Winter Delight Peppermint Cake

Earlier this season, the stunning, elegant and fabulously talented Camille from the entertaining site Camille Styles asked me to contribute to her 12 Tastes of Christmas series (which has been amazing so far, filled with everything from Candied Orange Peel to Winter Citrus Curd). Camille’s work and blog are centered around “creative parties and inspired entertaining,” so I knew that I wanted to create a little something special that I would like to serve at a holiday dinner or party, but that did not take hours and hours to prepare. So, I came up with this Winter Delight Peppermint Cake. Isn’t it funny how the moment the holiday season arrives, we seem to yearn for minty confections? And chocolate? And sparkles? Well, actually, that may be an all-year-long thing, but it’s definitely a much-welcomed winter treat, and I love bringing these flavours together with some contrast: dark fudgy chocolate layer cake filled with fluffy pastel mint frosting, fine-crushed peppermint candy (or as I like to call it, Peppermint Pixie Dust), and a generous coating of sanding sugar. In other words, winter in a cake!

Image Source 

Remember a little while ago, I was writing about some of the sources of inspiration I love? Well, among those was Pinterest, of course, where I came across this vintage Christmas card (a scanned childhood Christmas card of a fellow Flickr member). When I saw that beautiful holly & ivy-adorned glisteny dome (yes, I am creatively writing to avoid the word “muff,” forgive me!), I was suddenly needing to make a domed-style layer cake. I love the retro quality to it all, and it takes no extra time to make, bake, or frost, so why not? Sometimes I think the classic layer cake needs a twist, don’t you?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got a flurry of baking (and other things) on the go at this time of year, so you might agree that fancy-but-fuss-free is a great approach to holiday dessert. Sure, we could stick with just fuss-free, but who doesn’t want to infuse a little fanciness into their holiday? With a simple (but delicious) one-bowl chocolate cake and a whipped version of a classic bakery frosting, I find this cake to be just the answer (not entirely fuss-free, but pretty close if you go with a simple topper). The cake’s unique dome shape paired with the sparkly sprinkling of white sanding sugar gives it a pretty finish that is actually pretty quick and easy to do. A contour cake pan is the easy trick (I used the 8″ Contour Cake Pan with Rounded Bottom Edge, 8 Inch x 3 Inch) to quickly achieving this shape with no carving (I avoid this at all costs), a generous sprinkling of the crushed peppermint candy between the layers and a simple “tossing” of coarse sugar onto the frosted cake adds a snowy twinkle (and a delightful sugar crunch!).

And of course fuss-free really does matter, because there’s just never enough time to get everything done over the holidays, particularly if you are entertaining (you know…planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, baking, cleaning, setting, decorating, hosting–no biggie, right?), but it’s wonderful when fuss-free tastes so good and pleases your crowd (a few oohs and aahs never hurts a hostess’ feelings either). This old-fashioned chocolate cake is dark and decadent (a good quality dark cocoa powder is key), and the whipped minted frosting is light with a supreme fluffiness (a simple extended whipping of the butter is to thank for this texture)–all with a subtle peppermint candy crunch hidden on top of each filling layer. From what I can tell, this combination never disappoints.

You can also add some glittery holly and ivy decorations for some fun and wintery vintage flair (you can even buy a faux-floral decoration or use your imagination–I think even a quirky ornament would be a cute topper!). I made mine by tinting a small bit of fondant raspberry pink and rolling 3 small “holly berries,” and then some green to cut 3 ivy leaves. I let dry and then dusted with edible glitter. I bet any sparkly little cake topper would add a unique touch, sugar or otherwise. I also loved the look of the sugary mint green cake sans adornment, so you truly can’t go wrong.

Happy Holidays!

Winter Delight Peppermint Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round, domed cake (serves 10)

Moist, dark chocolate cake filled with fluffy peppermint frosting, crushed peppermint candy, and topped with sugar-coated peppermint frosting. The holidays in a cake!

