A CAKE A WEEK: Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake is a dessert that dazzles
Erin Mann | Contributor
I look forward to the Girl Scout cookie sale every year. When I see the cookie table in front of the grocery store and a young girl asks me sweetly, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” I’m always sure to pick up a box or two (or three.) I stick to the classics like Peanut Butter Patties and Thin Mints.
If there were an eating contest for Thin Mints, I’d be the Kobayashi of the competitive cookie-eating world — I can polish off a sleeve of those babies in the blink of an eye.
It’s no secret I love the combination of chocolate and mint. I ate so many mint M&Ms at my mother’s house one Christmas it’s now tradition she buys me a bag to take home with me. At holiday parties, I can be found circling the peppermint bark like a hawk in search of prey. In the off-season, I get my fix with Breyer’s mint chocolate chip ice cream, which, conveniently, I can find all year-round at most major supermarkets. When you love something this much, it’s good to have a dependable option.
This week’s Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie cake could quickly become a dessert I can depend on to satisfy my cravings for chocolate and mint. This rich chocolate cake, dotted with Peppermint Pattie candies, is covered in a thick layer of chocolate ganache and served with a chocolate sauce, a mint syrup, and a dollop of whipped cream (if that’s how you roll.)
I recently returned from a week-long trip to New York City and brought home a head cold as my souvenir, so I spent the greater part of the week nestled in bed with a box of tissues watching countless episodes of Damages. Preparing the cake and its various components easily takes an entire afternoon. Had I felt better, I would have made the mint syrup and the chocolate sauce a day or two ahead of time and stored them in the fridge.
To speed the cake making process, I asked for help. Best friends, family members and significant others are particularly good for this sort of thing, provided you can spend a couple hours with each other in the close proximity of the kitchen. (There is plenty of chocolate involved and it could get messy.) I put Rex to work chopping peppermint pattie candies for the cake and wielding the stick blender for the mint syrup. We manned our stations side by side at the stove top; he melted the chocolate into the cream for the ganache as I combined the ingredients for the chocolate sauce. As recommended in the recipe, I ran the ganache and chocolate sauce through a fine mesh strainer. For maximum minty flavor, don’t strain the syrup until after it has cooled completely.
I mixed the cake and poured the thick batter into a springform pan. As the cake was baking, I washed the mountain of dishes we’d dirtied. I swear, they multiplied like Gremlins and instead of water, their reproduction was spurred by chocolate.
This cake will try to trick you — it will appear that it's done when the top looks dry and starts to crack, but the cake is very dense and moist, so let your toothpick test guide you.
Ganache is wonderful. It’s so simple to make, tastes great and is a very forgiving frosting. I spread ganache on the cooled cake and used the back of a spoon to add a wavy texture. I don't consider myself much of an artist when it comes to food presentation, but this cake encourages creativity. I put some of the chocolate sauce in a plastic zip top bag and snipped the corner off with scissors to make a faux pastry bag. As I squeezed the bag I moved my hand back and forth across the cake in an “S” shape. A drizzle of mint sauce over the cake slice and a bit on the plate for a little color and VoilÃ ! — one dazzling dessert, restaurant-worthy, even.