I've been dreaming of this cake for a couple of weeks now, but had to wait until today to finish it off for a couple of reasons. First, I was in Liverpool for almost a week at the start of December and didn't have any of my cake decorating stuff with me, so making a proper cake was out of the question (instead I made gingerbread, which I'll tell you about soon, and a chocolate log).
When I got back from Liverpool I only had four days until my journey back to Plymouth, so there was no time to make and eat a cake. When I finally got back to Plymouth on Saturday I made the cake before realising that there was no mint flavouring in the house and I couldn't easily reach a shop because I live in the middle of nowhere and the car I drive here was neither insured or taxed. It was also questionable whether the car would even work, since it had been off the road for almost a year. I decided to freeze the cake until I could make the icing and decorate it.
Finally, yesterday, tax disc and insurance certificate in hand, I made it into the civilised world (just barely - the car emitted some worrying fumes from the bonnet whilst in traffic). In the end I decided to use Creme de Menthe instead of peppermint flavouring - because why shouldn't I spike my cake with alcohol? It's Christmas time, after all!
The batter for this cake tasted amazing, so I knew I was off to a good start. The Creme de Menthe adds a great colour to the icing so I didn't have to add any food colouring. The mint icing goes well with the chocolate cake, and the alcohol gives a bit of a bite to it, which is certainly no bad thing. This is definitely a good cake to make at this time of year. I had some ganache left over from the Cinnamon Biscuits I made at the weekend, so I used it as a second filling for the cake.
In other news, this is my 100th post - how exciting!
For the cake:
- 200g Butter
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 150g Plain Flour
- 50g Cocoa Powder
- 1 Tsp Baking Powder
- 2 Eggs
- 50mL Milk
For the ganache:
- 50g Milk Chocolate
- 20mL Water
For the mint Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 500g Butter (this must be good quality - low fat spread won't do here!)
- 90g Caster Sugar
- 6 Egg Whites
- 50mL Creme de Menthe
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Line two 9" cake tins with parchment paper.
- To make the chocolate cake, cream the butter and sugar together , then beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Seive the flour, cocoa and baking powder into the batter and fold in.
- Add enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.
- Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool, then wrap in cling film and freeze for at least four hours. This will make the cakes less crumbly when it comes to icing them.
- Make the ganache by melting the chocolate with the water, then leaving it to cool until it has thickened.
- To make the mint Swiss meringue icing, put the egg whites and sugar in a bowl and place over a pan that is 1/3 filled with water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water).
- Place the pan over a medium heat and whisk the whites gently with a fork until the sugar has dissolved - this can be checked by dipping your fingers in and rubbing them together; if the sugar hasn't dissolved you'll feel the grains.
- Pour the egg white mixture into a cold mixing bowl and whisk to form stiff peaks. The bottom of the bowl should be cool.
- Break the butter into small chunks and make sure it is soft enough to push a knife through easily.
- Whisk the butter into the egg whites, a chunk at a time, until all of the butter has been used up. At first the mixture will become a bit soupy, but after about 3/4 of the butter has been added it should start to thicken and after all of it has been added you should have a silky smooth buttercream.
- Whisk the Creme de Menthe into the buttercream until it is fully incorporated. If the buttercream seems to pale, add a little bit of green gel food colouring to enhance the colour.
- Place one cake on a serving dish, then spread with a large dollop of buttercream. Cover with the ganache.
- Place the second cake on top and dollop more of the icing on top. Spread it over the entire cake.
On a side note, I'm really hoping I get a better camera for Christmas - I'm just about at the end of my tether with the one I currently use. It blurs pictures very easily and it takes a lot of work to make the pictures good quality, though to be fair to it I used the same camera on my Italian exchange in 2005, so it's lasted a long time. In the mean time, please bear with me when my photographs aren't clear, or if the colouring is a bit off.
I'm entering this into my monthly challenge, Baking With Spirit. The challenge this month is to bake with whatever you like, though a festive theme is preferred. I associate mint-chocolate combinations with Christmas, so I think this falls into the category.