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups (550 g) white sugar
  • 1 cup (120 g) dark unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Cacao Barry Extra Dark
  • 2.5 teaspoons (12 g) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon (10 g) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon (14 g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (280 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (280 ml) hot brewed coffee or espresso
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 4.5 sticks (563 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 4.5 cups (720 g) confectioners' sugar (icing, powdered), sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.75 ml) peppermint extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Few drops of green food colour + a few drops of pink (or a drop of red) food colour
  • Crushed peppermint candy, for sprinkling over each layer of filling
  • White sanding sugar for outside of cake (optional)

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare one round 8-inch cake pan with butter, a parchment paper round and cocoa powder. Tap out excess. Prepare an 8-inch contour pan with a generous greasing of butter and cocoa powder (or flour), and tap out excess.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift and add all dry ingredients. In a larger measuring cup gently whisk together all remaining ingredients.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix on medium for 2 minutes (you will need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Pour into prepared pans--fill the cake pans 2/3 full. Batter will be liquidy.
  4. Bake until a toothpick or skewer comes almost clean, about 30 minutes (this is approximate and can vary) for the standard cake pan and about 40 minutes for the contour pan. Avoid opening oven door during the first 20 minutes of baking, and try not to over-bake.
  5. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen edges with a small palette knife, and gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  6. For the Frosting:
  7. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use "4" on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  8. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  9. If desired, tint ~2 cups of frosting pink (for filling) and remaining frosting mint green (for outside of cake).
  10. For a thicker frosting, you can add and whip in small amounts of icing sugar; for thinner frosting, you can add a touch more milk until it reaches desired consistency.
  11. Assembly of the Winter Delight Cake:
  12. Spread a small dollop of pink frosting onto desired cake plate or cake board (this keeps cake from shifting) and place your 8-inch cake layer (standard round), top-side facing up and trim top until flat, if necessary, using a long sharp serrated knife.
  13. Take your 8-inch contour cake, with bottom up, and trim any doming (from the the flat side), and then make 1 horizontal slice in the middle, resulting in 2 layers. You should now have 1 standard 8" layer and 2 layers from the contour pan, totaling 3 cake layers.
  14. Place 1 cup of peppermint frosting on top of your first layer and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife.Sprinkle a generous layer of the crushed peppermint candy on top of the frosting (I like it really fine, like peppermint a "pixie dust" of sorts, but slightly bigger pieces would be great too, giving more crunch), leaving about a 1" edge un-sprinkled.
  15. Gently place the next cake layer on top, with the more narrow end (contour side) up, then repeat previous step. Gently place the final cake layer, smooth domed side up, on top.
  16. Put a very generous scoop of mint green frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. You will want to start with very generous additions of frosting, as much of it will be scraped off with your palette knife when smoothing. To keep the distinct rounded top, be sure to smooth over the domed top as much as possible. Chill until set -- about 30 minutes in refrigerator or 15 minutes in freezer.
  17. Remove from refrigerator/freezer and cover with remaining mint green frosting. Once your cake is frosted, you can place it (cake stand and all) over a cookie sheet and generously sprinkle with sanding sugar for an icy effect (you will actually need to "toss" sugar at the sides, but your cookie sheet will catch excess, allowing you to return remaining sugar to container when finished). Add wintery topper decoration, if desired.
  18. Store in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerator for 5 days. Best enjoyed at room temperature.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Contour cake pans are available in many sizes at baking supply shops. I used 8″ Contour Cake Pan with Rounded Bottom Edge, 8 Inch x 3 Inch
  • You can also bake the cake layers in 3 standard 8″ pans, if you don’t have a contour pan or if you prefer a more classic cake shape.
  • The chocolate cake batter also makes delicious cupcakes. For a Winter Delight Peppermint Cupcakes, you can add a generous swirl of minty frosting and sprinkle with the crushed peppermint candy.
  • For a quick and tidy candy-crushing method (and to get out all of your holiday-induced stress), place your candy on a large cutting board with a tea towel on top and crush away using a meat pounder, or the like. The more you crush it, the finer it will be. Lift towel, and voila!
Good luck & enjoy!



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Misty Minty Peppermint Patties

Misty Minty Peppermint Patties via Sweetapolita

Happy almost mid-November! Are you feeling festive yet? Like clockwork, when I wake up on November 1st, my enthusiasm and excitement for the holidays kicks in, while any traces of the Halloween spirit completely disappear. Along with my festive spirit comes an almost immediate urge for minty treats. It’s likely not a coincidence that this is right around that time that Starbucks brings out the holiday cups, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, and Peppermint Mocha. It seems there are two kinds of people in the world: those who live for mint-chocolate and those who don’t like it at all. It seems there’s no in between. What is it about mint confections that just make us mint-lovers so giddy, especially around the holidays?

