Luscious layers: chocolate mint torte

chocolate-mint-torte

On days when Susan Reid, Andréa, and I are all in the test kitchen, the conversations are peppered with movie and TV quotes. Both famous and infamous, such bon mots as ” Damnit Jim, I’m a doctor!” and “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” fly as fast as our whisks.

Lose a kitchen tool and you’re likely to ask…

“Honey, where is my super suit?  Where..   is..  my..   super suit?!” Of course, your teammates have to answer “Why do you need to know?”

Star Trek, A Christmas Story and The Incredibles are just a few of our favorites. We also love Futurama, The Princess Bride (Andréa affectionately calls the warehouse The Pit of Despair) and The Simpsons. Even PJ will throw out the occasional D’oh!

Yes sir, we do love us some silly movie quotes. In recent years we’ve decided some of the best have come from animated movies. Eddie Murphy’s performance in Shrek is rife with quotable moments.

I’m personally very fond of saying, “And in the morning, I’m making waffles.” And “Ain’t nobody don’t like parfait.”  Which brings me to today’s recipe, Chocolate Mint Torte. Don’t see the brain leap?

Ogres, onions, parfait, layers, torte, layers; get it? *sigh* Guess I’ll just have to stick with food writing and leave the quips to others.  Anyway, I’m a big fan of layered desserts, they just make me feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck and I can take as many or as few layers in each bite as I like.

This torte features three layers that blend in harmonious goodness. A light chocolate cake, a rich chocolate ganache, and airy mint “mousse.” At once rich and fluffy, sumptuous and refreshing, the cool mint enhances the chocolate and makes each bite a bounty of flavor.

Let’s make a Chocolate Mint Torte.

You’ll need to trim your parchment paper to fit a  10” x  15” jelly roll pan. You can use a half sheet pan; however, the layers of cake will be much thinner.

Spritz the pan with cooking spray, add the parchment and spritz again. It’s the belt and suspenders approach to easy releasing cakes.

Mmm, chocolate extract. Just as vanilla extract gives a lovely flavor to yellow cakes, chocolate extract makes your chocolate cakes that much more chocolate-y. It’s an ingredient I don’t use every day, but when I do I notice a pleasant difference in my chocolate baked goods.

Try putting this on your list when you have a few pennies left over from recycling your bottles, or as a treat for yourself for vacuuming the living room.

In a small bowl, mix:

¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract

You can see the chocolate extract on the left is darker than the vanilla amoeba shape on the right.

Oh woe, what to do if you don’t have chocolate extract? Use all vanilla. It will still taste amazing.

Put 4 large room-temperature eggs in the bowl of your stand mixer. It’s important that the eggs are on the warm side to create a nice foam. Cold eggs just don’t whip up as well.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until they begin to foam. Add in the sugar/salt/extract mixture.  Continue beating. You’re looking for a thick foam. As you can see, this foam is too thin and drips right off of a spoon.

Ah, that’s better. This foam is thick and makes a trail in the batter as it drips from the whisk.

Wipe out the bowl you used for sugar and put in:
2/3 cup King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

This cake is very light in texture, so it’s a good idea to sift the dry ingredients together.

Wow, look at all those lumps. Press them through the sieve with the back of a spoon or your fingers.

Much better; soft and lump-free.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the beaten eggs. Try to maintain as much of the foam as you can.

Whisk together the  1/4  cup oil and 6 tablespoons buttermilk and add to the batter. Again, fold gently to incorporate.

P0ur the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly to the edges and corners.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

When done, the cake will spring back in the center when touched lightly.

The edges of the cake will also begin to pull away from the side of the pan. Remove from the oven.

Place a piece of parchment paper over a cooling rack to protect the top of the cake and turn out the cake to cool.

Once the cake is cool, prepare the mint mousse filling. To your stand mixer bowl add:
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
4 tablespoon whipped cream stabilizer *
1/3 cup sugar
3 drops peppermint oil**
2-3 drops green food coloring

*Don’t have stabilizer? Use 4 teaspoons Instant ClearJel instead.

