Friday, September 24, 2010

Mint Chocolate Done!

As previously explained, my sweetheart of a boss asked me to make a cake for a friend's birthday today. No problem! I'd love to! My first cake for people! I found a good recipe and baked a chocolate sheet cake.

The next step is, naturally, icing. I have a recipe for mint chocolate chip buttercream icing that I was itching to try, and this was the perfect opportunity. Loaded up with peppermint extract and pounds of powdered sugar, I mixed up my first batch. Not quite enough. So I mixed up a second batch. I chopped up lots of chocolate.

I mixed the chocolate in with the minty icing and I was feeling really good about the process. The kitchen, by this time, smelled amazing. The leftover chocolate cake vapors and the new peppermint smells were very pleasant.

What comes next? Color! What color is mint supposed to be? Mint green! Just for a refresher, this is mint green. The color of leaves, of baby booties, and most importantly, of mint chocolate chip ice cream. If you aren't familiar with the usual way to color icing, let me explain. If you are familiar, pardon the review. Color concentrates are bought in little jars, which you transfer into the icing via a toothpick or two. Unless you want an extremely dark or strong color, you don't need much coloring. With this in mind, I put two toothpicks of color into my icing and blended. The icing did not change colors at all. Okay. More color. Still no change. What is stronger and darker? Food coloring! Two drops of green food coloring. (My mom was home by this point.) "Does it look any different to you?" "Mmm... no. Not really." Five drops and stir. Six drops and stir.

Then the mixer died. This is the second mixer I've killed while making icing.

The icing became something like the color of an alligator. Certainly not mint, certainly not even a nice leaf green, which was what I would expect from too much color. Nope. The color of a reptile, with a certain hint of brown under the green. Stirring by hand at this point, I added some yellow. No change. A little more yellow. Slight improvement. More yellow. My arm was exhausted.

                                                        (see how hard I was stirring?)

Somewhere around this time, I began to concede that perhaps, I was losing the battle. Also around this time, the icing was decidedly olive green. Like, the color of a dinosaur. Like, this color. Absolutely not mint.

You can't tell the color as strongly in this picture, but trust me. It's sitting in the fridge at this moment, very much this color.  Now what?

Start all over. To Wal-Mart! (I live in the middle of nowhere, so going to Wal-Mart, or even the grocery store, feels like a hassle.) My mom, who was brilliant this whole time, and kept me laughing instead of getting frustrated, proposed a Wal-Mart and supper trip. Off we went and bought more peppermint extract and a brand-new mixer. We ate a delicious dinner at our favorite restaurant, indulged in a couple ice cream cones, hit up the grocery story on our way home for butter, and then walked in the door, ready to start over. It was about 9:15 at this point. Except guess what we forgot to buy much more of? Guess what is the main ingredient in buttercream icing? Powdered sugar. I needed three pounds and we had about two cups. Grumble, grumble. After debating whether or not to go back to town, I decided it would be better to just wait and go in the morning. We were both exhaused; I could feel my body and brain shutting down, and I'm sure trying further would have only been digging the grave deeper.

This morning, I got up, went to the store, made lots of icing, and iced my cake! I decided to leave the green alone. Some extracts react strangly with color (for example, lemon icing won't dye a true red), and I wondered about the peppermint. I thought it better to not gamble with colors this morning. I decided on decorating with brown, so I made some chocolate buttercream, and got to work. I finished it just in time to drive it to my boss at 11:20 this morning, just before lunch. Whew!

                                the chocolate chips in the icing are what make it look so speckled

 I piped swirls all around the cake, and made a shell border on the bottom and rossettes on the top.

I was glad with how it turned out. I didn't think it was spectacular--I'm a total perfectionist--but I'm also glad it is finished. And my boss was very pleased, and that's what matters most.

I have an hour until I go to work, so now I'm curling up with some Harry Potter in preparation for November 19!

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha!!!
    I feel you with the cake mishaps...
    I tried to stencil brown sugar flowers onto a cake once, but I just destroyed it, so I ended up making the sugar into a glaze and flinging it on Jackson Pollock style so you couldn't tell.
    But you know what? Your cake turned out lovely, and you even got some good dinner and an ice cream cone for your trouble! I think that sounds like a success :)