Today feels like a bit of a slam-dunk topic, but hey - I just work here. If the topic says "chocolate - recipes, faves and more," then that is what I shall deliver.
This is Triple-Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Peppermint Filling, which I discovered in an actual Bon Appetit magazine ten years ago now. I say "actual" as opposed to the virtual version I just looked up online here.
Ever since, I've made this most every year for some Christmas event or another. My recipe is written out on a tattered and stained index card, but you can print a pretty version from the Bon Appetit site. Or here's my tweaked version below.
As with most cooking, the quality of the ingredients you choose is what makes the difference between fab and eh.
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (milk chocolate is, by my definition already sullied, so I think you can get away with a Ghirardelli-level chocolate here)
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (it's worth it to get the good kind)
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (be sure to get actual extract, not flavoring. ALL the difference in the world)
- 1 cup sifted all purpose flour (I never sift flour any more. "They" say we don't really have to. I don't know why all the recipes still say it.)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I think it's worth it to get a good kind here, too. The Mexican unsweeteend cocoas are particular strong and wonderful)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (I use the pure kind, without aluminum)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (Don't you dare use margarine. I use organic and no, you can't substitute salted butter. If you do, don't add the 1/2 teaspoon salt, but the balance will still be a little off.)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (again - it's SO worth it to use real vanilla extract, not flavoring)
- 3 large eggs (warm to room temperature)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (also bring to room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips (If you can't find the mini cc's, which I can't a lot of the time, you just buy a candy bar and chop it up. It's worth it to get a good imported chocolate here.)
- 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I can't always find bittersweet either, so I've used dark chocolate candy bars with very high cocoa content - look for 80% or more and I think you'll be very pleased with the flavor.)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- Red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, chopped
- Fresh mint leaves
- Place chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan. Pour hot mixture over chocolate; add extract and let stand 1 minute. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Let filling stand at room temperature while cake is baking and cooling.
- Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. (I have one of those cake pans with the rounded bottom and I like to use that because it makes a pretty dome-shaped cake.) Line bottom with parchment paper. Butter parchment. Dust pan with flour. Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. (This is really important - fluffier is better.) Gradually beat in both sugars, then vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions each. Mix in chocolate chips.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 5 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack. Peel off parchment. Cool completely. (And they do mean COMPLETELY.)
- Using electric mixer, beat filling until fluffy and lightened in color, about 30 seconds. (You'll be amazed how it transforms.) Using serrated knife, cut cake horizontally in half. (This is why it has to be completely cool - or it can fall apart here.) Place 1 layer, cut side up, on rack set over baking sheet. Spread filling over. Top with second layer, cut side down. Chill filled cake 20 minutes. (Or overnight. Really you just want it to set up nicely.)
- Stir chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in heavy small saucepan over low heat (I use a double boiler - safer) until melted and smooth. Mix in extract. Cool glaze until just lukewarm but still pourable, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (You have a wider window here than they make it sound, so don't obsess.)
- Pour 1/2 cup glaze over center of cake. Spread over top and sides of cake. Chill until glaze sets, about 15 minutes. Pour remaining glaze over center of cake, then spread quickly over top and sides. Chill until glaze sets, about 1 hour. Sprinkle candies around top edge of cake. Cover with cake dome; chill. Before eating, let stand at room temperature until softened, about 4 hours.