Saint Patrick’s Day Grasshopper Cake

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Why? …because it’s green!!! Yes, that was about my only criterea for this grasshopper cake. That and the fact that it comes from my new and favorite baking book “Baked”. Specifically from the first, “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” although I enjoy the second edition just as well. Anyways, back to the cake. I made it on the fly after having dogeared numerous recipes from the cookbook and debating over which of them to make that night. I finally decided on this one. Green and minty? Saint Patrick’s Day? Yes! Awesome? Yes! This cake is wicked! That same night, I decide to take a trip to my local craft shop to buy some awesome Thomas the Train stickers for my 2 year old daughter (a potty reward, gotta have the “potty chart”) when I came across a nifty set of baking pans. These pans have around a 4″ diameter with a small well in the center. Fill with your choice of filling and flip two on top of each other, frost, and voila! Instant filled mini-cake. Awesome! I decided the grasshopper cake would be perfect since it calls for a mint chocolate ganache as well as a creme de menthe frosting. Ganache filling? Yes! Actually, sadly, no. I did not make it to the grocery store for chocolate. And so on the fly this cake became frosting filled, sans vegetable shortening, and plus creme de menthe “candy” flavoring in place of real creme de menthe due to a lack of ingredients. It just goes to show that you don’t always need to have the exact ingredients to make a recipe, even in baking, as long as you use smart solutions. I’m posting the altered recipe, I’m sure it tasted just as good as the original (or not, I’ll never know!). And quite festive if I do say so myself! This recipe also uses a really cool technique for making a buttercream that I have never used before. It is absolutely amazing and gives the frosting an awesome creamy, thick texture without being cloyingly sweet from pounds of powdered sugar. Try it. Do it. (p.s. I also substituted half and half for milk and heavy cream with no problems. Try it. Who would’ve known? Me. Ha!)

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*Note: I halved this recipe, if making a triple layer cake, as intended in the original, you might want to double the recipe or do some research and find the original. Also, this would make a really great cupcake, especially with the original ganache filling in the center, just a thought!

Classic Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups or 2 sticks plus 2 tbl salted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 jumbo egg or 1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract

Preheat the over to 325 degrees F. Spray the inside of your baking pans with nonstick spray or butter and flour, tapping out any excess.

In a medium bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside to cool.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the vanilla, scraping down the sides, and beating for another 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the pans, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

Creme de Menthe Buttercream

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup half and half
2 sticks salted butter
2 drops creme de menthe candy flavoring (or to taste)
1/4 t peppermint extract
green gel food coloring

In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the half and half and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, 10-20 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the extracts/flavorings and mix until combined. Frost any way you like (be creative!) and enjoy!