I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday!  As the year draws to a close, I’m getting ready to recap my favorite posts from 2009, but first I just had to share this fun and festive cake.  I know it may seem like a Christmas cake, but it’s still winter and I’m sure it would be a welcome addition to any winter gathering or New Year’s party.  This fabulous concoction consists of three thick layers of rich, moist chocolate cake filled with peppermint frosting.  The whole thing is decorated with a white chocolate buttercream and then garnished with finely crushed peppermints for a sparkly pink finish.  It is certainly a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds!

And are you ready for this?  Me – Annie, the mint-hater – I actually liked this cake.  A lot.  Truthfully, I made it because I knew it would be so pretty and a hit at Christmas brunch, but I did not anticipate enjoying it so much myself.  The peppermint flavor in this cake is perfectly balanced by the other components so that it is definitely a key player, but not so overpowering that it is too strong for non-mint lovers.  Truly, the chocolate peppermint combo was wonderful and everyone was raving about it.

My only frustration with this cake was with the fact that it sliced horribly.  I think every piece I served looked as though Andrew had gotten a hold of it before I could pass it to each guest.  The reason was clear though – the peppermint dust on the outside of the cake hardened to form a sort of shell that was impossible to cut without partially destroying the delicate cake underneath.  Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this problem.  Garnish with the peppermint dust just before serving (as opposed to the night before as I did) so that it doesn’t have time to harden before you slice it.  And by the way, getting the peppermint evenly distributed around the outside was FUN!  I tried several techniques to get this to work but I found the best one to be simply taking a handful of the crushed candy and flinging it at the cake.  I felt a bit like Jackson Pollock :)  My counter was a mess, but I had fun and the cake looked great.   It’s a lovely winter treat!