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COLUMN: Recreating the perfect mint chocolate cake

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By Deanna Godman

Several years ago, my husband and I enjoyed White Christmas at Derby Dinner Playhouse in Indiana. We rarely get to have a date night, so to make it extra special we even ordered dessert. If there is dessert around, I generally go for the chocolate one, and this time was no exception. This cake contained a fluffy crème de mint filling that I was so impressed by that I took a picture.
Ever since that date night, I have tried to recreate the cake with limited success. I have a standby chocolate cake recipe that I like to use: the Perfectly Chocolate cake and icing recipe from the Hershey’s cocoa can. It’s not the same cake, but I like it so much that is not important. It is the filling that I would like to get just right.
The first time I tried to make a peppermint cream cheese frosting. I quickly realized that it was not right, but I did not want to waste the ingredients. I added cocoa and chopped Andes mints, and used it anyway.
Most recently, I tried a buttercream recipe that is very similar to homemade butter mints. I did an Internet search for crème de mint chocolate cakes, and found a recipe I wanted to try. I could not find crème de mint extract, and did not want to use the alcoholic version because I was planning to serve it on Christmas Eve with children present. Instead, I purchased mint extract, which is a mix of spearmint and peppermint.
Unfortunately, the mixture came out smelling like toothpaste or gum. The reason probably had a lot to do with the quantity of extract that I used. The recipe called for 6 tablespoons of crème de mint. I did not consider that the extract would be stronger than the liquor and used the entire bottle, which was only 4 tablespoons. I had to add milk to thin the mixture enough to mix it.
To tone down the flavor some, I also added vanilla.
The cake ended up falling apart anyway, so I made a chocolate mint trifle with it. I put a layer of cake in the bottom of a large glass bowl, put a thin layer of the mint buttercream on it, and then covered that with chocolate frosting. Then another layer of cake and more frosting went on top. I used less than a quarter of the mint buttercream. Unfortunately the rest was thrown away. It just tasted strange.
I am not giving up on my quest for a chocolate mint cake though. I now have crème de mint flavoring oil and that will be my next experiment. I do love to adapt recipes that I find, but next time I will try to find a recipe that uses the exact ingredients I have — especially if I am under the “high” stress of planning the Christmas dessert.

 

Crème de mint filling

6 tablespoons softened butter
3 ½ cups unsifted confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons crème de mint

In a mixing bowl, beat 6 tablespoons of butter, sugar and crème de mint until fluffy. On a cake stand, put the layers together, dividing the filling between the layers for a three-layer cake.