Mint chocolate chip cake

Fall officially arrives in a couple of days and we've definitely been making the transition from summer to our more typical routine.  The school year started almost two weeks ago and it's kind of momentous for us because our "little" guy started middle school!!  It's time to celebrate - time for cake!
It's become a little bit of a tradition for me to make a back-to-school cake; last year, I made Baked Alaska.  This year, I tried this mint chocolate chip cake you see here. Frankly, it's just fun to have an excuse to celebrate and a reason to try one of the cake recipes I've bookmarked.  
This was a recipe I bookmarked from America's Test Kitchen.  I scaled things down and made this 6-inch, two-layer, version.  It was an interesting experience because I have hardly any familiarity with making a white cake, which this one is.  I felt a little uncertain along the way but gave it my best shot since mint chocolate chip really sounded like a cake my son would enjoy.  
Aside from the chocolate chips settling to the bottom of my cake layers instead of being nicely interspersed throughout the cake, I think this endeavor worked out pretty well. The cake was moist and fluffy, with a cool mint flavor from peppermint extract. The frosting is chocolaty, smooth, and rich.  Studded with more mini chocolate chips on the outside, you have plenty of chocolate represented here, which is how we like our cakes!  Mostly importantly, my newly "minted" middle schooler thought it was "really good" and we all enjoyed digging into it.  
It's nice to stop and enjoy simple things like a piece of cake with my family.  These are crazy times and on a micro level, the last couple of weeks have been very busy, as we try to navigate the new structures of middle school.  My son just returned from a night of sleep-away camp with his fellow 6th graders and it felt so good to be back together at the dining table again (even if he was only gone for a day and a half). There are certainly changes happening and things yet to figure out but change is usually good and so far, so good (I say, with fingers-crossed).  Here's to a smooth school year ahead!

I first saw this cake arrive in my inbox many months ago from America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country.  Thinking how much my little one (and I) love mint chocolate chip, I saved it for a good occasion to give it a try. 
I confused matters with my usual routine of scaling cakes down to a more "manageable" size for my family of 3.  Instead of making a three-layer, 8-inch round cake, I divided the recipe in half and baked two 6-inch layers.  

The recipe that arrived in my inbox referred to a white cake recipe that I didn't have access to, not being an America Test Kitchen member, but I tracked it down via epicurious.  I must confess my moments of worry with the cake layers.  I was concerned that the cake flour measurement was wrong; 4.5 ounces of cake flour equating with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sounded short and when the batter looked quite wet (and slightly curdled) going into the oven, I was a little worried.  I'll also confessed that I added almond extract into the cake before realizing/remembering that I would add peppermint extract to turn it into the mint chocolate chip version! (I've omitted it in the recipe listed below but luckily, taste-wise, we didn't think the almond and peppermint extract combination was an issue; the cake still tasted cool and pepperminty.)
Folding mini chocolate chips, a couple drops of green coloring, and peppermint extract into the base white cake batter
So I sent the cake pans into the oven with fingers-crossed, hoping for the best. Luckily, after about 25 minutes, the cakes were baked and set.  It seemed moist and tender and there were no issues other than the chocolate chips sinking to the bottom of the layers.  
The chocolate frosting was a lot less tricky for me!  Starting with 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, the buttercream frosting has plenty of chocolate flavor and plenty of richness.  It is super creamy...
I decided to invert the top layer and use the flat bottom as the top of my cake - that's why you see most of the chocolate chips at the top in that layer.  
I thought about forgoing the chocolate chips on the side of the cake but who was I kidding...more chocolate is always better!  And honestly, someone needs to invent some sort of chocolate chip extruding device because putting the chocolate chips onto the sides of the cake without making a mess was difficult.  Before long, I was essentially throwing the chips at the cake and hoping to make contact.   
I was a little nervous at the cake tasting moment...but the cake was light, moist, and fluffy.  No doubt, it is mint chocolate chip (essentially, it is just that - minty and chocolaty) and in our house, that is a very good thing!
One regret with making this cake is I'm left with 3 egg yolks.  I simply don't have the time or energy right now to make a batch of ice cream with it so I think I'm actually just going to have to live with the waste this time.  You just can't win 'em all!
Well, I leave you with this cake and sweet thoughts in general.  I'm off to get ready for back-to-school night...

Recipe:

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated (cake layer recipe can be found via epicurious)

- For a two-layer, 6-inch round cake - 

For cake layers:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4.5 ounces) cake flour
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
2 drops green food coloring
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

For chocolate frosting:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces and softened
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

For decorating: about 1 cup miniature chocolate chips

Make cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack set in the middle position. Grease two 6-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, grease the paper, and dust pans with flour, tapping out excess; alternatively, use baking spray. 

In a measuring cup, combine milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract, blending with a fork.  Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix together on low speed.  Add butter, continuing to mix on low speed until mixture looks like moist crumbs, without any white streaks.  Add all but 1/4 cup of the milk mixture and beat at medium speed for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Add the remainder of the milk mixture and beat for 30 seconds.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, then beat batter for another 20 seconds on high speed.

Remove bowl from the stand mixer and stir in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, the food coloring and peppermint extract.  Divide batter evenly between the 2 prepared cake pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes.  

