I cannot believe Christmas is in five days! Well more like four now that today is almost over, yikes! Seriously, where has the time gone?! Since Thanksgiving, I repeatedly said I was going to bake this-and-that and never did. But for a good reason. I moved! To Battery Park City that is.WARNING: This post is longer than usual. As a blog, not only do I enjoy sharing my favorite recipes, I also enjoy writing my life adventures. This post is Part I (of who knows how many) that talks about my move to the city. As always, recipes are posted at the end :)
If you haven’t been here, it’s gorgeous. Facing north and 1 block to the left, you have the promenade alongside the Hudson river, Battery Park is walking distance to the south and a beautiful view of the Freedom Tower to the north which just happens to be my view from my living/dining room windows. Wes and I are very lucky to have found this apartment and I couldn’t be happier.
Since November, we searched all over lower Manhattan to find the perfect place with 3 must-haves: a residential gym, a conventional oven (not one of those tiny convection ovens that seems to be the “thing” now for college students – I’m old school) and a lots of sunlight. If you’re a photographer of any kind, then you understand.
The brightness in the above photo is one I would have never been able to have achieved before.
From where I previously lived, I had the worst lighting. And when I say ‘the worst’, I mean it was TERRIBLE! The living room had a tiny window that barely had any natural light coming in and the west-facing bedroom window was blocked by the backyard trees. To take a decent photo became a daily struggle as if baking alone wasn’t difficult.
I kid you not, there were times when food coloring was a requirement such as the Tiffany cake, and I would wait till the next day to stand outside the house with the bowl in my hands to ensure I had the perfect shade. Or when I would wait a few days due to an overcast. By the time I thought I finally caught a break from darkness, usually the baked goods didn’t look as fresh, hence not pretty enough for photos. Had to start over. But despite this “terror of the past” I’d like to call it, so far-so good (*knock on wood).
However, moving into the city isn’t all glitz and glamour. Even though I did manage to get the 3 key features I asked for, I also had to make some sacrifices along the way. For now, I’ll leave it at that, until next time. I want to get on talking about how delicious this cute 6-inch, 5-layered peppermint mocha cake is! (Psst, I don’t even like peppermint, but I loved this one!)
I’m a tad bit or shall I say a lot behind in the holiday state of mind and as a result, it carried over into my baking adventures. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive. :) Peppermint mocha however, has been in the back of my mind for some time and with a box full of candy canes and a barely touched canister of espresso, I had to put the two together.
To clarify, I did not use real peppermint candy for the cake except as a garnish. Using a peppermint extract or emulsion is the best way to go. It gives a more uniform flavor minus the sticky and chunky pieces of chopped candy. Plus I wanted to find a reason to use my cute cake plate and peppermint-stripped ribbon that I’ve been holding on to for the past year on top of my vanity (which drove my boyfriend insane!). He thinks I’m a hoarder.
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
- 2 1/2 teaspoons espresso coffee granules
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint emulsion or extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 9 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
- 2 1/2 teaspoons espresso coffee granules
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons fat-free milk or whole milk
- 6-8 small peppermint candy canes/candies, crushed (optional for garnish)
- Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour bottom and sides of five 6-inch round pans. Note: If five pans are unavailable, fill cake pan(s) and place batter covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In large bowl, beat all cake ingredients using an electric mixer on low-medium speed for 3 minutes until well blended; scraping sides of bowl.
- Pour evenly into pans and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan; remove cake onto wire rack for additional cooling.
- Meanwhile, in large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed , beat butter, cocoa and espresso until just combined. Gradually add in sugar, vanilla and 3 tablespoons of milk and continue to mix until well blended. Note: Add an additional tablespoon of milk for a thinner consistency.
- From each cooled cake, cut any dome-shaped tops to level the cake. If cakes are too thick, cut lengthwise to form 1-inch in thickness. Place one of the five cakes on a cake plate.
- Using an angled spatula frost the top of the bottom cake layer. Stack another cake layer about the first and frost the top again. Note: If frosting spills over the sides of the layers, this is okay since it will be used to frost the sides.
- Once the five cake layers have been stacked and frosted, frost the sides. Use a clean bench scraper to remove any excess frosting and to even the sides.
- Garnish the rims of the bottom and top of cake with crushed peppermint candies. ENJOY!
Peppermint Mocha Torte recipe was slightly adapted from Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Cake (p.14) of The Big Book of Cakes.