Friday, December 27, 2013

Moist Chocolate Layer Cake with Peppermint Cream

Seems like the pumpkin phase just left us, and now it's Peppermint!  As I was putting away all the Christmas decor, it seemed such a shame to just toss the peppermint candy.  At a recent Relief Society dinner, my wonderful friend Pat (who is a fabulous caterer) served a delicious dessert.  Using a Costco American Chocolate Layer Cake, she stepped it up a notch by topping slices with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy.  

I did a lot of searching online for a similar type of cake, and found one on King Arthur Flour website.  It guides you through a unique mixing method where the fats (butter & oil) are incorporated into the dry ingredients first, then adding the liquids and eggs.  I thought it looked interesting, and it turned out well.  A little more bother than I usually like to go to, but I would make it again. 

It is a moist, rich cake - but not overly so.  That makes it a good recipe for topping with a decadent frosting, or even dusted with powdered sugar.  It becomes more moist the longer it stands.  With a cake this size, it was in my kitchen for over 2 weeks through the Christmas holidays.  We chipped away at it, and it was more moist every time we had a little slice.  

Moist Chocolate Layer Cake  

2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1-3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, very soft
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
4 large eggs

Prepare your pans first.  This recipe works well with either of these options:  three 8" rounds, two 9" rounds, one 9" x 13" pan, or two muffin tins (24 cupcakes).  Preheat oven to 350°.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl.  Measure in all the dry ingredients.  Sift/shake into the bowl to eliminate lumps (this was faster than I anticipated and worked well)

*Key to success with this recipe is having your milk, butter, and eggs at room temperature.  You can speed this up by placing your eggs in warm water for about 5 minutes, and also heating your milk briefly in the microwave (about 20-30 seconds)

Add the butter and mix at low speed for about a minute.  Now add the oil and continue mixing until it resembles coarse sand.  

Combine the water, milk, and vanilla - adding all at once to the dry ingredients.  Mix for about 1 minute, then scrape bowl and mix 30 seconds more.

Now add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of bowl often.  Batter will be thin.  Transfer batter to prepared pans, smoothing in the pan with an offset spatula.  For cupcakes, measure a heaping 1/4 cup into each well.  Bake about 34 minutes for 9" x 13" pan, 28 minutes for 9" layers, 24-26 minutes for 8" layers, 21-23 minutes for cupcakes.

Cake is done when top springs back when touched lightly with finger in center.   The cake will begin to pull away from the sides as well.  Allow to cool, then decorate as desired.

Peppermint Cream:  Whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Top slices with cream as desired, and garnish with crushed peppermint candy.  Serve immediately.

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