Traditions around the holidays are very important, because they create memories for years to come. Growing up we had quite a few - we cut down our tree, my older sister and I would spend the night at my grandma's before the holidays and make Polish cookies dusted with powdered sugar, with the sound of Nat King Cole in the background and we would swap names for our secret Santa. Since I have gotten older and my family is a bit scattered, I have loved establishing new rituals like cutting down our tree in Connecticut with my in-laws and then enjoying a hot bowl of soup once we got home.
A celebration of the winter solstice calls for a cake - a dark chocolate peppermint cake to be exact! Every once in a while I get an itch to make a layer cake, and colder temperates have put me into nest mode. This cake is delicious but keep at room temperature for best results!
For additional peppermint and chocolate goodness, I recommend this pie!
CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH PEPPERMINT GANACHE FROSTING
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup high-quality unseated cocoa, like Valhrona
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup strong hot coffee or espresso
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan, set aside. Place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together. Pour coffee into a small bowl and add softened butter, stir to melt butter in coffee. In other bowl, beat buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract together with a mixer. Beat until combined. Alternate by adding the coffee mixture and the buttermilk into the flour. Mix until smooth. Divide into two pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a knife is inserted into the middle and comes out clean. Let cool on a rack in pan until cooled.
PEPPERMINT GANACHE FROSTING
14 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, like Valhrona
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions: Place chopped chocolate into a bowl. Pour cream into a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Pour cream over chocolate and let set at least three minutes before whisking. Stir in peppermint and salt. Let ganache cool completely at room temperature until resembles frosting, about one hour.
To Assemble Cake: Gently remove cake from tin. Place one layer onto a plate. Spread half of frosting onto the top of layer, add the remaining layer and using a spoon glide frosting over cake. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
Cake Recipe adapted from Food & Wine | Styling & Photography by Alison