Chocolate Peppermint Cake

 Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake

For the Cake:
14 ounces semisweet chocolate
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or a bit less table salt)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) small-diced Peppermint Pattie candies (See Note)

For the Ganache Topping:
1 cup cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Optional Garnishes
Mint Syrup, optional (recipe below)
Fresh whole mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 1/2- to 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.

For the Cake, melt the chocolate with the butter and cream in the top of a double boiler. Reserve.

In the bowl of a mixer with a whip, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very thick and light (about 5 minutes).

Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix till just blended. Add the flour, salt and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice. Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl and stir in the Peppermint Pattie pieces. The mixture will be quite thick.

In a clean, dry mixing bowl, with a clean, dry whip, beat the egg whites to medium soft peaks. Lighten the batter by stirring in about one-third of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining egg whites and place the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake about 45 to 50 minutes (but checking earlier to avoid overbaking). The top of the cake will feel set and very fine hairline cracks will just start to form around the edges. Remove from oven and cool the pan on a wire rack.

For the Ganache Topping, heat the cream in a heavy saucepan to just under a boil. Add the chopped chocolate and, over very low heat, constantly stirring, cook the mixture until it is completely smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable. This can take several hours. The cooling can be quickened by gently stirring the ganache over an ice bath, but the result may not be as smooth and creamy. Topping can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

Place cooled cake upside down on a cardboard cake circle or a serving plate. Remove sides and bottom of the springform pan. Remove the parchment liner. Using an offset spatula, decoratively spread the ganache over what is now the top of the cake, drawing the ganache all the way out to the edges of the cake. Using the offset spatula, level the edges to give the cake a finished look. Cut cake with a hot, dry long-bladed knife. Serve at room temperature, drizzling individual plates with Mint Syrup and garnishing with fresh mint leaves if desired.

Note: To get a clean dice and distinct pieces of Peppermint Pattie, try freezing the candy first, for about 30 minutes or until firm.

Makes 12 servings.

Mint Syrup

1 1/4 cups water (plus more for blanching mint leaves)
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups packed mint leaves

Combine the 1 1/4 cups water and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat down and simmer several minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely. Reserve.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Have a strainer and bowl of ice water at the ready. Working quickly, place mint leaves in the boiling water and blanch till just wilted (about 10 seconds). Immediately strain mint and place leaves directly in the ice water to set their color. Strain the mint again, pressing to remove excess liquid.

Place mint leaves and half of the reserved syrup in a blender. Puree the mint, stopping several times to scrape down the blender bowl. Add the remaining syrup and blend for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a clean storage container and allow to sit overnight, covered, at room temperature.

Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solid mint puree. Cover and refrigerate the syrup for up to two weeks. Shake or stir lightly before using.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Adapted from Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker’s American Desserts


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