mint condition


Oh my, Martha has done it again. I’m not one to admit this in a crowded room or in a situation where the possibility of a piece of chocolate cake arises, but I’m not big on chocolate cake. And inevitably that is the flavor people request, again and again…oh yes, and again. I’ve found that I  prefer the lighter flavor of vanilla, paired with various fruits and creams…the types of desserts that leave me feeling like I might have a fighting chance at getting up from the table after consumption. I think it may be because I’ve had my fair share of made-from-the-box chocolate cakes slathered in inch high, heavy chocolate icing, ‘fresh’ from the can. And that every forkful of cake requires half a glass of ice water to get down. I’m allergic to milk so adjust the metaphor accordingly (oh no, don’t worry. It’s nothing that keeps me from cheeses or every dessert that is enjoyable…you just won’t see me with a hefty glass of milk).  Anyways, this cake broke all the chocolate cake stereotypes for me without compromising the the reason chocolate-lovers reach for that extra slice—that pure, smooth chocolate flavor. The cake itself is a good chocolate cake recipe that is perfectly moist and rich, and the chocolate mint ganache is creamy and refreshing. Together they combine to make what I can only describe as a girlscout thin-mint type satisfaction, amplified. And the ganache is the most wonderful consisency to work with, leaving you with an evenly covered, smooth cake—a thing dreams are made of. Top with these chocolate leaves to take it to irresistible.

devil’s food cake with chocolate-mint ganache
courtesy of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

3 sticks butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for pans
¾ cup hot water
¾ cup sour cream
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
mint-chocolate ganache (recipe to follow)
chocolate mint leaves (recipe to follow)
  • Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, then cut out parchment circles to lay at the bottom of the pan. Butter the tops of those, and instead of flouring the whole pan, use cocoa powder (it keeps with the chocolate look instead of getting white all over your lovely chocolate cake).
  • Whisk together the cocoa and the hot water until smooth.  Then whisk in the sour cream and allow to cool. This will look beautiful and delicous—and it will be. But don’t stick your finger in it at this point—it’s very bitter!
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Beat the butter until fluffy in a third bowl.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Beat in vanilla.  Then add flour mixture in two parts with the mixer on low, alternating with the cocoa mixture and beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat until combined.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans, smooth the top, and bake about 45 to 50 minutes.  Do not over bake!  Cake is ready when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, or when the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.  Allow pans to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert and turn right side up; allow to cool completely.
  • While the cake is baking, make the mint chocolate ganache from the recipe below.
  • Separate into two separate bowls, about half in each (3 1/2 cups or so per bowl). For one half of the ganache, beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form when you lift the beater slowly, about 5 to 7 minutes (mine took a bit longer, but don’t give up!).
  • Using a serrated knife or a cake layer cutter, trim the tops of cake layers to make them level.  Transfer one of the layers to a cake platter and spread with about 1 1/2 cups of the 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 outward (I didn’t need to do this, I just dumped it all on top in the middle of the cake and it spread itself very evenly and smooth).  Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.  Use two large spatulas or bench scrapers to transfer cake to a serving plate and garnish or decorate as desired.  Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days.
  • Garnish with chocolate mint leaves.

chocolate-mint ganache

4 cups heavy cream
2 pounds semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chips)
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ tsp salt
tsp pure peppermint extract
  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a full boil. Turn off heat.
  • Add chocolate to the cream, making sure it is completely submerged in the cream. Slowly whisk until smooth.
  • Add the corn syrup, salt and peppermint extract, and stir until well combined. Let setwill take approximately 40 minutes. Stir occasionally during this time to keep from separating.  

chocolate mint leaves

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
fresh mint leaves
  • Using a small brush, coat the underside of each leaf with a thick layer of chocolate.
  • Drape the laves chocolate sides up , over a curved surface (a rolling pin or utensil handle) set on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes.
  • Gently grasp the edge of the chocolate layer with a pair of tweezers (avoid touching with your hand because they will melt) and peel off the mint leaf by the stem. Place on cake and enjoy!

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