Monday, March 23, 2009

Julie's Surprise Chocolate Mint Cake

My Mother's Birthday is on St. Patrick's Day. As a result of this she has been doomed to have green (or sometimes rainbow) Birthday cakes for most of her life.

However, I personally think that it's rather fun. There are many foods and flavors that can be green, and there's always green food coloring which can make non-green associated flavors green. I just think it makes a fun Birth date because the creative possibilities for cakes are actually endless . . . At least, in my opinion.

I have had many fond memories from when I was a little girl, of planning or seeing my older sister's plan cakes for my Mom. One year she had a big heart shaped layer cake with a rainbow of frosting that ended with a crock of those metallic gold ball sprinkles that happen to be edible. And of course she's had many green frosted cakes. I think part of the excitement was due to the fact that this was one time during the year when we got to design a cake, because for other people's birthday's my Mom usually made the cake.

When I was about 12-14 or so, I once made my mom a scenic bundt cake. It was inspired by the song/poem All Things Bright And Beautiful, because I knew my mom liked that song. It had blue sky frosting at the top and down the center, then around the top edge where 'purple headed mountains', and beneath those I painted (with frosting) a river rushing by, and trees and flowers and I believe I also had a sunrise/sunset on one side peeping between the mountains. I really need to find a picture of that since I'm pretty sure we took one. Anyway, I honestly think that was the last time I got to make my Mom's cake until now.

There are many cooks in my family, and as such for many years now they have usually volunteered to make my Mother's cake, but this year I thought of it about a week in advance and immediately called my Dad to ask if anyone had volunteered to make it yet. Lucky for me no one had. I had all kinds of crazy ideas on how to make a delectable and snazzy looking lime flavored green cake, but because it was her Birthday, I asked my mom what she thought about a lime cake and her response was, "You can make me a chocolate cake with mint frosting." This was her way of saying, 'I know I'm doomed to have green, but please, no lime.'

I was a bit disappointed, but creative possibilities still lay before me so I began concocting my plans. The following is what I came up with.

Yes, Andes candies helped to inspire me, as well as a bar cookie recipe of my Mother's: Mint Parfait Bars.

I decided to bake a chocolate devils food cake. When there were about 10 minutes left to the baking time, I washed a non-stick saucepan and began unwrapping Andes thin mints and began putting them in the pan on the stove. I had not yet turned on the heat, but because I'd just washed it the pan was still warm and also the oven makes the stove above it rather warm as well so right away the candies started melting.
I continued to fill the pan with chocolate and the it continued to melt. I'm not sure if electric ovens make that much heat on the stove above but my gas one does anyway.

Finally the cake was done, but I first had to let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan, so I probably could have waited to unwrapped the chocolates till the cake came out of the oven. Once it was cool I put a wire rack over the pan and flipped it over. Having used Pam baking spray, the cake came out beautifully onto the rack, which I then set on the table over a large sheet of wax paper.
The chocolate was pretty much all melted by then, so I just stirred it a bit. Jake took some pictures for me so I could show the chocolaty smoothness of it. (And like I said before, I hadn't even turned on the stove yet.)
Then it was time to coat the cake!

I was pretty generous with my first application of chocolate. But I soon realized I might need to be more careful with my second coating.
Here is the wax paper after the first coat. I thought it was kind of cool one of the puddles looks like a heart. I figured we could just let these harden and eat them later. (I've eaten quite a few while blogging this)
This is after my second coat. I had to do this one a lot more slowly, and it was a bit more tedious to try and get the chocolate to cover the sides and bottom edge more. But I did it.
You can tell by my second wax paper sheet the difference in how I applied the chocolate.
Then I managed to make room in my freezer so the chocolate could harden faster and be easier to frost.
After about 20 minutes or so I pulled it out and it looked like this! A giant chocolate doughnut in a minty chocolate shell. I washed my hands and then rinse them in cold water and dried them, then with my cold dry hands I quickly transferred the chocolaty cake form the rack to a nice glass platter.
All ready to frost now.
Personally, I probably would have been happy to eat it like this, but since my mom was expecting mint frosting, I figured this chocolate shell hidden under the icing could be the surprise in my 'Julie Surprise.'
So then I mixed up my "Icing."

I actually used the filling recipe from my Mom's Mint Parfait Bars.
Here's the recipe for it:

Filling (or in this case Icing)

1 envelope or one tablespoon unflavored gelatin.
1/4 cup boiling water
4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2-3 drops green food coloring.

Dissolve gelatin in the boiling water; cool. In large mixing bowl combine gelatin and 2 cups powdered sugar. Add butter, peppermint extract and food coloring; beat 1 minute at medium speed or until smooth and creamy. Blend in remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar until smooth.

Jake helped me with some of the ingredients and as such he decided there wasn't much difference between 3/4 of a cup of butter and a whole cup, so we ended up with an extra 1/4 cup of butter in there. As my brother would put it . . .

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 Anyway, it was a lot more moist than I expected it to be, but at least that made it easier to spread over my cake. (Though I'm sure the hard chocolate shell helped too.) Ready to Start Frosting Pictures here are courtesy of my husband, Jacob.
Almost done. Lilly is intrigued.
She is, Finito!
To top it off, (literally) I sprinkled some Andes brand mint chips over the top.