**1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract can be used instead.

While you can try this without any stabilizers in the cream, you won’t get the light airiness that makes the mousse filling so special.

Whip on high speed until thick. The mousse will stay light and airy but will hold its shape.

For the ganache, put 6 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl. Pour over 6 ounces of very hot cream.

Stir the ganache until very smooth. Place in the freezer until it’s the consistency of thick pudding.

Let’s assemble the torte. Trim the cake on all four sides. The strip on the left is the untrimmed, rough edge. The strip on the right is trimmed and makes for a much nicer presentation.

Divide the cake crosswise into four equal portions.

Spread 1/4th of the ganache over 3 sections of the cake. Reserve the fourth slab of cake for the top of the torte, and the last of the ganache for topping.

Fill a disposable pastry bag with mint mousse. Cut a fairly large hole in the end for piping.

Pipe four generous lines of mousse down each ganached layer. You’ll use about 1/3 of the mousse for each layer.

You can spread and pipe each layer before stacking, or spread with ganache and stack before piping.

A tall tower of tantalizing tastes!

Using the last slab of cake, place it atop the torte and press the whole torte down gently.

Wrap the entire torte in freezer or plastic wrap. Use your fingers to smooth ganache and mousse into all the nooks and crannies around the torte.

Freeze the torte for a minimum of 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, melt the reserved ganache and spread over the top of the torte, allowing some to drip decoratively down the sides.

You can gild the lily with a some pure chocolate sprinkles if you like.

My oh my, the layers of goodness seem to go on forever.

Tracy, our email coordinator and Halley’s right-hand gal, had been having a bad day. One slice of torte and she came straight to the kitchen with hugs and thank you’s. I smiled for a week knowing that something I baked could make someone so happy.

In the words of Eddie Murphy’s Donkey once again, “I’m a believer.”

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Chocolate Mint Torte.

Print
the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Maria

    Looks like a dessert made in heaven ~ which is why it was so comforting for Tracy!
    ~a wonderful week to you~
    Maria
    bracing ourselves for more snow Wednesday ~ it will be a great baking day :o)

    Reply
  2. Rebecca Grace

    Oh my… Is it better to be skinny, or to be happy? I’m sure the secret of lifelong bliss lies in cake indulgence, especially when it’s something as fabulous as this one. Can’t wait to try it out. Do you think it’s possible that the work involved in baking and assembling this cake might burn enough calories to offset the calories from eating eat? If I jog in place and do jumping jacks while it’s in the oven, maybe? ‘Cause that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

    By the way, tell Andréa that the Pit of Despair is not in your warehouse — it’s DEFINITELY in my kids’ toy room. I’m afraid to even go in there anymore.

    Reply
  3. maccourt

    Wow this sounds wonderful. I can taste it just reading about it! I notice that the blog calls for 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tsp of chocolate extract, but it’s ok to use all vanilla if you don’t have the chocolate. The RECIPE though only calls for 1 tsp of vanilla. I’m not sure if that means the chocolate extract is optional and if you don’t have it you should just use 1 tsp of vanilla, or if it’s a typo in the recipe and it should be 2 tsp of vanilla.

    Thanks!
    The chocolate extract is optional, so the 1 tsp. measurement for the vanilla is correct.

    Reply
  4. jswc

    I think this would be fun to make and impressive to serve! You might call me crazy, but although I’m a terminal chocoholic I’m not a huge fan of the mint-chocolate flavor combo… a coconut mousse would be pure heaven for me. Would adding coconut milk powder or shredded coconut ruin the texture, or should I just sub out coconut extract for the mint? Can’t wait to try this out on my card club! –
    Jeanne from NJ

    Changing the extract is the “safest” substitute. Adding additional ingredients will be much more of an experiment. Yes, that would change the texture. Try one change at a time and see how the recipe develops. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  5. Sandra

    Oh dear, another inch on my waistline!
    For those that don’t have such easy access to your products, adding 1 tbsp of cornflour per cup cream, at the soft whipped stage, is supposed to make cream stable. (I have yet to try it!).
    Thanks for the hint. Has anyone tried this? We’d love to know! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. rcross