This year, though, my need for minty treats is at an all-time high. As a little girl, around the holidays, I used to sneak up onto the counter to reach up above our “harvest gold” refrigerator into the highly-secretive cupboard that my mom and dad thought I didn’t know anything about. Strangely, in between bottles of fancy liqueurs and the like, I could always find a few boxes of Allan’s Misty Mints. I used to sneak as many as I could, then rearrange the remaining mints in the box to hide the evidence. This was tricky when there were only a few left! These magically-minty, pastel, cool-and-creamy buttons have got to be the yummiest treats on the planet. At least, they were the yummiest minty treats on the planet, until I made these: Misty Minty Peppermint Patties. I call them this because it’s what happens when the texture, pastel colour palette, and white chocolate confection of Misty Mints meets the delightfully round, sandwich-like, and creamy minty-filled combination of a peppermint patties. Delish!

I was over at one of my favourite sites the other day, Joy of Baking, when I noticed a great recipe for traditional peppermint patties. I was already looking so forward to some minty recipes for the holidays, so I decided to give them a try. I can’t say I’ve spent much time working on candy recipes, but this was so appealing, and I was inspired. Since I have such love and passion for Misty Mints, I thought it would be the ultimate sucess if I could create a sweet, pastel version that tasted just like them. So, that’s what I did, and if I do say so, they are even better than I expected. Dare I say that they are possibly the most delicious confection I have ever made? These Misty Minty Peppermint Patties are everything (and then some) that my old boyfriends never were: rich, cool, and pretty. ;)

 The process was really straight-forward, which isn’t always the case with candy-making, and is why I love this recipe so much. After mixing a rich and minty patty filling, I prepared and chilled the patties, then melted my Callebaut White Chocolate Couverture in a double boiler. I feel it’s so important that you use the best white chocolate for this recipe — it’s the gorgeous creaminess of the Callebaut white chocolate combined with the decadent filling that really makes these extraordinary. And what is it about this retro colour combination that makes me so happy? I truly believe that biting into a gorgeous pastel peppermint patty tastes just that much better. You can make them any size you want, really, and serve them or package them up with a pretty ribbon and give them as stocking stuffers or hostess gifts. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one out there with fond holiday Misty Mint memories.

Here’s the recipe:

Misty Minty Peppermint Patties

Ingredients

    For the Filling:
  • 4 cups (480 g/16 oz) icing sugar (confectioners')
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) peppermint oil (ideally food grade oil rather than extract)
  • 3/4 tsp (3.75 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Coating:
  • 1 lb (454 g) best-quality white chocolate couverture, chopped
  • soft gel paste colour, optional
  • You will also need:
  • candy thermometer

Instructions

    For the Filling:
  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and smooth. Set aside.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar, butter, evaporated milk, peppermint oil and vanilla.
  3. Once ingredients are incorporated, turn mixer up to med-high, mixing for about 2 minutes, until creamy. Cover and chill filling in bowl for about 30 minutes.
  4. Once chilled enough to roll balls of filling in your hand, roll 1.5" balls and place on foiled cookie sheet. Using the palm of your hand, gently press down on each ball to create a patty. Refrigerate for another 30-60 minutes until firm and remove when you have your coating ready to go.
  5. For the Coating:
  6. In a double boiler (or bowl on top of a pot), bring water to boil. Once boiling, turn the stove off (keeping pot on element) and add your chopped chocolate. Stir with silicone spatula until nice and smooth.
  7. Remove from heat, wipe bottom of bowl, and set aside, stirring continuously while cooling. When almost cool, divide into 3 and tint each lot desired colour (I used very small amounts of gel colours: leaf green, electric pink, and electric orange). Once chocolate reaches 80-84° F on a candy thermometer, you can start dropping patties in, one at a time, coating both sides, and removing carefully with two forks (or chocolate dipping fork).
  8. Place on cookie sheet to set. Once all patties are dipped and coated, set tray aside in a cool, dry place to set. Don't refrigerate while setting.

Notes

[filling recipe adapted from Joy of Baking]

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 Sweetapolita’s Notes

  • You can use peppermint extract in place of the oil, but you won’t get that intense mintiness that the concentrated oil gives. It’s still very minty!
  • You can store the set patties in an airtight container in the refrigerator, with parchment or wax paper in between, for up to one month.
  • Best stored chilled, and eaten at either room temperature or chilled.

Minty delicious!

Good luck & enjoy



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