Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chocolate Andes Mint Cake

 Here is the slightly catastrophic, but delicious, Andes mint cake I made for my sister Jenn's 23rd birthday this year.
 Here's the actual undecorated cake with the chocolate ganache coating.

 It all started when I found these. These are Duff's (from Ace of Cakes) new "cake tattoo's" that you put on cake easily decorate flawless cakes. And look how beautiful and easy they all look. Cool, right? I thought I would try it.
 
Here's the one I bought, It was the "Happy Birthday" one, and I thought the pinstripes would look nice and then the top would be the chocolate ganache. That was my original plan at least...until things went horribly wrong.
Here are my supplies.
Add oil, eggs, and water to the cake mix.
Mix, and beat air into the cake for two minutes (see the bubbles?) I never use a mixer but you're supposed to for best results.
I greased and floured two cake pans so that the cakes came out nicely.
And then fill with batter, trying to get it fairly even between the two.
Bake at 350 until a tooth pick comes out cleanly.
Yum! Apparently I filled the one on the right too full. Whoops.
Now for the ganache.
Here's the recipe I used on my little post-it note. Pretty official, right?
I can't tell you how good these chocolate chips smelled. Ahh, it was amazing.
For the ganache, you need 2 bags of chocolate chips, a stick of butter, light corn syrup, and heavy whipping cream.
And you combine the cream, butter, and corn syrup on the stove.
And it turns this yellowish color...
And you heat it until it becomes frothy and is bubbling.
(Don't forget to check on the cakes!)
Once your ganache mixture has those nice little white bubbles, pour the entire thing into your chocolate chips.
And let it set for five minutes.
And then stir. 
And magically, this gorgeous looking chocolate ganache is what you get.
Now for the frosting. I used a basic buttercream recipe (milk, butter, vanilla, powdered sugar) And added a splash of mint extract.
Which also gives it this pretty mint green hue.
And after your ganache sets you add powdered sugar.
And mix.
So now you have both ganache and mint frosting. 
But that wasn't enough for me, so I decided to add these Andes mints into the mint frosting just to give it something extra.
I just poured and mixed until it looked about right.
I didn't want it to be too overpowering, but I didn't want to be skimpy.
And now for the cakes!
I just used a large knife to cut the cooled cakes in half.
And it worked pretty well.
I had decided to alternate layers of ganache and the mint frosting, but look at how much ganache this made!!
And it was really, really thick. (Hence destroying my cake here to come.)
The first layer went very smoothly. A put on a nice layer of ganache, and no problems.
Added some frosting,
And put the other layer on top.
Added some more ganache.
And then some more frosting.
Here's where things get messy. First, note the crumbs on top and the pile of cake in the top left. This is because I set the cake on top of this layer, and the whole layer split in half and then into fourths and just fell apart into pieces. ARG!
So I decided just to add a bit more frosting and ganache, make things a bit more level, and use the third half of a tier. So my cake was a bit shorter than it should have been and the layers definitely weren't even since I had wanted four thin layers, not two thin and one thick later. But oh well.
So then I decided to frost the entire cake with the ganache since I had so much of it. I put a big dollop on top and began smoothing it out.
The sides were really difficult, and the ganache was just too heavy.
It kept pulling down on the cake and making the layers bow out, making my cake sides slanted like a triangle.
But I kept scraping and trying to get them straight.
Over and over.
And eventually I got it looking halfway decent.
Still a bit sloped, but the best that I could do.
Honestly, it was just a mess to work with.
So now to decorate. I was really skeptical about these "cupcake tattoos," and for good reason.
They turned out to just be thin edible paper. I guess I'm not sure what I expected, but this just didn't look good on my cake. Maybe on a nice pretty white buttercream cake it would have been okay, but this was just a mess.
And STRIPES! Why did I pick stripes? Oh, because I thought it would look like I spent hours piping neat little lines. Really, it was just a crooked sagging mess.
The paper would stick to the cake in ever crevice and would tear really easily if you tried to move it.
And no matter how often I kept trying to straighten it...
And keep it nice and lined up...
The ends weren't even close to meeting or to being straight. Most likely just because my cake was so weird in the first place, but I was pretty frustrated.
How awful is that?
So now I thought maybe I could salvage it.
See that big "Happy Birthday" sticker? Well I thought I might as well try it.
The top looked better anyways.
So I put it on, but it just accentuated how crooked the lines were.
See? Yuck!
So then I tried to cover that up with the remaining stuff.
And I used clean scissors to cut around the circle.
But now the cake just looked messy and confusing and oh-so weird.
Look at that! Ohh, I was so disappointed. I wanted to throw the whole cake at this point.
So after some thought, I decided to definitely take off the stripes because they were by far the worst.
And it was a bit difficult but was well worth it.
And at this point, I decided to give up and leave it alone.
Even though I seriously hated this cake. But I wasn't sure really how to fix it, and just was done trying.
Definitely not my best cake, but overall it looks cool at first when you aren't sure how I decorated it.
Jenn liked it.
And the good news out of this all is that it tasted great! Especially with a little bit of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Yum!
Although the layers really bothered me. But what can you do!
Everyone loved the cake, and we ate an entire half in just one night! At least it wasn't a total disaster. Moral of the story? Cupcake tattoos are just weird and be careful using ganache so that the layers aren't so heavy that they destroy your poor cake. Oh, and don't make too much ganache or you'll be tempted to eat the entire bowl with a spoon--trust me.

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