Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chocolate mint cake with nutty icing

One thing I realized about my cooking habit is I tend to bake cakes, especially those with icing, in late fall or winter. I seem to crave something sweet, creamy, and rich when the air gets crisp and chill, but doesn`t it happen to everyone? The cake I`m showing you here is actually for my husband`s belated birthday celebration, which we were supposed to have 3 months ago because his birthday was in August. This was our second time celebrating birthdays together and his last year`s birthday cake didn`t come out on time either. My New Year`s resolution should be: make a birthday cake on the birthday.
Anyway, one or two months ago, I stumbled upon a blog of an Irish ice cream maker/company and found their gluten-, dairy-, and butter- free brownies recipe. Unlike other recipes I`ve known and tried, the recipe calls for almond flour, olive oil, and egg whites. As an ice cream maker, they seem to have many egg whites leftovers and this brownies recipe is one of the alternatives to use them. I feel really bad for not keeping the link for the original recipe. I`ve been trying to find the blog again, but still no luck so far. So, if you happen to know this Irish ice cream maker`s blog, please let me know so I can share the link here.
Back to the recipe, I`m more than happy to use the olive oil because honestly, for me it is far easier working with the oil than butter in addition to the health reason. However, as I wasn`t into keeping the leftover yolks, I used whole eggs instead of the whites only. There was one thing in the recipe that brought out my curiosity the most, which was the use of almond flour. During my first trial, I kept worrying if the cake would even turn into a cake, but the result was just fantastic! It surprised me already that the cake rose just like the regular cakes, but I was even more surprised with the texture because it was definitely the moistest yet lightest brownies I`ve ever had. It almost reminded me of sponge cake due to the lightness, which is why I`m calling it chocolate cake, but  its deep chocolatey  flavor brought my mind back to brownies.
This time, however, despite my intention to recreate that joy, I ran out both my almond flour and whole almond stock, so I had to use the regular flour. The cake turned out denser than the almond version, but overall it was still good. So, if you are not allergic to almond and happen to have the almond flour in your pantry, look away from your regular flour and use the almond flour. Also, if you have leftover egg whites or if you`re curious (I am still curious), you can try the original recipe where egg whites are used instead of whole eggs.
Alright, kitchen now?

Mix sugar and cocoa with a whisk in a mixing bowl and crush any lumps in the mixture. Having sugar lumps in the cake are fine maybe, but cocoa lumps? Na-ah.

This is not from the original recipe, but chocolate and mint combo is my weakness, so I added dried mint leaves. Your weakness too? If so, get 1 tbs of dried mint leaves- more, if you want the cake to be super minty- and chop up.

Whisk in the chopped mint leaves.
Ideally, I wanted the mint leaves to be much finer, but this was what I could do the best. I`m never ambitious in my kitchen.
 Beat in whole eggs and the dry mixture will turn into a gooey mass.

Pour in olive oil and stir well.

Fold in almond flour (very recommended) or sifted flour.

Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and bake in preheated oven at 170 C for 40 min.

Here is the cake after 35 min baking. The top was firm with a crack in the middle, although it didn`t crack when I used almond flour.
Cool it in the pan for 30 min or more depending on your room`s temperature and then unmould it onto a cooling rack.

Confession: I cooled the cake on a plate instead of a rack.
Remove any uneven surfaces, half the cake into 2 discs, and invert the cake to set the flattest surface-the bottom side should be the flattest one-facing up on top.

Now, for the icing, chop up mixed nuts and reserve some whole nuts for decoration. Set the nuts aside.
By the way, I only have salted nuts, so that`s what I used. But have you tried try sweet-salty icing on your cake?
Whisk up 150 ml of heavy cream and add 2 tsp of sugar.

When the cream has stiffened enough, fold in 2/3 of the chopped nuts. 
The icing is ready!

Get you cake plate and cover the rim with aluminium foil. This will keep your plate clean when you do the icing.

Place the first disc on the plate and spread the cream generously.

Set the other disc on top to make the second layer and ice the top.

Spread the remaining cream to ice the whole cake.
I know, even a 10-year old kid can do better at this than me.

Sprinkle over the remaining chopped nuts and whole nuts.

And carefully remove the aluminium foil. Ta-da! Super clean icing-free rim!

Add more whole nuts on the side and the cake is done!

Happy birthday, honey! Here`s for more and more sweetness and cakes in the coming years!

