Let her eat cake

Sunday, September 13, 2015
Two weeks ago, both of my daughters set off for university, my youngest for the first time. It felt like a poignant end to their childhood. I found myself reflecting about the past and wondering about the future. How often would we see them, and what would our new family time be like?

But it wasn't long until I heard from my young freshman. She was having a great time, her classes were going well, and university was great. Also, could she come home for the weekend?

I remembered my oldest took comfort from an early visit home in her first year, and with both their schools a short distance away, it's easily done.

"Yes," I texted, "of course you can come home. Anything special you'd like me to make?"

In response came a plaintive, one-word text: "Cake."

Cake isn't really my thing. I generally just make cake for birthdays (and sometimes even those are celebrated with fruit desserts). But for her first visit home, I decided not only would I make her cake, I'd make it in her favourite flavour - mint chocolate.

And when my oldest daughter found out her sister was home for the weekend, she made time in her schedule for a Friday night dinner with us. Which is how we found ourselves sitting in the back yard on a warm evening, hearing stories about school, and eating a dessert that everyone (especially the guest of honour) described as fantastic.

Perhaps you really can have your cake and eat it too.

Mint Chocolate Cake
(adapted from The Food Network)



14 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
16 tablespoons (1 cup) butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup (6 ounces) small-diced Peppermint Pattie candies (note: these are easier to cut if you freeze them first)

Ganache Topping:

1 cup cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Chocolate Mint Sauce:

8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup cream
a pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, and flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Melt the chocolate with the butter and cream in the top of a double boiler. Let cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very thick and light (about 5 minutes). Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix until just blended. Add the flour, salt, and vanilla and stir until combined. Transfer the batter to a large bowl and stir in the Peppermint Pattie pieces. The mixture will be quite thick.

In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to medium soft peaks. Lighten the batter by stirring in about one-third of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining whites and spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. The top of the cake will feel set and very fine hairline cracks will just start to form around the edges. Remove and cool in the pan on a rack.

To make the ganache topping:

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan to just under a boil. Add the chopped chocolate and, over very low heat, constantly stirring, heat the mixture until it is completely smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable. This can take several hours. You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead, refrigerate it, and allow it to come to room temperature for several hours before using.

Place the cooled cake upside down on a plate. Remove the sides and bottom of the springform pan. Remove the parchment liner. Using an offset spatula, spread the ganache over what is now the top of the cake, drawing the ganache all the way out to the edges of the cake. Using the offset spatula, level the edges to give the cake a finished look.

Serve at room temperature with chocolate mint sauce and ice cream.

To make the chocolate mint sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and cocoa, then stir in the cream and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often. Allow to simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened somewhat. Remove from heat. Add the peppermint extract a few drops at a time until the sauce is as minty as you like (you probably won't use all of it). Cool and serve at room temperature. This can be made up to 1 week ahead of time.


Tricia Buice said...

Oh this is so sweet. Glad you got to have a 'daughter' fix so soon after she left. It is hard and things change. I now find I enjoy the quiet more than I ever thought I would. Both kids married, one just down the street. But we don't see them often enough :) The cake looks wonderful. I made one today but hated the icing. I will make another batch (new recipe) tomorrow and see if I can make it come together. Oh well!

Stephen Tremp said...

What an amazing post. We have two daughters and I can picture us in this very setting in the near future. The cake looks amazing and I'm going to save the recipe to use this weeks as my daughters love to bake treats like this.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Dear Beth, that is a very sweet blog post indeed - I loved reading through it and really enjoyed the pictures of your chocolate mint cake recipe.- shiny and pretty, just perfect for your "guets of honor" and for sharing with your whole family while enjoying family time together!
A wonderful and warming post to read on a foggy and grey Monday morning, dear friend!

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's so awesome your daughter is doing well at college and still wanted to come home. Anna Li came and hung out here Friday night before she picked up her boyfriend at the train station. She's doing great too, but is okay staying in touch. So grateful for that.

Can you send me a piece of cake? It looks delicious.

Angie's Recipes said...

Beautiful! I love the combo of mint and chocolate..and that ganache is absolutely stunning.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds and looks delicious!!!! Glad you had a great visit! :)

Valerie Gamine said...

Oh, this cake looks ravishing! That ganache is exquisite.
Nothing says comfort quite like chocolate cake. I'm sure you (and this cake) created another beautiful memory. :-)

Monica said...

Ah, how wonderful! Loved reading this - so happy your youngest daughter is starting to settle in and making time to come home for some comfort. Mint chocolate cake and dinner with family is just the ticket.

Unknown said...

Lovely story. Mint and chocolate are such a great combination, it looks great.

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

You are such a wonderful mother (and wife and friend). It just comes through so plainly and clearly in your posts. I'm sure you already know that, but it's always nice to hear it again, isn't it? =) And what a delicious cake you made! Like your daughter, mint chocolate is one of my favorite flavors, so this looks right up my alley. YUM!

Unknown said...

Your cake looks great! How sweet that your daughter wanted to come home. At the end of the day, sometimes that's where we all want to be.

Abbe@This is How I Cook said...

So that's how you get them to come home! I wish it was so easy! Have to admit though, that I's come home for this! Love the mint flavor!

Abbe@This is How I Cook said...

So that's how you get them to come home! I wish it was so easy! Have to admit though, that I's come home for this! Love the mint flavor!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

I remember cooking all my kids' favorites those first few times they came home from college. How nice to have both your girls home---and that you enjoyed some mother-daughter time. All 3 of mine would love your chocolate mint cake!!!

Marcela said...

Your cake looks delicious!That's so sweet that your daughter wanted to come home! You're a wonderful mother!

Beth said...

Thank you all for your kind words. Amy, what a lovely message from you! It made my day to read it. xo

grace said...

it's not so easy to leave home, i can attest to that! plus, if chocolate and mint cake is involved, that's just irresistible incentive! ::)

Gloria Baker said...

This mint chocolate cake look amazing Beth :)

Marcelle said...

Chocolate and mint belong together! This cake sounds delicious. :) Thanks for the recipe! My kids are still little, and I already get misty-eyed just thinking of the day when they move on. Glad your girl came back home for a visit so soon!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

What a lovely weekend--and such a nice cake for the occasion! Alas my youngest went to school1500 miles away so no trips home until Thanksgiving...

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