The Chocolate Peppermint Challenge

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January 3, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

I was obsessed with a plan of making a Chocolate Peppermint Cake for the holidays. I totally fixated on the idea of a warm, chocolatey cake with a sharp bite of mint. I had visions of decorating the plate with crushed peppermint candies and fluffy whipped cream. Everyone at the table would proclaim, “This is the perfect Christmas dessert” and I would be the holiday hero.

I had no idea the challenge I would face in finding pepperminty ingredients. For starters, I saw only one store that even sold candy canes. ONE. And they were going for 50 pence a pop!? Alas, I resigned to decorating the cake with a dusting of white snowy powdered sugar. Close enough, as long as it tastes good, right?

Next, I knew I wanted to chop up chocolate mint candies into the batter- something along the lines of Andes or Ghirardelli squares. No luck. Three different grocery stores and finally I found one bar of Lindt mint chocolate. I’m beginning to wonder what the British aversion to the blissful combination of chocolate and mint is.

On the same shopping excursion, I made a mental note that said grocery store had peppermint extract. Perfect. So why didn’t I buy it?! Who knows. I was in a hurry. I wanted to double check my list at home and get all the baking items at once. I had a coupon at another store so I wanted to check there first. Whatever the reason: STUPID. Upon return, the day before Christmas Eve, of course they were sold out. And being two days before Christmas, the likelihood of a restocked shelf was slim. Plus I wanted to get this thing baked.

“No fear, I’ll substitute peppermint schnapps!! In fact, this is a better idea,” I thought. Now I’ll have leftovers to spike hot chocolate. Everyone loves a boozy winter treat. So I head to the liquor section of the store. Nothing. Clearly.

Well, I’ll just have to wait until I get home and pop over to one of our two off licences (convenience stores that sell liquor) to pick some schnapps up. And what do you know… these guys, at both stores, looked at me like a crazy person. Apparently they had never even heard of schnapps with peppermint flavoring. One shop did offer me an orange flavored substitute. Ugh.

Last chance here kids. I cross the street to our corner grocery store. Why not check one more? I mean, at this point I’ve gone into 5 places, what’s a 6th? And you guessed it, zilch, nada. But what they did have was a beautiful bundle of fresh mint. So I figured buy that and make it work.

And make it work, I did! In the end I steeped the mint into milk and used that in the base of the cake. Along with the mint chocolate bar, this cake actually turned out amazing!! There was a subtle hint of mint throughout and when you got a chocolate chunk bite it really popped.

So here’s my chocolate mint creation. Oh, and if you want a bigger mint punch, feel free to add about 1 tsp of peppermint extract or possibly drizzle a bit of schnapps on the baked cake, if you are so lucky as to access these items. But honestly, I don’t know that it needs it!

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First, roughly chop 1/4 cup fresh mint and heat it over very low heat with milk in a small saucepan.

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One it comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.

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Meanwhile mix the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt in one bowl and the sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs in another. Also, chop your chocolate bar into small chunks.

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Blend the flour alternately with the butter and the strained milk until all ingredients are combined. Then stir in the chocolate chunks and pour batter into a greased bundt pan.

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Garnish with fresh whipped cream and mint, or crushed peppermint candies if you can find them!

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Chocolate Mint Cake

Serves 8

2 ½ cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ cup cocoa powder

7 oz. butter

1 ½ cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 cup milk

¼ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped

4 oz. Mint Chocolate Bar, chopped

Preheat oven to 325˚ F.

In a small saucepan, over very low heat, combine the milk and fresh mint. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Let sit for 20 minutes, then strain.

Meanwhile, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

Separately, using a hand blender, cream the butter, vanilla, and sugar. Once smooth, add the eggs, one at a time, until creamy and light.

Once the milk is strained, alternately add the butter mixture and the milk mixture to the flour mixture until all ingredients are combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks.

Pour the batter into a greased bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check to make sure a toothpick comes out clean before removing from the oven.

Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert gently onto a cooling rack until it has cooled completely.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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