Its very nearly Christmas! I had wanted to get this post out before now, but it has been a hell of a week and I simply ran out of time. Sorry!
Before I introduce my latest crazy Christmas treat, I just want to take a moment to thank all the lovely lovely people who voted for me in the Allergy Blog Awards. I was so thrilled to find that I had got through to the finals of the Most Innovative category....... and I could not have done it without YOU! So thank you, thank you, thank you!
This little blog is on the map and I feel so proud that I have achieved some recognition, despite my struggles to box and cox it around a full time job and busy family life. On those days when it feels like one thing too many, it is so good to know that the time I put into it is worthwhile to other people too.
If you are wanting to make something a little fun this Christmas and have plenty of mouths to feed (it is quite large!), this Layered Chocolate-Mint Christmas Tree Cake may be just the thing. It is really very straight forward to put together and the kids can have plenty of fun helping to 'decorate the tree'.
The sponge recipe is fast becoming a bit of a 'go too' in our house, especially when we want a cake that will hold a structure...... originally developed as a bundt cake, it is moist, keeps good shape, is still light, full of chocolateyness, and stays fresh for several days.
Layered with mint butter icing, this popular flavour combo is also perfect for ensuring compatibility with a green tree!
You can decorate your tree with whatever you have to hand, but I decided to go with a bit of a sparkly bauble and star theme and some traditional candy canes (I hunted high and low for the mini ones, and eventually found an enormous box for £1 in Poundland). We were going to make some marzipan presents to put round the base, but time has not been on our side....... oh well, there's always next year.
I am not particularly happy with the photos either..... they don't really do the cake justice. But as we are mid-extension, the scaffolding outside the kitchen window prevented almost any light getting to my usual 'studio' area and my next favourite light space has been subsumed by a whole new (as yet unfinished) room. That combined with very short days, too much winter darkness and later work hours resulted in hurried pics on a rainy weekend.
The piece de resistance is the crisp, sparkly dark chocolate star on the top of the tree (well every tree needs a sparkly star doesn't it?). I treated myself to a Lekue Decimate Kit which I had seen reviewed over at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. It made drizzling the chocolate into a star shape so easy!
I am sharing my Layered Chocolate-Mint Christmas Tree cake with the following linkies :
Love Cake with Jibber Jabber - I haven't managed to join in with this for a while, so am pleased to be part of it again! This month's theme is Winter Wonderland.
We Should Cocoa with Tin and Thyme.
#TheFoodCalendar with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Celebrating Christmas!
Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie.
Sunday Fitness & Food with Ilka's Blog and Marathons & Motivation.
Layered Chocolate-Mint Christmas Tree Cake
For the chocolate sponge :
Chocolate Sponge using recipe as in this post (for full mix - 5 egg quantity)
250g butter - softened
500g icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
peppermint extract - to taste
peppermint extract - to taste
green food colouring paste
Tree Decorations :
mini candy canes
GF mint chocolate sticks
GF chocolate-mint balls
GF chocolate mini stars
GF shimmer-coated chocolate truffles
edible food glue (available in Lakeland or on-line)
edible glitter - various colours
a little dark chocolate (for the star)
- If you are planning on using glitter-covered chocolates, I suggest you prepare these in advance, so that they have time to dry ready to place on your cake as soon as you ice and before the icing hardens.
- Place a little glitter of your chosen colours in a tiny dishes (I use soy sauce dishes). Use a clean paint brush (I keep one especially for food use) to smear a very thin layer of food glue on the areas of your chocolate balls, stars, etc that you want to glitterize. Dip the glued areas into the glitter to cover and then place to dry on a sheet of baking paper (on a plate/baking tray). Set aside.
- Prepare your chocolate star by melting a little dark chocolate in the microwave (I tempered mine, but if you are adding glitter, any 'blooming' will not show much), carefully drizzling into a star shape on baking paper and then adding a good sprinkle of glitter to the surface. Set aside to set.
- Base-line your round, deep, loose-bottomed cake tins - you will need the following : 1 x 8 inch/20 cm; 1 x 6 inch/15 cm; 1 x 4 inch/10 cm; a non-stick large muffin tin for the remaining mixture from which you can cut the final two layers.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3 and make your sponge batter as in this recipe.
- Distribute your batter between your tins to a depth of 4 to 5 cm (1½ to 2 inches), using any remaining batter in the muffin tin (you can make snowmen with any left-overs).
- Bake your cakes for between 20 and 40 minutes (dependent on depth and size), arranging them in the oven so that the smaller ones are at the front for easy removal without significantly disturbing the larger ones that need longer. They will be ready when a skewer comes out clean. These cakes do not massively sink if a little air gets in the oven, but try and avoid opening the door too often or for too long!
- As the cakes come out of the oven, remove from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the butter-icing : Place your softened butter in a large mixing bowl and gradually whisk in your icing sugar a little at a time until you have a smooth soft icing. Add a very little milk as the mixture thickens, to loosen slightly. (Tip : to avoid too much icing sugar dust ending up around the kitchen, I add about 50g at a time and first carefully stir into the wet butter mixture with a silicone or wooden spoon, before whisking. It takes extra time, but you don't end up in a cloud of white sweet dust and your kitchen doesn't end up looking as if the ceiling fell in!)
- Add peppermint extract and green food colouring a little at a time until you have your desired mint flavour and colour, whisking as you go.
- Layer your cakes : Start with the largest 8 inch/20 cm sponge (you can either place on your serving dish or on a clean chopping/cake board and transfer later with a flat, wide spatula/fish slice) - Carefully, but quite roughly spread a layer of icing on to the top and sides of the sponge, to cover completely, using an icing spreader or palette knife.
- Place the next largest sponge (6 inch/15 cm) on top of the first iced sponge and repeat the icing process to completely cover.
- Repeat again with the 4 inch/10 cm sponge.
- For the top two layers, take a couple of the chocolate muffin sponges and use cookie cutters (2 inch (5 cm) and 1 inch (2½ cm) to cut cake rounds. You may need to square off the the top of the larger muffin sponge to flatten for stacking.
- Repeat the icing and stacking process for these two layers (you will need to work extra carefully to avoid too many crumbs getting mixed into the icing layer or add a thin 'crumb' layer of icing to each small cake before you put them on the main cake, chilling to firm up and then adding a second icing layer when placed on the main cake.
- Decorate your cake with glittery sweets, truffles, candy canes and your chocolate star.
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