Chocolate Mint Cake with Fresh Mint Buttercream Frosting

I spent the better part of my day in the kitchen today – but some really yummy things came out of it, and so it was work well worth it! I tried two new recipes – this chocolate mint cake and chicken parmesan casserole (I’ll post that next). They both turned out so, so good!

This spring, I decided to grow some “easy” herbs – basil, rosemary and mint. So far, so good – it’s all still alive! Until today, I hadn’t used any of the mint and so I’ve been searching for something to do with it. My love for Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies made me naturally think of chocolate. I used a chocolate cake recipe that called for boiling water and infused it with fresh mint. I did the same thing with the frosting – instead of milk, I added mint water to help thin it out a bit, plus I added some finely chopped fresh mint.  It turned out awesome! The mint added such a fresh taste to the cake. The chocolate cake itself only had a hint of mint flavor, but the flavor was really present in the frosting.

Chocolate Mint Cake

1 1/4 cup water
25 mint leaves
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Fresh Mint Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup water
25 mint leaves
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 box powdered sugar (1 lb)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped unsweetened chocolate (baking squares)
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
Garnish with chopped chocolate and fresh mint leaves

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three cake pans with parchment paper and then butter and flour them. Set aside.
2.) In a small saucepan, add water and mint leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3.) In a large mixing bowl, add sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine well.
4.) Add eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil and mint-infused water. Stir until well combined, but do not over-stir. Some lumps are okay. Batter will be very runny.
5.) Pour batter evenly into the three cake pans. Place in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Insert toothpick to make sure cake is done. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks. Allow to fully cool before icing the cakes.
6.) In the same small saucepan used before, add 1/2 cup water and 25 mint leaves. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 8 minutes. Set aside.
7.) Using a stand mixer on slowest setting, cream butter and vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar, then add salt. Add 1 or 2 tbsp of the mint-infused water to reach desired consistency. Add the chopped chocolate and fresh mint and mix until well combined.
8.) Once the cakes have cooled, add first layer to a cake plate and add slightly less than a third of the icing. Using an icing spatula, turn cake plate and spread frosting toward the edges until frosting completely covers the layer. Repeat for second layer. On the third and final layer, you should have slightly more than a third of the frosting. Spread as was done on the first and second layers. Garnish with chopped chocolate and mint leaves.

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This is the “stop taking pictures and give me a bite!” look

Adapted from FoodGaZm’s Chocolate Layer Cake

Brownie Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

My husband is a chocoholic. The guy loves anything chocolate. So for Father’s Day, I made him the ultimate chocolate dessert – a brownie bundt cake with chocolate ganache. The idea began last night when he was searching for chocolate (to which we only had chocolate ice cream), and he started throwing out chocolate wish-list ideas. “I want chocolate cake… no brownies… no a brownie cake. But not with icing, with ganache!” Viola. A quick Pinterest search and I had a plan for the next day.

Brogan decided to help me make the Father’s Day cake – he’s getting good at measuring and stirring, so his assistance is more of a help than it used to be. This cake turned out awesome! It was fudgy, and rich (but not too rich) and totally hit the spot where a chocolate craving is concerned. To sum it up, Brogan swiftly said after taking a bite, “this cake is amazing!” I must agree. And most importantly, so did Blake. I just watched him have a second helping, this time topped with chocolate ice cream. Go figure. Hope you enjoy!

Brownie Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
4 ozs unsweetened chocolate squares, chopped
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
Butter and flour for bundt pan

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.) In a large microwavable bowl, add butter, chopped chocolate and chocolate chips. Microwave for until melted, stirring about every minute. Once melted, stir until smooth.
3.) With a whisk, stir in sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Next, stir in vanilla, flour and salt.
4.) Butter and flour a bundt pan. Pour batter into pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Check cake with a toothpick and cook longer if needed.
5.) To prepare the ganache, place heavy cream in a saucepan and heat just until it boils. Remove from heat, add chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Spoon ganache on top of the cake and serve.

