Sunday, April 13, 2008

Celebratory chocolate mint cake

Where I work, food is a huge part of our culture. We use it to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, promotions, and even just sending a special issue to print. The art department has a broad definition of what constitutes a holiday, and there are a lot of people who work in the department, so they almost always have food. Laura (their former copywriter) once made Winterfresh Fudge Bars. These brownies with mint filling were fantastic, so I decided to make a batch to celebrate my five-year anniversary at BeadStyle.

By the way, I think “bars” is an inadequate name for these chocolate-mint squares. I think of it, in its totality, as a cake. A dense, flat cake.

This recipe is a bit labor-intensive, mostly because you're making two batters and it’s challenging to spread the top layer of chocolate without over-marbling it. Also, I have to move in a circle as I mix each batter, because the bowl is at Ginger’s face level and she will put her head in if I don’t block her out. She seems particularly drawn to dairy products like whipped cream and minty cream-cheese filling, though she has also consumed merlot, lemon bars, and banana cake with chocolate frosting — none of this with my approval, by the way.

Anyway, the difficult thing about a cake: unlike with cookies, you can’t test it first to make sure it’s good. I’ve found a solution (albeit, not an ideal one). I just gouge a chunk out from the middle with a fork. Once the cake is frosted, no one will be the wiser.

As always, some notes:
1. I reduced the sugar in the brownie part to 1½ cups.
2. I reduced the sugar in the mint filling to just below 1/3 cup.
3. I reduced the sugar in the frosting to 1 cup and skipped the mint extract. You may want to increase the recipe slightly; I had barely enough frosting.

Taste-wise, I don’t miss the sugar, but I don't know how that affects the final result. Also, I reduced the temperature to about 340 degrees. Not sure if that's because of my oven or the glass baking dish I used.

By the way, Laura uses Andes chocolate mint candies instead of candy canes. It takes too long to crush them, though, so I just slice them and prop them up in the frosting.

And my friend Katy says that the cake freezes well. I wouldn’t know: what to do with leftover cake is never a question for me.

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