While I realize it’s pretty presumptuous to title a blog post, “Ode to Your’s Truly,” I feel like it’s only fair, considering I just recently celebrated my birthday. Ask anyone in my family, I have very strong feelings about my birthday celebrations.
In fact, so much so that I have celebrated with the same flavor birthday cake for the last…34 (or thereabouts) years. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice-cream with a vanilla cake serving as the foundation for the ice cream. It’s just been my thing. I can’t totally explain it, or why my parents let me bore them with the same flavors every.single.year.
It’s been a constant on each birthday, I knew I’d be getting my cake, and in addition to said cake, I also knew that the leftovers would be individually wrapped in plastic wrap for me to enjoy for the rest of the month. My dad always did this for me. I’m not sure how it started, but this little ritual soon became a tradition that has weaved its way into every single birthday celebration. Now, I’m fortunate enough to have found a husband who concedes to my ridiculous requests, and each year, individually wraps my leftover birthday cake slices for me.
This recipe was born out of a desire to treat myself to my own little birthday celebration with a personal pan sized cake. The cake is chocolate, which as the years have increased, has become more my flavor than vanilla (I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks).
Let me take a moment to discuss this frosting. I knew I wanted the combination of the mint and chocolate flavors, but I also didn’t want the frosting to overpower the richness of the cake. Sometimes buttercream has a way of shouting it’s sweetness, when it really only needs to whisper. This frosting is, in Vic’s words, “fancy.” It’s velvety, and smooth, and everything dreams are made of. The creme de menthe adds a subtle mint flavor, without overpowering the cake. In my mind it’s the perfect marriage of the two flavors, AND it comes individually portioned. Thus, an ode to myself.
So, if you have a special occasion coming up, or you know, a rocking Friday night, pop out the mixer and get to work. These are worth every bit of effort, and whoever you are celebrating with will thank you for your hard work.
Mini-Chocolate Cakes with Creme de Menthe Buttercream
For the cake:
*I used the Deep Dark Chocolate Cake recipe from the Bakewise Cookbook. It made 12 mini cakes, but also makes 2 9 in. cakes.
2 3/4 c (546 g) sugar
3/4 tsp (4.5g) salt
3/4 c (69 g) Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp. (5 g) baking soda
1 c water
1 c canola oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (I used paste)
1 3/4 c (218 g) spooned and leveled all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks(mine were room temperature)
2 large eggs
1/4 c buttermilk
- Arrange a shelf in the lower third of the oven, place a baking stone on it, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray, GENEROUSLY the cake pans (mini or otherwise) with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the round pans with parchment and then spray the top of it with the cooking spray (I skipped this step because I was using the mini pans).
- In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt cocoa and baking soda. In another saucepan bring 1 c water to a boil. Stirring constantly, pour boiling water a little at a time into the cocoa mixture. It will bubble up at first and then get dark and thicken. Stir the cocoa mixture briskly. Place on heat and bring back to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow to stand in the hot saucepan for at least 10 minutes.
- Pour the hot cocoa mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the oil, and vanilla and beat on low speed for about 10 seconds. On low speed, beat the flour into the batter, and then with a minimum of beating, beat in the egg yolks, whole eggs and buttermilk. This is a thin batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
- Place in the oven on the stone (I skipped the stone step) for about 25 minutes. If you are using the smaller pans, begin checking yours at the 15 minute mark. You want a toothpick to come out clean and the top to feel springy. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing. Invert onto a plate or platter to serve.
Creme De Menthe Buttercream
*This is entirely worth the effort…
2 large egg whites, room temperature (I take my eggs out the night before and just let them sit)
1/2 c granulated sugar
8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 Tbsp. Creme de Menthe (or any other liquor of your choice)
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
Place egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to blend. Bring 2 in. of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Place the bowl of the mixer over the simmering water and heat, whisking constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the mixture from the heat and attach bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whip the mixture on high speed until it cools to room temperature, is light and billowing, and resembles marshmallow fluff. If the mixture is warm, it will melt the butter too quickly, so make sure you let it sit until it is room temperature.
With the mixture on medium-high speed, add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to blend in fully before adding the next. Halfway through adding the butter, stop the mixer and use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl thoroughly. Continue to whip until all butter has been added and the mixture is velvety and smooth. Add vanilla, Creme de Menthe and salt; whip to incorporate. Buttercream will be a little too soft to spread or pipe, so place in the fridge for about 15 minutes until it is a little more firm and able to be piped.
When you’re ready to pipe, transfer to a piping bag and decorate away…
*I’m convinced the best thing about March is the pairing of chocolate and mint…