Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Cake

Welcome back to the blog! I know it's been a while, but that just seems to be how it is these days. :-)

I'm going to be teaching a baking class at my church in October, and I needed to decide early what I want to bake. We wanted something Christmas-y, since October is now (according to most American retailers) the beginning of the holiday season. After much vacillating, waffling, hemming and hawing, I decided on a chocolate cake with peppermint frosting. Because cake.

I tried really hard to take better pictures this time. I'm pretty sure I failed, but the effort was there, I promise! I even went on the internet to see how other bloggers staged their cakes for photos. I went down to my basement and found a white plate! THAT is dedication right there.

This is the same chocolate cake I always make because, really, it's the best.

Start out by gathering your stuff. Here's some of the stuff you'll need.

The first thing you'll do is to mix some boiling water and cocoa powder in a bowl or large measuring cup and whisk until smooth. Go ahead and let that cool. It will take a LONG time. You could even do this part the day before and put it in the fridge.

Second, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a bowl and whisk to combine. I never sift; I whisk instead.

Moving right along, cream the butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes. Don't skimp on this part. In fact, now is a good time to get your baking pans ready. Go ahead, the mixer isn't going anywhere.

Grease and flour 2 8-inch round pans. I use homemade cake release, but shortening and flour work just fine, too.

Once the butter and sugar are good and fluffy add the eggs one at a time and blend thoroughly after each. Free tip of the day: Never crack your eggs directly into your mixing bowl. If you have a bad egg your batter will be ruined. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, then add them to the mixer.

After the eggs are blended, add the vanilla and stir to combine.

Here's where things get a little weird. Take the mixing bowl off of the mixer and grab a nice wooden spoon. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour in three batches. Stir by hand after each addition. (I do this because I tend to get a little carried away with the mixer. And cakes do NOT like to be over-mixed. Trust me.)

So it will be flour, cocoa, flour, cocoa, flour. When you're all done it will look like this here:

Stir it a few more times to get rid of the lumps, but don't overdo it. Be sure to get all of the batter from the bottom of the bowl mixed well. Use a rubber spatula if you have to. Now, divide your batter into the two cake pans you prepared while the butter and sugar were creaming.

Tap them firmly on the counter a few times to get the air bubbles to pop. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes and they should look like this:

Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge and pop them out of the pans and onto a cooling rack.

Once they're completely cool, cut the domes off and get ready to frost! Mmm...frosting...

Because this is a chocolate cake and I'm using white frosting, I went ahead and did a crumb coat. I don't always, just depends on the cake.

See, I even put it on a nice plate! After frosting, crush some candy canes, or, if it's late August, some Starlight mints, and sprinkle them liberally on the cake.

Now cut a big piece and enjoy yourself!

So, what do you think, is this Christmas-y enough? I certainly hope so.

Here's the recipe:

Dark Chocolate Cake

2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F, grease and flour 2 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside. Combine boiling water and cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool to at least room temperature. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, whisk to combine. Set aside.

Cream together sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, for 4-5 minutes or until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake in a 350 F oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Peppermint Frosting

1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp peppermint extract (use more or less to taste)
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream
Peppermint candies (crushed) for garnish

Mix butter, shortening, salt and peppermint extract in the bowl of a stand mixer until well-combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated. Add cream until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. Beat for 5 minutes on high speed. Frost the cooled cake and garnish with crushed peppermint candies.

Well, that's all for now.

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