Sunday, October 9, 2011

Busy Cooking: 1000 eyed Monster Grasshopper Cake

A couple weeks ago, my daughter got stitches in her eyebrow.  I let her be the "special person" of the week and choose the dessert that I'd make for Friday night.  The next week, my son wanted to choose the special dessert, and thus a tradition was born that each week, one of my kids gets to choose a dessert for Friday night.  The pictures of Hazel's cake didn't come out that great and Addison chose a hot fudge cake last week, which wasn't anything to write home about.  This one, however- WOW!

Owen wanted a chocolate cake with turquoise frosting and decorated like a monster.  I had just bought some candy eyeballs for decorating at the grocery store, love those things!   My son is reading a book called the Beast with the 1000 Eyes, hence the other inspiration for the cake decor. I figured it'd be appropriate to have my first Halloween post be something in the kitchen;)
I was thumbing through my cookbooks looking for a new chocolate layer cake recipe to try, when I remembered reading the title "Grasshopper cake" in my new favorite dessert cookbook, Baked, New Frontiers in Baking.  If you like dessert and want recipes that come out delicious, get this cookbook, you won't be disappointed.  The Brownies are AMAZING!!! If I ever get a good picture of them, I'll post it.

This chocolate cake was really good, good enough that I could have eaten it on its own without icing.  It was a recipe for a triple layer cake, but that seemed like too much to me.  I ended up making a double layer cake and seven cupcakes.  The cake layers were each topped with a small layer of mint chocolate ganache, followed by mint buttercream icing.  The icing was really light and fluffy, kind of like a swiss meringue buttercream, but without having to go through the hassle of cooking the egg whites to a certain temperature.  I've never made icing this way and it came out soo good, in fact, my husband told me it's the best frosting I've ever made.
If you have the time, I'd highly recommend giving this one a whirl, it won't disappoint the chocolate and mint lovers out there.  It's not too overwhelming either, it's just the right balance.

Oven:  325

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup crisco
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
1 TBSP vanilla

Mint Buttercream Icing:
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 sticks butter (they used 4 1/2 sticks- I cannot use that much butter, just can't)
2 TBSP vanilla (they used creme de menthe)
2 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
food coloring (if desired)

Chocolate Mint Ganache:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP vanilla (they used creme de menthe)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

For the cake:
1)  Preheat the oven, line the bottoms of your cake pans with parchment paper, grease and flour the sides.  (This is enough for 3 8 inch cakes or 2 cakes and 7-8 large cupcakes).

2) In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set aside.

3) In another medium bowl, combine cocoa powder, sour cream, and hot water, set aside.

4) In bowl of mixer with paddle attachment, cream sugar, brown sugar, butter, and crisco on medium high until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides.  Add in eggs one by one, scrape down sides.  Beat in vanilla.

5) Alternating with the flour mixture, add cocoa mixture in three additions.  Mix lightly until just combined.  Scrape down sides, mix one more time.  Divide batter between cake pans (about 2/3 full).  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.   Cupcakes bake about 18-22 minutes.

6) Remove cakes from oven, let cool on wire rack about 20 minutes before removing from pan, let cool rest of way on racks.

For the ganache:
1) While cake is cooling, heat cream in small sauce pan until comes to a light simmer.  Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla and peppermint extract, whisk together until smooth. Set aside

For the mint buttercream:
1) Put sugar and flour in a medium saucepan, whisk to combine.  Stir in milk and cream, heat over medium to boiling.  Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom.  Once it boils, mixture will thicken.  Once mixture thickens, remove from burner and place in bowl of mixer with paddle and mix on high until it cools (mine turned a slightly greyish color).

2) Once the mixture cools, add in pats of butter slowly at medium low speed.  Once butter is added, turn mixing speed up to medium high, after a few minutes, you should notice the icing gets thicker and jiggly like jello.  Stop the mixer, add in vanilla, peppermint extract, and food coloring, beat on high one minute longer to get it all combined.  When you stop mixing, the icing should look soft and shiny, but retain it's shape, for instance, if you put your finger in and pull it out, there should remain a little point from where your finger left the icing.  (You can chill it slightly to thicken it, but then it will probably soften again at room temp or heat it over a double boiler to thin it if it's too thick).
Assemble the cake:
1) Put your first layer on a plate or cake stand.  Trim the top to make it straight and flat.  Put about 1/4 cup of the mint ganache on and spread it out to the edges.  Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to let it set.  Put 1 1/4 cups mint butter cream on top and spread to the edges.  Put second layer on and repeat ganache and butter cream- repeat with a third layer if you chose to use one.

2) Put a light coat of frosting all around the edges and smooth down (this is a crumb coat)- refrigerate for about 10 minutes to let it set.  Now, frost the edges and top.  I too the icing in a decorating bag with a star tip and dolloped it randomly all over the top and sides to give it a monster fur look.  Then, I took the remaining mint ganache and did the same.  The kids put eyeballs in the ganache.  You can refrigerate or leave at room temp for up to 3 days.

This cake was so good, it almost tops my favorite over chocolate chip cookie dough cake (almost).

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