I must admit that Valentines Day sneaked up on me this year. It wasn’t until last night that I realized how close we actually are to the big event and what little work I had done so far to prepare. Heck, in this house the school party preparation alone is a multi-hour endeavor.
As a result, my Sunday evening was officially sucked into the Valentine vortex of cards, cookies and candy. Cards for the boys classes, candy for the school time masses, cookies for the parties and a holiday dinner menu to plan and prepare for said mom and dad. All that being uttered, I couldn’t let the holiday madness escape my grasp without leaving at least one sweet treat in it’s wake. It is, after all, a day to celebrate love. Love of family, love of friends and most notably, love of dessert.
If you’ve ever eaten out at a restaurant, grabbed an Andes Mint on your way out the door, popped it into your mouth and proclaimed it the best bite of the night, then you’re going to be all over this cake like the shiny red of a holiday heart. Envision three layers of moist chocolate confection with just a hint of mint flavor for interest. Now sandwich it with a thick, creamy spread of smooth as silk Swiss butter cream frosting and top with a pour of Andes chocolate mint ganache. Oh, and don’t forget the bonus candy sprinkled over the top. Solely for looks, of course.
This cake takes a bit of time to put together but trust me when I tell you that it is well worth the effort. Let’s begin with the cake batter.
Grab up a medium sized bowl and drop in a few forms of chocolate including a bar of dark, a little cocoa and, of course, some Andes mints.
Pour a cup of boiling water over the top and let the chocolate melt down.
Turning back to your mixer, cream up a little sugar and butter. Add in some vanilla, a few eggs and a cup of mayo.
Grab one more bowl and add in some dry ingredients to round out the batter.
Alternating additions, add a bit of the chocolate and then a bit of the flour. Be sure to spin the mixer after each addition.
Pour into prepared pans and bake. Be sure to lick the beater when no one’s looking. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Alright, your cakes are out and cooling which means it’s time to whip up some frosting.
I’m honestly not sure how it took me nearly two years of blogging before I decided to finally give Swiss butter cream a go. Maybe it was the cooking aspect that deterred me away or perhaps the fact that I thought it was more complicated than it actually was. Regardless of the reason, I decided that a holiday such as this deserved a passion worthy frosting, so I set aside my fears and plunged into a whole new world of sweet spreading goodness.
Guys, this stuff is A.mazing. If you’ve never attempted Swiss butter cream before, now’s the time to take a stand. It’s not nearly as difficult as it looks and I’m telling ya, it makes standard butter cream look like child’s play. I can almost hear Jasmine from Aladdin as we speak singing “A Whole New World”. It’s just that good.
First up, the cooking part. Mix together six egg whites and a hearty cup of sugar. Grab a double boiler, get it warm and add in the egg whites. Heat ‘em up, whisking frequently, until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. This will serve the purpose of both dissolving the sugar and cooking the egg.
Transfer the heated egg mixture to a mixer and whisk it on medium high speed for about 5 minutes until it’s stiff, shiny and room temperature.
Drop the whisk back down in, turn it on medium low speed and start dropping in room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time until you’ve added enough in to butter about 10 loaves of bread. Finish it off with a splash of extract and you’re good to go.
If, by chance, your frosting starts to get lumpy and separate a bit while you’re adding the butter, don’t panic. Continue adding the rest in and then simply up the speed a bit and let it whip for a minute or two until the frosting comes back together.
You know the next step.
Finally, reserving about 8 mints for the top, grab up the rest and melt them along with a glug of cream in your double boiler.
As soon as it’s melted, remove from the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes to cool down a few degrees. Pour over the top of the cake.
If that’s not beautiful enough already, chop up the remaining pieces and sprinkle them across the top.
And seriously. Why even bother with a plate. All I need is a fork, a glass of wine and a holiday excuse to enjoy a slab of this sweet deliciousness.
Andes Mint Chocolate Cake
Total Time: 1 hour 30 min
For the Cake:
1 8 Oz. Bag Andes Mints
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
3 Oz. Dark Chocolate
1 Cup Boiling Water
11/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter (12 Tbsp or 3/4 pd)
11/2 Cups White Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Mayonnaise
3 Cups Flour
11/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
For the Frosting:
6 Egg Whites
11/4 Cup White Sugar
3 Sticks Room Temperature Butter (24 Tbsp or 1.5 pounds)
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1/4 Cup Cream
Toss about 3oz. of the andes candies into a bowl along with the cocoa powder and dark chocolate.
Pour the boiling water over the top and allow the chocolate to melt completely.
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and the two sugars.
Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
Add in the mayonnaise.
In a separate bowl combine the flour baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Alternate adding the flour and then the liquid chocolate to the creamed mixture, mixing after each addition.
Pour batter into three prepared 9" cake rounds and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
For the frosting mix together the egg whites and the sugar.
Place into a double boiler and heat until the temperature reaches 160 degrees, whisking often.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and whisk on medium high until stiff, glistening and room temperature; about 5 minutes.
Cube up the butter and add it in a bit at a time while whisking on medium speed.
If your frosting separates, simply up the speed and give it a minute or two to come back together.
Add in the vanilla and almond extract.
Frost the cooled cake.
Reserving about 8 of the remaining mints, place the rest into a double boiler along with the cream.
Once melted, remove from heat and let rest about 5 minutes to cool down. Drizzle over the top of the cake.
Chop the reserved mints and sprinkle over the top of the cake.