Sweet & Easy: Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Peppermint & Minted Chocolate Buttercream

| February/March 2006

This layer buttermilk chocolate cake is fudgey and moist with a nice hint of peppermint. The mint chocolate buttercream is a light chocolate with refreshing mint flavor. I like peppermint here because it is stronger in flavor, but spearmint also can be used. My family likes this cake on the day after it has been made, when the mint has permeated the entire cake. I usually refrigerate it and take it out of the refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before serving so that it is at cool room temperature. It can be garnished with a circle of fresh or candied mint leaves arranged on the top. SERVES 10 TO 12

• 1 cup milk scalded with 1 cup packed peppermint leaves
• 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 1 3/4 cup sugar
• 4 extra-large eggs
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooked
• 1 cup nonfat buttermilk
• 1/2 cup fresh chopped peppermint leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch layer cake pans, line the bottoms with a circle of wax paper, and dust lightly with flour. Scald milk and mint, then set aside to cool.

2. In a bowl, sift flour with cocoa, baking soda, baking powder; salt and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whip butter with an electric mixer for a minute or so. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and chocolate and blend well, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Remove mint from scalded and cooled milk and add 1/2 cup milk to the buttermilk, reserving the other 1/2 cup for the buttercream. Alternately add flour mixture in three parts with milk mixture in two parts to chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add chopped mint and blend well.

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