Let me start by giving credit where credit is due. This glorious creation was the handiwork of teacher, mentor, appreciator of literature, writer, blogger, aunt, newlywed, photographer, nature lover, hiker, explorer, connoisseur of tall trees, purveyor of silliness, lover of all things fall, Disneyphile, master of disguise, baker, and cake enthusiast: Roxanne. The recipe for this deliciousness comes from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, and is featured below.
I have 4 friends with birthdays piled up in a short, 3-week span. In the past, they have all hosted separate birthday parties, and the rest of us have felt like February was a whirlwind of cake and places-to-be.
This year, they decided to forgo that nonsense, and since their ideal guest lists were nearly identical, a 4-way birthday party was the plan. It worked brilliantly.
One of the great things about one's own birthday party, is that the choice of dessert falls exclusively upon the celebratee. What to do with 4 birthdayers? Clearly, the answer was 4 different desserts.
The festivities included a chocolate cake with "cloud burst" frosting, a strawberry cheesecake, macaroons of various flavors (and a trifle made from failed bits of macaroons, or "maca-wrongs"), and this glorious Mint-Chocolate cake.
This was the dessert that came to fruition in my presence before the party, so here it is. And yes, it tasted as good as it looks.
Devil's Food Cake with Mint-Chocolate Ganache
Makes one 9-inch layer cake Half of the ganache is used for the glaze, which should be cool to the touch but pourable. If necessary, warm it over a pan of simmering water.
3 sticks (1.5 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for pans
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Mint-Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9x2 inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment; dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa with hot water until smooth. Whisk in sour cream; let cool. Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light an fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each; scrape down sides of bowls as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add four mixture in two parts, alternating with the cocoa powder mixture and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined.
Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; peel off parchment. Reinvert cakes; let cool completely, top sides up. Transfer half of Mint-Chocolate Ganache (3 1/2 cups) to clean bowl of an electric mixer; set aside remaining. Let cool completely, stirring frequently, about 40 minutes. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until ganache holds soft peaks, 5 to 7 minutes.
Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level. Transfer one of the layers to a cake turntable or platter, and spread top with 1 1/2 cups whipped ganache. Top with remaining layer, cut side down, and spread remaining whipped ganache in a thin layer over entire cake, covering completely. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
Transfer cake to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the reserved ganache over the top, letting it run down the sides. If necessary, use a large offset spatula to spread from the center toward the edges, so that the cake is evenly and completely covered. Refrigerate until the ganache has just begun to set, about 30 minutes. Transfer cake to a serving plate, and garnish with Mint Leaves. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered with a cake dome, for up to 2 days.
Makes about 7 cups Ganache can be kept, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Before using, warm ganache by setting it over a saucepan of simmering water, then let cool, stirring frequently.
4 cups heavy cream
2 pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 teaspoons pure peppermint extract
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a full boil; turn off the heat. Add the chocolate, and swirl pan to completely cover with cream. Slowly whisk mixture until smooth. Add the corn syrup, salt, and peppermint extract, and stir until combined. Transfer to a clean bowl.