Mint Chocolate Chip Checkered Cake

This is the cake of my mint chocolate chip dreams. 

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If you are a newcomer around here, mint chocolate chip is one of my favorite flavors and has been since I was a kid. It's always and absolutely mint chocolate chip ice cream, especially if it's the green kind. You might also not know that I'm very, very much a big fan of #teampie. Generally, cakes are for special occasions and I am very picky when it comes to cake texture, frosting, the combination of flavors... so basically everything. Cakes don't show their face around here too much and the last cake I baked was for my birthday in October.

So is this a special occasion? In a way, yes. I had intentions of making this cake to celebrate this blog's 3rd year of existence but then it turned into making a cake for the joy of making a cake and that felt more appropriate. 

I think this cake has changed the way I look about cakes. They are hard work but don't have to feel like a chore. With time and patience, they really can turn out amazing and be fun! If I had made as many pies as I made cakes, I probably would feel differently. I don't feel too comfortable making cakes but perhaps with my new set of checkered cake pans, cakes will show up here more often.

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Half of my kitchen is vintage cookware that comes from Popo so when I was presented these pans from my boss' wife who was looking to get rid of them, I was immediately drawn to them even though their main purpose was to bake cakes. Also, the graphic design on the packaging is amazing. Another major selling point is that it includes three very sturdy-looking cake pans. I currently have a variety of cake pans but I only have one or two of the same size which makes baking more than one layer a hassle. Receiving three of the same size was a major upgrade. It also includes a cake divider to achieve the pattern of a checkered cake (see below) and a recipe on the back.

After going back and forth about which flavored checkered cake I wanted to try first (lemon, strawberry, rhubarb etc.), I chose the one on the back of the box which uses one batter to create both a vanilla and a chocolate cake. Of course, what better to pair it with than a mint chocolate chip frosting. The original directions called for one to use the concentric circles to divide the batter before baking. I attempted this for one layer but deemed this method too hard to a) figure out how to evenly distribute the batter, b) smooth out the batter and c) remove the divider in a clean way. I decided it would be better used as a giant cookie cutter once the cake was baked. 

I know that the kit I received to achieve the checkered design of this cake is not easy to come by, so here are some tips to achieve a similar sort of design.

  1. To cut out the different layers, use a 6" and 3" cookie cutter or a sharp knife and a 6" and 3" round device (cake pan, cup, etc.).
  2. The cake shown here is three layer cake which is not possible unless you know how to evenly divide 3 into 2. :) But, you can easily divide the batter between two pans and swap out the layers that way. And if you want 4 layers, you can split those two layers in half.
  3. It is best to cut the concentric circles of cake when it is cold. This can be achieved my placing it in the fridge for 30 minutes or as it defrosts out of the freezer.

As for the frosting, there is a simple chocolate buttercream in the center/outside for the crumb coating and a lovely mint chocolate chip frosting that literally looks and tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream. I thought that mint chocolate chip frosting inside and out would have been too much (even for me) and am pleased that the chocolate buttercream balances it all out. 

If this is overwhelming and you're thinking, "omg, I just want the cake without the fuss!", simply bake a layer of vanilla and a layer of chocolate without the checkered pattern, frost it and call it a day. 

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I'm dreaming a Neapolitan checkered cake next. Who's in?


Mint Chocolate Chip Checkered Cake

Yields: one 2 layer 8" cake

Notes

The directions for this will call for making a two layer cake. As said above, a three layered chocolate cake is not possible unless you are able divide the layers before the batter is baked. Instead, you can distribute the batter amongst two cake pans for a two layer checkered cake. Bonus points for wanting to go for four layers by dividing those two layers in half. If you decide to turn this into four layers, I would recommend doubling both frostings to ensure that you don't run out. 

You can freeze the cake ahead. Simply bake it, let it cool and immediately wrap it in plastic wrap and store in a plastic bag until ready to use. The cake will keep like this for two months.

The frosting quantities noted below are for a modest layer of frosting. If you are a frosting lover, I recommend one-and-one-halfing or doubling the frosting for a little bit extra.
 

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1½ ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2½ cups sifted cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk

Chocolate Buttercream

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 drops blue food coloring
  • 2 drops yellow food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dark chocolate

For Decorating

  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped dark chocolate 

Steps

Cake

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 8" cake pans. Line with parchment and set aside. Melt the baking chocolate and let cool completely. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside. Mix and sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. 

In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy and sugar crystals are dissolved. Add vanilla and well-beaten egg yolks and beat until well blended. 

Add flour in three portions and milk in two portions alternating mixing until well blended before adding the next addition. Fold in the egg whites.

Divide the batter into two equal portions and add melted chocolate to one portion. 

Place chocolate batter in one pan and vanilla batter in another. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake bounces back to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then invert on a cooling rack. 

Chocolate Buttercream

In the bowl of a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream or milk, salt, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. If frosting is too thick or thin, add a bit more heavy cream/milk or powdered sugar. Cover tightly if not using right away.

Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting

In the bowl of a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter and milk. Beat about 1 minute. Add in the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer to low until the powdered sugar is almost incorporated. Add the peppermint extract and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add food coloring. Fold in the chopped chocolate. Cover tightly if not using right away.

Assembly

Place your 6" cookie cutter in the center of the chocolate cake round. Press firmly to cut cake. Repeat with the vanilla cake round. Remove the 6" rounds and place them in the opposite cake layer. Now, with your 3" cookie cutter, repeat the same process. You are basically creating a pattern that looks like the Target logo. Place one complete cake round set on a cake stand or plate. Fill the middle with desired thickness of chocolate buttercream. Top with the second cake round. Frost the sides of the cake with the rest of the chocolate buttercream, moving towards the top if you find you have extra frosting to spare. It is okay if you aren't able to cover the top as well. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove the cake from the fridge and cover with mint chocolate chip frosting, being careful not to combine the two. Once covered, top with extra chocolate chips if you desire. 

Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to one day before serving. This cake also freezes well. Simply cut slices, wrap and store for up to two months.