This cake might not be the best looking cake in my life-and let`s be honest, it`s not-, but we finished half of the cake the day I made it. That`s how much we loved it. The crunchy nuts gave a really nice contrast to the icing and the minty-chocolatey cake. And can I say it again? It`s chocolatey, it`s minty, and it`s heavenly.
Want a slice?
For the cake (cake pan size: 15 cm in diameter and 5 cm in height)
125 g sugar
40 g cocoa
1 tbs chopped dried mint leaves
3 whole eggs
30 g flour (substitute for 30 g almond flour for lighter consistency)
30 ml olive oil
Vanila oil

For the icing
150 ml heavy cream
1 tsp sugar (add more if using sugarless instant coffee)
100-150 g chopped/minced mixed nuts
Whole nuts for decoration

1. Mix sugar and cocoa in a mixing bowl.
2. Beat in whole eggs.
3. Beat in olive oil and vanila oil.
4. Fold in flour or almond flour.
5. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and bake in preheated oven at 170 C for 35 min
6. After the cake is ready, cool it in the pan for 30 min and unmould onto a rack.
7. Half the cake into two discs and remove uneven surface with knife if necessary.

To ice
1. Whisk heavy cream and sugar at low speed and gradually increase the speed when the cream has started to get thicker.
2. Keep whisking until the cream has stiffened.
3. Fold in 2/3 of the chopped nuts and stir to combine.
4. Cover the rim of a plate with aluminium foil leaving the plate completely covered when the cake is placed on it.
5. Place one disc of the cake on the plate and spread the icing generously on its surface.
6. Stack the iced layer with the other disc and repeat the icing process.
7. Ice the side of the cake with the remaining cream.
8. Sprinkle over remaining chopped nuts and whole nuts on top and decorate the side with the whole nuts.


  1. Congratulations for this perfect layered birthday cake!
    I totally agree about powdered almonds: I have been making for years French soft almond cakes called Financiers, which have just one tablespoon flour and the rest is powdered almonds and egg whites (and butter!). They are soft and luscious, so I can imagine how good your cake must be!
    Adding dried mint is very unusual. I must test it one day (I also love mint and chocolate combination). Now I am craving a rich chocolate cake!

  2. Arudhi - This is such a delightful cake for your husband's birthday! He must be smiling all the way in his heart while eating it. I really like the nutty toppings of the cake. They are like the additional treat to the cake. I can't agree more that olive oil is much a healthier ingredient for baking than butter. If it weren't too pricey here, I'd have used it more in our baking.

  3. Arudhi, I enjoyed looking at your beautiuful cake and the step by step introductions but I don't know if I can do it!! SUPER intimidated by the whole process. I guess practicing many times will help? Despite my horrible baking skills, reading your instructions were actually unexpectedly fun. Most of the baking recipe doesn't include pictures and I have no idea how the cake is supposed to look each step. So it was fun reading! I like the covering plate with foil idea. Well hopefully I can bake a cake like this...but probably not another decade!! lol.

  4. Sissi: Thank you! I`ve never heard of Financiers before, but now you`ve told me about that, I`m guessing that the flourless brownie was probably a modified Financiers. You should try adding the mint. I forgot to tell this in the post, but the chopped mint leaves was completely unnoticeable when the cake was done. It probably has something to do with the amount I`ve used, but the cake was minty yet leafless and I take it as a good thing :)

    Reese: Thanks, Reese! My husband always smiles when I made him something involving lots of chocolate and sugar :D The olive oil called for in this recipe is less than half a cup, so it shouldn`t cost you that much. But this I`m talking about making cake for 2 or 3. Serving 10 persons or more will probably make me reconsider about using the olive oil :p

    Nami: LOL! I`m definitely not the right person to tell you this, but an excellent cook like you should never, ever feel intimidated by anyone or any baked goodies, Nami! And take this from me whose success in baking were less than 5 times a year despite the numerous trials :D This cake is really simple and quick to whip up, so I`m sure yo can make it within hours, not a decade :D It won`t take you more than 20 mins (or probably much less!) to prepare the cake batter, assuming that all the ingredients are prepared. I don`t even use an electric mixer for this. The less-easy part is probably the cake assembling and icing, although it only requires whipped cream and nuts, and endurance, lol! Happy baking!

  5. Planning on making this cake with a 7-minute frosting for a gluten free and dairy free friend, thanks!

  6. Hi there, I`m glad that you find the recipe useful. Hope you and your friend enjoy the chocolatey treat!