Sweets for the Sweet

As Valentine's Day approaches, Mark and I tend not to think of it as a lover's holiday but more a day in which we celebrate all the people we love - parents, siblings, friends and our family-of-choice (honorary mothers, fathers, siblings, aunts and uncles).

One such person is our dear friend, S.  She is a woman of "a certain age" - one that remembers The Great Depression, World War II, and a slew of other historic events.  We rarely talk of those events but, having lived through them, she has some of the most incredible stories to share.  From the day we met her, we have laughed through many evenings.  I have never known anyone who enjoys life more than she, and it is contagious.  Many say, "When I grow up, I want to be just like her!" - even if they have surpassed her in years; this isn't about age, it is about state of mind.

On any given day, S. might be my sister (the one I never had) - or my mother (my birth mother died when I was not yet 30).  But on every day, she is my friend - someone with whom to share meals, a glass of wine and concerns for one another.   Just last evening she called us to make sure our pipes hadn't burst in case we needed a bed and shower at her home.  She is someone of whom we will think on Valentine's Day.

And, it is for her that we made this cake at Christmas time.  S. loves the combination of peppermint and chocolate, and I am always trying to find good recipes with this combination to make for her.  And this one had a really nice Christmas feel about it, but it could fit the bill for Valentine's Day, too -  especially if you have a few leftover candy canes from Christmas.  The cake itself is like a brownie - chewy on the edges with a dense and moist interior.  The milk chocolate/peppermint filling is worth making by itself - perfect icing for any cake, or to sandwich between two sugar cookies.  And topping the cake with a dark, rich ganache (also flavored with peppermint) just pushes it over the edge!

This is what I call a "weekend cake" - a recipe for which you need a good full day to make it.  But, for me (and I think many of us who like to cook), spending the day in the kitchen is the best therapy for me, and often less expensive than the psychological variety.  But not always... those truffle posts nearly broke the bank!

So enjoy your Valentine's Day - with all the people you love!

- David

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cake
(adapted from Bon App├ętit)

8 ounces best-quality milk chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

3 candy canes, crushed

For filling: Place chocolate in medium bowl.  Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan.  Pour hot mixture over chocolate; add extract and let stand 1 minute.  Whisk until mixture is smooth.  Let filling stand at room temperature while cake is baking and cooling.

For cake: Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 350°F.  Butter a 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides (do not use a springform pan!).  Line bottom with parchment paper. Butter parchment. Dust pan with flour.  Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend.  Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in both sugars, then vanilla.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions each.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool cake in pan on rack 5 minutes.  Turn out cake onto rack and peel off parchment.  Cover loosely and cool completely.

Using electric mixer, beat filling until fluffy and lightened in color, about 30 seconds.  Using serrated knife, cut cake horizontally in half.  Place 1 layer, cut side up, on rack set over baking sheet.  Spread filling over.  Top with second layer, cut side down.  Cover tightly and chill filled cake 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze: Stir chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth.  Mix in extract.  Cool glaze until just lukewarm but still pourable, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Pour 1/2 cup glaze over center of cake.  Spread over top and sides of cake.  Chill until glaze sets, about 15 minutes.  Pour remaining glaze over center of cake, then spread quickly over top and sides.  Chill until glaze sets, about 1 hour.  (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill.  Before continuing, let stand at room temperature until softened, about 4 hours.)

Sprinkle candies around top edge of cake.


  1. Mmmm, looking super tasty! I love sweets, and this sounds perfect :)

  2. Thanks, Meredith! Perhaps an anniversary cake for you and your husband?


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