Chocolate Mint Chequerboard Cake

Chocolate Mint Chequerboard Cake

It’s mint, it’s chocolate, it’s massive, and it’s cake! What’s not to like? This one is an impressive center piece and will bring a touch of fun to any occasion. Four layers of chocolate and mint sponge, put together in concentric rings to make the stunning chequerboard effect. Smother it in some green icing, drip some chocolate glaze over the edge, pile high with chocolate mints, and you have yourself a winner. Despite it’s large size, it’s also surprisingly light. The chocolate cake is made using yoghurt, so it’s really moist sticky, and then the mint cake gives a beautiful refreshing flavour to partner the rich chocolate. So all in all you end up with a big slice of choco mint heaven, which slips down very nicely.

The decorating is also really fun as you can top it with pretty much any chocolate you wish. Whenever I’m about to make something like this I have a field day in the supermarket, wandering up and down the isles trying to work out what to pile on top of the cake. Generally speaking it’s a good idea to have a range of textures, tones and sizes in your toppings (my inner art student is coming out!), but apart from that go crazy. This is the kinda cake where you have a full excuse to go OTT, so make the most of it.

Being four layers tall, I can guarantee that this cake is HUGE. Therefore I’d recommend not doing what I did and make it on a casual weekday for household of three. Instead, either scale it down to just two layers (so halve the cake mixtures), or wait until an occasion, party or large gathering of people to show up – otherwise you’ll be shipping it out to anyone and everyone you can before it goes stale (I speak from experience). That said, when the time comes, take it. Go full out and make this extravagant cake, top it with whatever your heart desires and slap it (or probably gently place it, as it’s very heavy) in the middle of the table.

It does take a lot of time to make, so I’d recommend either putting aside a day to pull it all together, or make the cakes the day before you assemble it all, otherwise you’ll have a breakdown and I’ll be named responsible. You also need to know a little of what you’re doing for this one, so if you can’t crack an egg, maybe wait a day or two before attempting this. That said, you don’t have to be an expert. I make a lot of cakes, but I’m more of a cupcake gal, so a four layer monster like this was a little daunting. But follow the steps, use your common sense and you should be absolutely fine. On with the recipe!

Recipe

Serves 12

Time: 5 hours (plus chilling time)

Ingredients

For the Chocolate cake

  • 170g Unsalted butter
  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • 240g Plain flour
  • 280g Caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 284ml Greek yoghurt

For the Mint cake

  • 350g Butter
  • 350g Golden caster sugar
  • 350g Self-raising flour
  • 6 Large eggs
  • 1 tsp Peppermint extract
  • 2 Tubes green food colouring

For the Butter Icing

  • 850g Icing sugar
  • 400g Butter (if using dairy-free spread use another 100g of icing sugar as it’ll be less stiff)
  • 1 tsp Green food colouring

For the Chocolate drip icing

  • 150g Good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g Unsalted butter

To Decorate

  • Mint chocolate decorations (e.g After Eights, Aero balls, mint sticks, mint leaves, mint Oreos…)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease and line four 6 inch cake tins (or two if you only have two, but you’ll need to wash them out half way through to re-use them).
  2. First make the chocolate cake. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  3. In a bowl mix the flour, sugar, bicarb and cocoa together.
  4. In another bowl whisk together the egg and yoghurt. Add this mixture, the chocolate mixture and 100ml boiling water to the flour mixture. Whisk quickly until combine and then pour into two of the lined tins.
  5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean once inserted. Leave the cakes to cool for 15 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks and leaving to cool.
  6. Now make the mint cake. Put the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and peppermint into a bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until smooth and fully combined. Add the green food colouring and mix again until it’s all the same colour.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the other two lined tins. The exact weight will vary depending on the size of your eggs, but you want about 700g in each tin. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Check if it’s cooked through by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean it’s ready. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
  8. Whilst the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream icing. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Then slowly add the green food colouring, mixing between each addition, until you have your desired colour. I like quite a soft green, but you can make it any shade you like.
  9. Once the sponges are completely cooled you can begin to assemble the cake. Take a 4-inch and a 2-inch smooth, round cookie cutter. In all four cakes, cut a circle with the 4-inch cutter in the centre of the sponge. Then take the 2-inch cutter and cut another circle out of the middle of the 4-inch circle. Take the rings out of each other, so you end up with 4 sets of 3 consecutive rings. 
  10. Now is the fun bit. Take the medium size ring of the mint cakes and put them into the now empty large rings of the chocolate cakes. Then take the small chocolate rings and put them in the centre, so you have a cake which looks chocolate-mint-chocolate.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  11. Then take the leftover medium chocolate rings and put them into the empty rings of the large mint cakes. Take the small mint rings and put them into the centre of the medium chocolate rings, so you have two cakes which look mint-chocolate-mint.
  12. Now it’s time to make the chequerboard. Take one of the cakes which goes chocolate-mint-chocolate, and put into onto the board you’ll display the cake on. Spread some of the butter cream over the cake with a palette knife. Then take one of the mint-chocolate-mint cakes and place it on top. Spread this layer with buttercream as well. Repeat this again so the next layer is chocolate-mint-chocolate, and then the final layer is mint-chocolate-mint, with buttercream sandwiching each layer. From the side the cake should have layers of chocolate, mint, chocolate, mint.
  13. Take a palette knife and blob half the butter icing onto the top of the cake. Smooth the icing out and push it round the sides. Use the palette knife to smooth out the icing in a not-too-thick, smooth layer. Leave the icing to set in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
  14. Take the cake out of the fridge and do another layer of butter icing over the first, making sure it’s really smooth, as at the end as this layer will be on show. Dipping the palette knife in warm water before smoothing can be a good way to get really smooth icing. Leave in the fridge to set until needed.
  15. Now make the chocolate ‘drip’ icing. Put the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl (glass or metal) and put over a pan of gently simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, take off the heat and throw in chunks of the butter, a little at a time – stirring to melt and mix.
  16. Using a thermometer, record the temperature whilst adding the butter chunks. Once the butter is melted and the mixture reaches 30˚C you can use the glaze.
  17. To prevent the glaze from melting the icing put it into a jug and then into the fridge for 3 minutes. Any more than this and the glaze will set so be careful. If this does happen, put it into the microwave for 10 seconds to loosen it up.
  18. When ready, spoon the glaze into the centre of the cake. Using the back of a large spoon, spread out the glaze so that it just drips over the edge. You want the drips to be slightly uneven and not to drip all down the cake, so carefully push the drips over in different amounts.
  19. Leave the glaze to set for 5-10 minutes. Then take the mint chocolates and decorate the top of the cake. I went for KitKats, Malteasers, Mint Aero balls, Mint Aeros, chocolate buttons, mint matchsticks, Mint Oreos, and mint leaves. Now you can serve!

Alternative:

Not a big fan of mint? Not a big fan of chocolate? Apart from needing a sanity check, this isn’t a problem. Why not try making a coffee and walnut chequerboard? Or cherry and almond? Simply make both cakes using the mint cake recipe, but instead of adding the green food colouring and mint extract, add chopped nuts, coffee, glace cherries or ground almonds and almond extract.

To get the defined chequerboard it’s a good idea to go for two contrasting colours in your sponges. So in the coffee and walnut one, for example, make sure that the coffee sponge is dark brown from rich coffee, and then leave the walnut sponge pale, by folding chopped walnuts into the cake batter. Then cover in plain or coffee buttercream and decorate however you want (e.g nuts and Fereero Rocher?).

Thanks so much for reading! Any comments, questions or requests don’t hesitate to ask. Next post coming soon…

Emma x

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