My new year’s resolution is to share the backlog of baking recipes that I’ve made and photographed, but never wrote the blog post. Two years ago I made a Mint Chocolate cake for my little brother’s birthday, and then it again to audition for one of those baking competition shows. I'll share my recipe for Mint Italian Meringue Buttercream and some tips on how I stack cakes.
If you ask my brother what his favorite cake combination is-- without thought he will answer “chocolate cake with white icing”. So, I was very surprised when he said he wanted mint that year. I’ve found that mint chocolate flavor combination divides people. Either they think it tastes like toothpaste or it’s their favorite flavor combo ever.
The base of this cake is my favorite Devil’s Food Cake recipe from the Bravetart Cookbook with a slight modification. The original recipe makes a 3 layer 8 inch cake-- which is a lot of cake. For this cake, I halved the recipe to make a three layer 6 inch round cake. This devil’s food cake is filled with a light and airy Mint Italian Meringue Buttercream and then the whole cake is covered in a dreamy dark chocolate ganache. Basically, I’m the best sister ever 😉
Let’s Talk about Making the Mint Italian Meringue Buttercream
- Mint Italian Meringue Buttercream is more complicated than your normal American buttercream. The most notable difference is that there is no powdered sugar. Did I just blow your mind? The ingredients for the Mint Italian Buttercream is pretty simple: buttercream is egg whites, cream of tartar, a simple syrup and butter.
- Temperature Matters. You will create a simple syrup in step 2 and essentially leave it idling on the stove while you whip the egg whites. Then when you are ready you will need to boil the syrup to 248ºF to 250ºF. The syrup needs to make it to the “firm ball stage”.
- The egg whites. First you will whip them to soft peaks. Soft peaks basically means that when you turn your whisk upside down the egg whites form a peak, but it doesn’t hold its shape perfectly. Then you will add granulated sugar and beat again until the egg whites are stiff peaks, which means that when you turn the whisk upside down the egg foam holds its shape.
Layer Cake Tips and Tricks:
- Always let the cake cool. The cake should cool in the pan for at least an hour before you turn the cakes out onto the wire rack.
- Crumb Coat. If you’ve never done a crumb coat, the goal here is to trap the crumbs under a thin layer of buttercream. By doing this you create a clean canvas for your decorations. There are plenty of resources on how to crumb coat. I will just say that you don’t need as much icing as you think. Once you’ve completely covered the cake and it’s smoothed to your particular level of perfection, put the cake in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This time chilling in the fridge will allow the crumb coat to set. This is the best time to make your fillings and frostings.
- Level the Cake. Do you want a lopsided cake? No. Then don't skip leveling the cakes. You can buy a cake leveler, I have the Wilton one, or you can use a bread knife to trim the tops of the cakes.
Tools and Equipment
These tools aren’t required, but they are my go-to items when stacking a cake:
- An offset spatula
- Cake leveler
- Cake Turntable
- Piping Bags fitted with large tips
- A tall cup to rest the filled piping bags in
- 1 8 inch round cake board
Mint Italian Meringue Buttercream
A light and airy mint buttercream perfect for frosting cakes or cupcakes. Or eating with a spoon (no judgment over here).
- Prep Time: 15
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 1/2 cups
- Category: Frosting
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
5 large egg whites
½ + ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon mint extract (or more to taste)
Green food coloring (optional)
Pinch of salt (to taste)
- In a medium mixing bowl mix the butter until creamy. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan heat ¾ cup sugar and ¼ cup of water. Stir the syrup constantly and heat until all of the sugar dissolves completely and is bubbling. Once the syrup is bubbling, stop stirring and reduce the heat to low.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they are foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form when you remove the beater slowly. Slowly, whisk in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form (the meringue holds its shape when raised on the whisk).
- Back to the stove. Increase the heat to boil the syrup again. Boil until a thermometer shows 248ºF to 250ºF. Immediately pour the syrup into a glass measuring cup (the glass will stop the cooking. Temperature is so critical for this frosting!).
- Back to the stand mixer, pour a small amount of the syrup into the bowl (but not on the whisk itself because it will cause a mess). Turn the mixer on at a high speed and mix for 5 seconds. Repeat this process until all of the syrup is incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to capture any leftover syrup in the glass measuring cup. Whisk on medium speed for 2 minutes, until cool.
- Beat in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. The mixture will look thin, but will develop after all of the butter is in. If the mixture looks a little curdled increase the speed on the mixer and beat until it smooths itself out. Keep going it will come together.
- Finally lower the speed and add in the mint extract and food coloring (optional).
Keywords: Mint Italian Buttercream