    The recipe looks great, but that’s not why I wanted to comment. I completely understand the pick-me-up factor Tracy experienced. I grew up in a pretty busy family that always seemed to be on the go. But from time to time, my mom and I would bake together, so baking became another way to say “I love you.” The kitchen (and dining room, since we didn’t have much counter space) are the hosts to a lot of happy memories.
    I couldn’t agree with you more. I am also trying to build those memories in my kitchen with my children at home. Thank you for sharing with us. ~Amy @KAF

    Reply
  7. julie-lynn

    This will be my St. Patty’s day dessert. Now i just need shamrock sprinkles for the top! Are you guys ready for the additional snow tonight? Love the quotes…my dog’s name is Gozer- we obviously watch too many movies too!

    Reply
  8. mikest

    Yum! Okay, if I wanted to make the mousse strawberry, what would be the best way? I can do a concentrated strawberry liquid from frozen strawberries, but that would add liquid and I’d have to change something else. Or just go with a fake strawberry flavoring I guess… Thoughts??? Valentines day is coming up and this would be a real winner! :-)
    Hi there,
    I think strawberry is a fantastic idea. Try replacing 1/4 cup of the cream with the concentrated juice and a couple drops of pink coloring. The stabilizer should still be able to handle it, no problem. Also, taste the concentrate first in case you want to adjust sugar in the cream. Let us know how it comes out! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. alam

    This may be a basic question, but I’ve never understood if you are using parchment, why it is necessary to spray the pan with non stick as well as the parchment. Thanks for the tip! Al
    It’s a great question Al. When working with tender cakes and baked goods that you need to remove from the pan in one piece, every bit of help with sticking is a plus. Spraying before and after adding parchment is the “belt and suspenders” approach, ensuring that your cake will come right out of the pan and right off the parchment without a hitch.
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. fran16250

    Ah, to be skinnier or happy???? I’ll take Happy, maybe I’ll be skinny when I get to heaven. “Never trust a skinny chef” my mother used to say. I made KAF’s red velvet cake this weekend and it gave a substitution for buttermilk using water and buttermilk powder; I assume that would work here too? For some strange reason buttermilk seems to be hard to come by lately. The red velvet cake came out great btw. Does anyone know how it got its name, particularly the velvet part?
    I love the idea of using this recipe to celebrate St Patrick’s day next month.
    Could I use egg white powder to help stabilize the cream?
    How about some espresso powder in place of the chocolate extract? Do you think a tablespoon would be too much? Thanks for another great recipe!
    HI Fran, while I think the espresso powder would be fine (about a teaspoon), I don’t think the egg whites would work to stabilize the cream. You can definitely use the buttermilk powder, that would be fine.
    I used to think the same thing about skinny chefs, but then I met PJ and Sue Gray. They are both amazing cooks and bakers, and work hard to stay slim, so that motto went out the window! :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. jsgmitchell

    This looks outstanding! I love the fact I don’t have to separate the eggs and beat them separately.. I end up losing patience at that point. I don’t have clear gel or or whipped cream stabilizer but I do have arrowroot starch. Do you think this would work as well? How many days does this cake stay good without weeping?
    Thanks for the recipe!
    I’d say use confectioners’ sugar rather than the arrowroot starch. This will stiffen up the cream a bit. As for shelf life, it hasn’t really lasted longer than a couple of days. I store in the freezer and thaw for about 10 minutes before cutting slices.
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. sailortitan

    What about using confectioner’s sugar in place of the stabilizer? After all, most whipped cream recipes I’ve seen call for about 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar–exactly the same proportion as the stabilizer in this recipe.
    You could give it a try, I bet it would help, but not be quite as stiff as the stabilizer. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  13. fussybritches19

    I’m drooling! This is definitely going to be either a Valentine’s Day dessert (chocolate mint is hubby’s favorite sweet flavors) or perfect for St. Patty’s Day as someone already mentioned. Since I don’t have a jelly roll pan, I may have to try it in my half sheet. Would I need to shorten the baking time?