Remove cake pans from the oven, let cool a few minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the pans.  Remove the parchment paper and let cakes cool completely on a wire rack.

Make frosting: Place butter, melted chocolate, vanilla, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until combined.  Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually add confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, as needed.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat for about 3 minutes.  The frosting should be smooth and fluffy.

Assemble the cake: If necessary, trim the tops of the cake layers slightly to even them out.  Place one layer onto a serving plate.  Tuck strips of parchment paper around the bottom of the cake for easy clean-up later.  Place a big dollop of frosting on top of the cake (about a half cup) and spread.  Place the second cake layer (I placed the flat-side up) and spread the remaining frosting on top and around the cake. Press chocolate chips (I basically "throw" them on) around the sides of the cake. Carefully remove the parchment strips from the cake.  Serve and enjoy this minty, chocolaty cake!





35 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Lots of chocolate and that's the BEST part of this layered cake.

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    1. Thanks - it smells like mint chocolate chip ice cream to me. haha

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  2. Back to school is the best excuse for a cake! And this is an awesome cake... Love the surprise green :)

    Sues

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    1. I think it's okay to use a few drops of food coloring for a 'good' cause on occasion. ; )

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  3. This sounds divine and I love that it's green inside!

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  4. Oh Monica, I was so surprise by the greenish cake layers in between...so cute and yes, chocolate and peppermint is a great combination.
    Have a wonderful week ahead :)

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    1. haha - yes, that is fun, isn't it?! Thanks, Juliana.

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  5. Ohhhhhh Monica you are such a sweet mum - I love that tradition "cake back to school" I must admit that your baking skills are impressive... This is divine :-)

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    1. You are very kind. I am actually wondering what you must be thinking with this "green" cake - compared to the intricate pastries you are used to. haha - thank you!

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    2. Sweetie, I totally adore and want to taste it - I love mint and I think the colour makes it even more appealing :)

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    3. Oh, thank you again! I appreciate it.

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    4. Lots of love....please dear keep the smile :) I truly wish you a great weekend :)

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  6. This looks gorgeous.Love the color combo and the flavor. Wish I could grab a slice right now.

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    1. The fellas enjoyed it so I'm happy. I can't resist liking the tint of green, too. : )

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  7. You are the sweetest mom to bake a cake for back to school :) It looks delicious - chocolate and mint is always a winning choice! Haha, so cute that you started throwing the chocolate chips on the sides o the cake too - I have definitely done that before ;) Hope your son is enjoying middle school so far!

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    1. ha - not at all. Just looking for an excuse to make cake! And I bet you could give me some good pointers on making a white cake! I was worried for a while here but glad it worked out alright. : ) Middle school is good so far but homework hasn't ramped up yet. ; )

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  8. Monica, this is adorable. I just want a nice big slice. Maybe two, Hahha..

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    1. Thanks so much, Bal. This is a small cake so two slices it is!

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  9. I love your annual tradition of celebrating back to school. It's so nice when the children don't dread going back to their friends, and all that homework! The cake is absolutely beautiful and I bet it is delicious. You can never have too many chocolate chips and the extra on the side is perfect. I always have anxiety with cakes too - but you did a fantastic job and always do. Have a wonderful school year!

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    1. Thanks so much, Tricia. I appreciate your encouragement, always. : )

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  10. Seriously that top down photo is just stunning. So perfect are the slices. Your family is so lucky to have a happy baker. You see I love to eat baked goods but I just don't like to be bothered with measuring or weighing..LOL I will just come to your house instead.

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    1. Bobbi, you are such a good, creative cook that it would almost be "too much" if you also enjoyed baking! : )

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  11. Such a great tradition to start the school year. The cake looks delicious. I love mint and chocolate, one of my all time favorites.

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  12. Happy Fall, Monica. This chocoalte and mint cake is a stunner. I just can’t get enough of chocolate, especially when the weather gets cooler. This mint chocolate chip cake looks amazing. I love that chocoalte frosting. Such a delicious treat!

    Anu
    http://www.mygingergarlickitchen.com/

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    1. Yes, Fall is officially here! It's still nice and warm here and I hope it lasts a bit longer. I just want to sit down, eat cake, and relax... : )

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  13. Such a pretty little cake. And that frosting looks really good, I can only think about sticking a finger in it! :)

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    1. Oh yes...my husband loved the frosting. I had a lot and it's very fluffy and soft, and chocolaty....

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  14. What an awesome way to welcome fall and new school year!

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    1. Thanks, Katerina. Hope you are transitioning into fall nicely...

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  15. Holy moly, you are a cake GOD! This looks gorgeous!

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    1. Oh gosh, no! I'm not being humble when I say I'm sure you could do better than I did with this cake. : ) Glad you like it though!

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  16. When I first saw the photo I knew it's going to be delicious! It looks so cute with the mini chips decorating it. Maybe you can freeze the egg yolks next time instead of throwing them out? They are good for last minute pastry creams, lemon curds ;)

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    1. Thanks, Jasline. I did end up using one of the yolks but honestly, I have never frozen egg yolks. You know how the top forms this crust after a while...I've heard you need to freeze it with some liquid and I'm just not sure how to do it. If anyone does it and can offer advice, I'd love to hear it!

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