Brownie cake adapted from Taste of Home’s Triple Layer Brownie Cake

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Brownie bundt7My other little kitchen helper 🙂

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Chocolate Espresso Cake

Baking sweets is starting to be an every weekend occurrence.  Whereas I used to be immune to the smell of something sweet and chocolaty baking in the oven, the sweet tooth I gained with my last pregnancy is still with me. Bummer. I asked Brogan what he wanted to bake today and he said birthday cake. Well, it’s no one’s birthday, so we just made cake.

I modified a German Chocolate cake recipe I found in one of Blake’s chefy cookbooks by adding some instant coffee. I once watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa and Ina Garten swore by adding a little instant coffee to chocolate desserts because it would enhance the chocolate flavor. She was right. I took it a step further and added some coffee to the chocolate frosting too. I attempted to make just a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but perhaps I added a little more instant coffee that Ina… and what I ended up with was definitely a chocolate espresso cake. I’m not complaining.

This cake is very light and moist. The coffee is more prominent in the frosting, but the whole thing is just perfect together. We topped it with shaved Hershey bar… just because.  I’ve not made many cakes from scratch, and this one was very easy to do well. This cake also allowed me to hone my icing skills – I finally got it! See below for what I did to properly ice this cake. Hope you enjoy!

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Chocolate Espresso Cake

1 cup sifted flour (or a tad less for “lazy” flour – that’s what I do)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Chocolate Espresso Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)
Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (for garnish on top of cake)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour two cake pans.
2.) In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and instant coffee. Set aside.
3.) Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Slowly add eggs with mixer on slowest setting.
4.) Alternate adding flour/cocoa mixture and buttermilk. Beat just until all ingredients are fully incorporated, but do not over-beat.
5.) Divide batter equally between the two cake pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Espresso Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp instant coffee
1 box powdered sugar (16 oz)
1 tbsp half and half

1.) Cream butter and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add cocoa powder and instant coffee. Slowly add powdered sugar and then add half and half. Beat until smooth.

To frost the cake…

1.) Place first layer of cake on a cake plate. Place a scoop of frosting on the cake and spread evenly. This one doesn’t have to be pretty.
2.) Place the second layer on top of the first. Make sure the side that was in the bottom of the cake plate is face up (it frosts easier). Start with icing the sides of the cake. Put a decent amount of icing on an offset spatula and rotate cake spreading frosting in a straight line around the cake. Apply more frosting about every 4 to 5 inches.
3.) Using the remaining frosting, place large spoonfuls around the top of the cake. Starting in the center of the cake, spread the in a circular motion toward the outside edges. Make sure the frosting stays thick, or else it will pull up the top of the cake.
4.) Using a large knife, shave Hershey’s bar by chopping it very thin. Then chop perpendicular to the first cut to achieve fine shavings. Sprinkle chocolate shaving on top of cake.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

A brunch at Brogan’s school this week meant I was baking on a weeknight.  I decided on this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake because first, I have made it before and it was excellent, second, it was pretty easy, and third, I had everything on hand.  Grocery shopping is not a Monday through Friday activity for me.

This is called a cake, but it’s closer to a bread to me – either way it’s perfect for breakfast or brunch.  I found this on Pinterest and modified the original recipe by using buttermilk instead of heavy cream, a little more sugar and modifying the temp and cooking time (the first time I made it this took forever to cook!) This cake is moist and full of sweet lemony flavor.  The poppy seeds add a little texture and a nice nutty flavor.  It’s very good, take my word!

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp poppy seeds
1 stick of butter (room temp)
1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons (about 2 tbsp)
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Jam

*If you’re too lazy to sift the flour (like me), just use a little less. 

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 12″ x 4″ loaf pan.
2.) Stir together the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt in a large bowl.
3.) Using a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar, buttermilk and lemon zest and beat until creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Add vegetable oil, vanilla and lemon juice.  Beat well to incorporate.
4.) Add in the flour mixture a little at a time, beating on low just until fully combined.  Pour batter into loaf pan.
5.) Bake for 65 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure it’s done in the middle.  Serve with jam on top – fig preserves are my favorite!

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Modified from Cafe Fernando’s Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.