    As for the skinny or happy debate, why choose?! My two passions are running and baking. Thinking about eating all of the goodies I make always pushes me for just one more block..and another…
    Great name!! Yes, I’ve made this in a half sheet pan by accident, and it works just fine. I’d say the baking time was around 12-14 minutes.
    I have to say too that you have great willpower, bravo to you for running the extra mile. You’ve earned your treats!
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. hoydoris

    I have always used gelatin powder to stabilize the cream. (1/4 tsp/ea cup of cream) Just dissolved it in 2-4 tsp of hot water, let it cool a little and then beat it into the cream when the cream reaches soft peak. Contiune to beat the cream to the consistency that you want.

    Reply
  15. jeanh1259

    Great recipe. I’m making it with Raspberry cream for Valentine’s Day and your way with the mint for St Patrick’s Day. Can’t wait to try them both, thanks so much!!!

    Reply
  16. mcstiles

    Shrek is a favorite quotable in this baking household, too. :)
    Yeah, there’s nothing like belting out “Rock Star” in the car, or telling your spouse “That’ll do Donkey, that’ll do. ”
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. fran16250

    OMG!!! I just noticed that this cake has SEVEN layers! I think I may have found my inspiration for a long lost favorite, Seven Layer cake that I have not been able to find for years!! I used to be able to get in local bakeries which have mostly all been lost to gracery store bakeries. It was a yellow cake with a light chocolate buttercream and the ganache on top. I will be working on re-creating this. I can’t wait to give it a try!
    Awesome! Let us know how it goes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. joycethebaker

    This sounds like a fantastic recipe for St. Patrick’s Day which also happens to be my birthday!

    My question is, if the torte sits in the freezer anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days, how long does it need to sit out before it can be eaten? There was a comment that it takes 10 minutes before it can be cut, but is it ready to eat then?

    Also, how will the mousse react to the freezing? I make a Mudd Pie with a real whip cream garnish. It is great when it is first put on, but after it sits in the freezer a day or two it gets real grainy and not at all tasty. I know the answer is to eat this right away, but since there are just two of us in the house, it takes us several days to finish a dessert like this.

    It’s so hard to wait for a sample when you know this is in the freezer! Wait 10 minutes before cutting so the frozen cake is easier to slice and eat as soon as it’s sliced! This recipe was tried and tested in our test kitchen and works well as written. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  19. jswc

    I can usually find whipped cream stabilizer in my supermarket under the Dr. Oetker brand, packaged in individual packets, called Whip It. Each packet contains about a tablespoon and stabilizes a cup of cream. The main ingredients are dextrose and cornstarch, in case that helps anybody who is interested in improvising.
    Jeanne from NJ
    Thanks Jeanne! I’ve never seen this before, thanks so much for giving folks a product to look for. ~ MaryJane

    MJ, I think they have Whip It at the Coop… they have a good collection of Dr. Oetker stuff. Check it out, girlfriend – PJH

    Reply
  20. Lina

    I’ve also heard that (in lieu of stabilizer) instant pudding mix is supposed to do wonders! (I’ve never tried it though)

    Reply
  21. Elaine

    “You had me at…..peppermint!” you know this is my favorite combination. Me being able to resist? “Inconceivable!” Can’t wait to have some free time to make this. Thanks again my friend!

    Reply
  22. Bether

    Do you have an easy recommendation to make this gluten free? KAFs are the best GF flours, and believe me, I’ve kissed some toads before finding you, my prince! :)

    It wouldn’t be just the same, but start with our Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake recipe. Pour it into the pan so it fills it about halfway; you’ll probably have leftover batter you can make into cupcakes. Then proceed with the recipe from there. Good luck, and enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  23. Maria

    This looks amazing!!!! What else can i use instead of the stabilizer or clearJel? (Bacause we can´t find them in my country).
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Maria, one possibility would be to make Diplomat Cream, equal parts (by weight) pastry cream and whipped cream stabilized with a small amount of gelatin. ~Jaydl@KAF

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