13 Mar Mint Chocolate Chip Cake
A few years ago, just a few short weeks after I had staked my claim on this little corner of the internet, I hopped across the pond for a quick week’s trip to the old sod, or as you may be more familiar, Ireland. My father’s mother, better known as Nana, was a 100%, pure-blooded Irishwoman, which makes me a very proud quarter Irish lass. County Tipperary, Silvermines — represent! Way back when, I wrote two slightly embarrassing posts about the aforementioned trip – they were some of the very first words to which I had the nerve to hit the “publish” button, and my novice is quite evident. (You can find those posts here should you be curious.)
Now, don’t be fooled. While I may claim the roots, this cake isn’t exactly steeped in Irish tradition.
In fact, I don’t recall having anything minty at any time during my visit. But because of its fresh green color, mint seems to have become a common theme for St. Patrick’s Day celebratory desserts. Plus, let’s be honest, the Irish aren’t exactly famous for their cuisine – I can’t recall one iconically Irish dessert — instead, us Irish have focused the majority of our efforts on perfecting the distillation (and consumption) of the adult beverage. Speaking of Irish cuisine (or lack thereof) I actually got food poisoning while we were there, which as you can tell has since tainted all food-related memories of the trip. I’ll spare you the details and instead just leave you with this one, small tidbit of advice – avoid the pork ravioli. <— Yeah, I know. What was I doing eating Italian food in Dublin, anyway?
The very roundabout point I’m making here is that while it may not be authentic, this cake is definitely green. Plus minty. And as St. Patty’s Day approaches, that counts for something.
And this green, minty cake, y’all.
Where it lacks in authenticity, it makes up in flavor. It’s three layers of the richest, moistest chocolate cake in all the land. Spiked with a whole cup of freshly brewed coffee and rich with bittersweet chocolate notes, it’s the only chocolate cake that I make. All others pale in comparison. So naturally, it’s Ina’s. Each indulgent chocolate layer is separated by a healthy smearing of fluffy mint buttercream that’s dotted with flakes of chopped, dark chocolate, providing just a hint of texture before melting into oblivion on your tongue. (Yes, it does taste like the ice cream.)
But that’s not all. No, no, there’s more. To take this cake to next-level awesomeness, I’ve added an additional layer of Momofuku Milk Bar’s Chocolate Crumb. I like to think of it as a new (divinely crunchy) spin on an old classic. Seriously, the chocolate crunch is pure perfection — don’t leave it out! It’s reminiscent of Oreo cookie crumbles but without the overt sweetness of the cream filling plus an added salty bite; each mouthful is pure bliss. I want to use it to top all the things — classed up worms in dirt, anybody? GENIUS.
So, there you have it. This year’s over-the-top, perfect-for-St.Patrick’s-Day-but-totally-appropriate-for-any-day-of-the-year cake.
And on a quick, unrelated note — the madness of South by Southwest is creeping into Austin as we speak, so shit’s about to get crazy around here. Hoards of tech nerds, film geeks and struggling musicians are taking over my city and I won’t be able to drive, walk or or even think without pushing and shoving through a crowd for the next 10 days. That said, I may not come up for blog-air until the week after next, so if that’s the case CHEERS & HAPPY ST. PATTY’S (and pi day!!!) TO ‘YA! <– said in my best Irish accent. Drink a green beer, eat a slice of pie and think of me! I’ll be seeking comfort in the chaos via free tacos, free live music, and of course, thoughts of this chocolate cake.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups natural cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed, hot coffee
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- scant 2 teaspoons mint extract (spearmint is preferred over peppermint)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- A few drops green food coloring
- 6 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour. Set aside.
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
- In another bowl or in a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
- With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend on low speed until mixed.
- Add the butter and mix on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
- Spread the clusters on your parchment-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch after 20 minutes and will continue to dry and harden as they cool.
- Remove crumbs from the oven and cool completely before using.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until it starts to become fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Turn the mixer to low and add the cream. Once the cream is incorporated turn the speed back up to high a beat from another 2 minutes.
- Add the extracts and mix to combine.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add in the powdered sugar until incorporated. Add the green food coloring until a desired shade of green is achieved, then turn the mixer up to high and beat for 5 minutes, or until icing is light and fluffy.
- Add in the chopped chocolate and mix until evenly distributed.
- Place one layer of cake onto a cardboard cake round or directly onto the serving dish. Spread on one third of the mint buttercream, pushing the icing as close to the edges of the cake as you can get without spilling over. Top with one third of the chocolate crumb.
- Repeat for the second and third layers.