Friday, December 10, 2010

The Stenciled Peppermint Birthday Cake

 I am in a peppermint mood!  It's most likely because every catalog I've gotten for the past month has been chock full of peppermint bark, peppermint marshmallows, peppermint brownie mix, floating candles, ornaments, cocoa, and well, you get the point.  

So, I'm in a peppermint mood and my coworker Karen's birthday just happens to be this week.  To be honest, I don't even know if she likes peppermint, but that's what she's getting!  

There are four of us who traipse through the laptop and book cart strewn office in the back of the library, and we certainly don't need a whole 8" or 9" cake on our own.  Normally, we just bring stuff down to the staff when we're done, but I'm sick of sharing (nobody else does, it's uninspiring).  So, this time I decided to make a 6" cake.  It's very cute.  Of course, I only have one 6" pan, so it took twice as long to bake, but I also got eight cupcakes out of it and I have a party to go to on Saturday night, so it all worked out.

I used a Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge cake mix (I like cakes mixes!), and subbed half the water it called for for peppermint schnapps.  I also used the stick blender to mix it rather than getting the stand mixer out.  It turns out both of those were good calls.  The cake puffed way up and came out moist and fluffy and it was all way easier to clean up and put away. 

 I planned on icing the cake with peppermint chocolate ganache and thought I would fill it with whipped cream, then I thought I might as well mix in some crushed up candy canes to the whipped cream.  I had crushed up the candy canes the day before for decoration.  I'll need them for fudge soon anyway, so now I'm ready.

 After a painstaking reminiscence of my childhood with a sieve at the beach, I managed to separate out the larger pieces of crushed candy canes from the very fine powdery remains.  (This will all make sense in a minute)
 I used the ganache recipe I have seen as standard (1/2 cup heavy cream, just simmering, to 6 oz of chocolate, pour hot cream over chocolate and let stand for three minutes, then whisk until smooth).  I added some peppermint schnapps and creme de menthe to it while whisking.

 OK, so the mystery of the candy cane powder will now be solved.  A few weeks ago, my friend Anne asked me if I wanted a set of cake stencils that someone sent her and she didn't need (she already had two sets).  I said sure and have been waiting for a chance to used them.  I decided this was my chance.  I used the little flowers one and I think it came out alright.  It's a little fuzzy around the edges, but the stencil was meant for a bigger cake and I chickened out rather than pressing it down. The stencil was surprisingly easy to use, though I never would have thought to spray it with non-stick spray without reading the directions.  Finally, something to be said for directions!

 I think it looks kind of like flowers that have been lightly snowed on.


  1. I have used the stencils and never sprayed them with nonstick spray. So they always stick. If only I'd read the directions. Also, next time call me. I have three 6" cake pans.

  2. Wow, that is delectable. Top-notch work with the powdery mint.

  3. We just cut the cake and I have to say, I don't think I've ever voluntarily had two pieces of cake in my entire life. This one, I went back for more...