps or 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1. Place the cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring. Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate (yum!) in a large mixing bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate (yum yum!) Stir until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the extract.

2. Let ganache stand at room temperature for 4 hours, or chill it until it thickens and is spreadable.

Chocolate Cake
Even with generous grease and flour, sometimes my layer cakes fall apart trying to get them out of a pan, so I usually do this extra step that's worth the effort. Trace cake pans on parchment paper, then cut out circles slightly smaller than the tracing. Place inside cake pan after greasing/flouring, and pour batter on top. Comes out every time, then all you have to do is peel the parchment off the cake.

1 pkg plain devil's food cake mix
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with shortening and dust with flour. Set aside.

2. Place cake mix, cocoa powder, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 1 minute. Stop, scrape sides, increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more until thick and well combined. Divide batter between prepared pans, smoothing it out with rubber spatula. Place pans in oven side by side.

3. Bake cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with finger and just start to pull away from the sides of the pan, 28-30 minutes. Remove pans from oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert them again onto another rack so that the cakes are right-side-up. Cool completely, 30 minutes more.

4. Prepare peppermint frosting.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
This recipe is just for filling between the layers; double it to frost a whole cake.

4 T (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup finely crushed peppermint candy
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 to 1 1/2 T milk
1/4 to 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the peppermint candy, sugar, milk and extract. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated, 1 minute. Increase to medium speed and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend in more milk if frosting is too stiff.2. Place one cake layer, right side up, on serving platter or cake stand. Spread the top with peppermint frosting. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer and frost the top and sides of cake with chocolate ganache that has cooled and is spreadable. Work with clean, smooth strokes. Chill the cake until ready to serve.

I decorated the top with Junior Mints left over from the surprise mint cookies I was also making for the bake sale. Other garnish ideas: more crushed peppermint candy, crushed regular or mint Oreos, York peppermint patties, fresh mint leaves, shaved chocolate, drizzled melted white chocolate. I don't usually get too creative decorating cakes, but an empty canvas like a ganached layer cake calls for something!Recipes from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrne

1 comment:

MiaKatia said...

I have been on the VGP looking for a new and fantastic dessert to make for Forrest's birthday (we have settled on the Coconut Brownie Swirl) and I just about died laughing when I read "lethal peppermint chocolate cake" because Forrest is allergic to peppermint and he will sneeze for half an hour after he eats it. It is funny to watch.

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