Monday, February 4, 2013
I pinned a recipe for a football-themed grasshopper cake a long time ago, and Super Bowl Sunday was the perfect occasion! The cake itself was easy to make, but something went very wrong with the frosting, which was supposed to start with a meringue. I almost shorted out my hand mixer trying to achieve the meringue - twice. Though I followed directions exactly both times, nothing happened. In fact, none of my other meringue attempts have really solidified either. Maybe I need a new mixer? So, with my ears ringing and my arms aching, I whipped up some standard buttercream frosting in about five minutes. (Whatever, Martha.) In the end, the cake was a big hit at Caroline's Super Bowl party, so it was worth the trouble!
From Martha Stewart (cake) and adapted from Southern Food (frosting).
For the Cake
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for the pan
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup warm water
½ cup milk
¼ cup sour cream
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Frosting
1/3 cup butter, softened
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pound (3 ½ cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted if it's organic or lumpy
3 to 4 Tbsp milk or light cream
½ tsp peppermint extract, or 2 Tbsp creme de menthe (can adjust to taste)
Green food coloring, if using peppermint extract
For the Footballs
12 large Andes mints
Make the Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-by-12-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Butter the parchment, and dust with cocoa powder.
2. Whisk together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs, warm water, milk, sour cream, butter, and vanilla, blending until smooth (hand mixer recommended!).
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate or the cooling rack. You may want to pop it into the fridge for a while before frosting. (Cake will keep, unfrosted and covered, overnight.)
Make the Footballs
With a small, sharp knife, trim Andes mints into the general shape of footballs. Set aside the trimmings. Press three white sprinkles into each mint to form the "laces." Caution: don't press too hard, or the sprinkles will disintegrate. Alternatively, you can "glue" them on with frosting, but I wasn't in the mood for such delicate work.
Make the Frosting
1. Cream butter, salt, vanilla, and peppermint extract or creme de menthe (and food coloring, if using) with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar gradually, beating after each addition. (You might want to tarp off your kitchen before doing this!!)
2. Add the milk or light cream, beating until smooth. Beat in more milk until your desired spreading consistency is reached. Makes about 2 1/3 cups of frosting, enough to frost tops and sides of of an 8-inch 2-layer cake, a 10-inch bundt cake, or a dozen cupcakes. It was just enough for the top of this 8X12 rectangular cake.
If you haven't eaten all the Andes mint trimmings, you can sprinkle them over the top of the cake before (or after) frosting. It's a nice surprise in every bite!