This chocolate mint cake features layers of tender dark chocolate cake, white chocolate ganache filling, and a rich chocolate fudge icing. Chocolate and mint lovers…this one’s for you!
My dear, dear friend just had a baby. Another friend and I took dinner to her. My assignment was dessert. I remembered my friend telling me that she really wanted me to make her a Chocolate Mint Layer Cake for her next birthday. I thought, “Why not make one now?” A new baby is the perfect time for a special chocolate mint cake!
It had been awhile since I had made my original chocolate mint cake recipe. If I haven’t made a recipe for awhile, I like to go back and revisit the process and ingredients, especially if I’ve learned a few new tricks. This chocolate mint cake gave some readers a bit of trouble – the white chocolate ganache filling can be a little finicky.
So, I went back and looked at the recipe. I knew I would follow the recipe for the cake because it is absolutely foolproof. I was correct in my memory of the white chocolate being difficult to work with. But it’s the extra effort that pays off in the end. ;)
I didn’t end up having enough cream or bittersweet chocolate on hand to make the whipped chocolate ganache for the icing, so I made a rich, chocolate fudge icing instead. (The cake and chocolate fudge icing recipes can be found below.)
White Chocolate vs. Candy Melts, Almond Bark, and Vanilla Chips
I typically only use real white chocolate when I bake or make candy. I prefer the flavor and mouthfeel of the cocoa butter to the palm oil in the white chocolate substitutes, candy melts, almond bark, and vanilla chips. But I’m not so much of a snob that I can’t say this: those white chocolate substitutes will also work here and are easier to work with. If you’ve never worked with white chocolate before, then go for the candy melts, almond bark, or vanilla chips first. They are more forgiving.
I wanted to document the making of the ganache and add some helpful tips. I discovered that there are many ways to mess up this ganache filling and ways to remedy it. See below the recipe for the photos, tips and tricks.
Chocolate Mint Cake That Doesn’t Taste Like Toothpaste
I love me some peppermint and chocolate anything, but too much of a good thing can end up tasting like toothpaste. Some people are more sensitive to the flavor of peppermint. I use a combination of peppermint and creme de menthe extracts for just the right amount of minty-ness. Creme de menthe extract can be found in craft stores that have cake decorating and candy making sections. Or it can be found online. (affiliate link)
- For Chocolate Cake:
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup Hershey's cocoa, plus more for dusting pan
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup very hot water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- For White Chocolate Mint Ganache Filling:
- 12 ounces quality white chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
- 1 teaspoon creme de menthe extract
- 2-3 drops of green food coloring
- For Chocolate Fudge Icing:
- 1½ sticks salted butter (use unsalted if you like it better)
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- ¾ cup Hershey's cocoa powder
- 4 to 4½ cups powdered sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed
- Chocolate shavings or curls, or chopped Andes mints, for garnish
- For cake: Heat oven to 350°F. Adjust oven racks to the middle of the oven.
- Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with a 9-inch round piece parchment or waxed paper. Grease the paper. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons cocoa powder into the greased pan and tap the sides to distribute it on the bottom and sides of pan. Use more cocoa, if needed. Tap out the excess.
- Sift all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract in a large glass measuring cup with spout.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Slowly add the cup of hot water while mixing on low speed. The batter will be thin.
- Using a 1-cup measuring cup, evenly divide the cake batter between the 2 pans; each one gets about 3 cups of batter.
- Bake the cakes at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for about 5-10 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap cake in plastic film and place in fridge or freezer until ready to frost the cake; this will make it easier to frost and there will be less loose crumbs.
- For White Chocolate Mint Filling: Have ready a double boiler or glass bowl and pan of simmering water. Place white chocolate, cream, and butter into the double boiler or glass bowl set over simmering water.
- Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter melt. Remove bowl from heat being careful not to get any drops of water in the chocolate, or it will seize.
- Add the extracts and food coloring directly to the bowl and stir. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the ganache thickens a bit and cools down. Make sure it doesn't get too thick, or it won't whip properly or spread very well.
- Whip the cooled ganache on low speed with an electric mixer. It won't take long - the ganache will start to thicken up and become fluffy. If over-beaten, the ganache will become crumbly. Warm the mixture in the microwave or over the simmering water to soften it a bit. Stir again to restore the proper consistency.
- For Chocolate Fudge Frosting: Place butter and bittersweet chocolate in another glass mixing bowl. Place in microwave on 50% power for 60 seconds. Stir and microwave again for 30 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted.
- Add the cocoa powder and mix well. Using an electric mixer, beat in the powdered sugar a little at a time, alternating with a little milk until the icing has reached a spreadable consistency. (Sometimes it needs a few minutes in the fridge to firm up.)
- To Assemble Cake: Remove the chilled cake from the fridge or freezer. Place a little bit of the Chocolate Fudge Frosting in the center of a cake stand or serving tray. Place the first layer on the frosting. This will help keep the cake from slicing around.
- Spread ½ of the ganache on the first cake layer, carefully spreading almost to the edge of the cake. Top with the second layer. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, if needed.
- Starting on the top of the cake, spread a bit of the fudge frosting over the entire cake to create a crumb coating. This will help keep the tender cake from pulling away and creating crumbs in the frosting. Chill in the fridge again for a few minutes to set the frosting.
- Cover the cake with the fudge frosting. Create swirls or other patterns, if desired.
- Place the remaining white chocolate ganache into a piping bag and using a star tip, pipe the ganache in a decorative pattern on the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the chocolate shards. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Just before serving, remove cake and allow it to warm up for about 5-10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve immediately.
How-To Pictures and Instructions
Chop the white chocolate into small chunks and place in a medium sized bowl.
Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water–making sure the bowl is big enough that it doesn’t touch the water (a.k.a. a double boiler) . Add the cream and butter. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter melt. Remove bowl from heat.
Add the extracts and food coloring directly to the bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the ganache thickens. Make sure it doesn’t get too thick, or you won’t be able to whip it, or spread it very well.
Troubleshooting and Tips
- Over-beating can only be remedied by rewarming the ganache. I made the mistake of over-beating the cooled ganache. I had forgotten that I could rewarm the ganache in the microwave, so instead I tried adding a few tablespoons of heavy cream. BIG MISTAKE. I added a few tablespoons of butter. Another BIG MISTAKE. Rewarming is really the only way to remedy over-beating.
- To quickly chill the ganache, place the bowl in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes. Don’t let it stay in there for too long or it will have to be rewarmed.
- Other extracts can be substituted for the peppermint and creme de menthe flavorings to change things up. Try hazelnut, coffee, raspberry, orange, strawberry, or your favorite complementary flavoring.
- For a chocolate ganache, substitute milk or dark chocolate for the white chocolate and proceed with the recipe as written.