Guess Who's Back...

It's no secret that I'm kind of a procrastinator. That's why we're a week into March and we're still not done unpacking from our move. (Though, in our defense, we've done about as much as we can without getting more bookcases. There's simply nowhere to put the books and DVDs that are taking over the mancave at the moment. I've picked out my birthday bookshelves, but they won't be arriving until closer to the actual date.) As part of the general upheaval the move has caused in my life, I've had to put off my participation in the weekly Cake Day rotation at work for months. The last thing I made specifically for Cake Day were the pecan bars I baked back in November, though I was able to count my annual Cookie Bonanza giveaway as my December contribution to the Cake Day lineup.

First, my baking supplies were packed and inaccessible. Then, I was too busy with unpacking and getting settled to take on the responsibility of feeding something tasty to my peers. Finally though, a month after our move, I felt sufficiently prepared to tackle Cake Day once more, and I knew I wanted to make my comeback in a big way. This time, I knew I wanted to make a proper cake instead of my usual more easily-transported baked goods, so I asked if I could move my appointed day to Thursday instead of Tuesday so I could ask Justin to drive me to work on his day off, so I wouldn't have to schlep my cake carrier on the train. With that administrative task out of the way, I set about the task of selecting a recipe to try.

I have several tempting layer cakes saved to my Pinterest dessert board, involving a wide array of flavors that I love -- cinnamon, chocolate, maple, salted caramel... the list goes on and on. I've got a lot of occasions coming up that will call for cake baking, however, including my birthday and my blogiversary, so I had to be judicious with my choice. I ended up being drawn to a mint chocolate chip cake that I had spotted on a random food blog one day, largely because I've been preoccupied with thoughts of a similar confection since Mom's birthday last year. 

At the time, I had spotted a cake based on the grasshopper cocktail in my copy of Baked: New Explorations in Baking, and had wanted to make it for her, knowing her fondness for the ice cream beverage. Even on her birthday, she remained dedicated to her diet, and requested that I forgo making her a cake last year, but the idea of combining mint and chocolate in cake form stuck with me. The recipe that I'd spotted on the internet was similar, but considerably less complicated than the Baked version, so I decided to give it a go.

Though I have a foolproof chocolate cake recipe to which I am immensely devoted, I decided to go ahead and try the devil's food chocolate cake suggested by the blogger who devised this cake. The recipe originally hailed from David Lebovitz, and I trust him implicitly when it comes to making desserts, plus, my much-beloved chocolate cake recipe is a little too fluffy and soft to hold up to heavy frosting when stacked. It would be nice to see if Lebovitz's recipe could offer additional structure without sacrificing taste or texture. Thankfully, it was almost as delicious as my regular go-to cake, and it held its shape beautifully under the generous layer of frosting I applied.

The frosting itself was very simple to make, though I wished I had mint extract on hand instead of the peppermint extract I used because I think that would have tasted a bit better. Something about that much peppermint kind of reminded me of toothpaste, but nobody else seemed to be of the same mind. I particularly liked all the finely ground bits of bittersweet chocolate studding the frosting; not only did they drive home the mint chocolate chip theme, they also made the frosting extremely forgiving. I didn't have to worry about crumb-coating the cake to keep the crumbs out of the frosting, as the chocolate cake flecks would have blended right in. Given my lack of frosting skills, this was a definite advantage for me.

My offering was very well-received by my colleagues for Cake Day, and I even managed to save a piece to bring home to Justin. Being the masochist that I am, I'm still curious about the Baked grasshopper cake, but that's going to have to wait until the next month of furious cake baking is behind me. Stay tuned to see what I come up with for the cake-centric occasions to come next month...

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake
adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes

For the cake:
9 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used a combination of natural and Dutch-process)
1 1/2 c. cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk (any variety)

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with Pam and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with Pam too.
1. Sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
3. Mix together the water and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, the add the water and milk. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients.
4. Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 teaspoons mint extract
5 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
green food coloring

Beat butter with an electric mixer on high until fluffy and smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until combined. Add mint extract to taste and green food coloring. Gradually add chocolate pieces until you have a good distribution of chocolate bits.

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