best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache #bundtbakers

It seems that no one single flavor is more universally popular during the holidays than peppermint!

best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Appropriately enough, the theme for this month’s #bundtbakers event was mint! Fresh mint, mint extract, mint oil, mint candies, mint chocolates, candy canes, you name it. It’s all fair game this month. I want to say a great big thank you to our host this month, Laura Tabacca of The Spiced Life, and encourage you to scroll down past the recipe to check out all the other amazing minty bundts this month!

best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was growing up I was a HUGE mint fan, and always got a pack of Andes mints and peppermint Altoids in my stocking for Christmas. I also loved baking with mint and drove my mother crazy putting peppermint extract in everything.

best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

I remember when I was just learning to bake, my sister and I made a peppermint cake that stuck to the pan when we tried to invert it. Instead of accepting defeat, we just scraped the cake out of the pan into a tupperware container. We then took the tupperware full of minty cake crumbs to my grandmother’s house and proudly presented them as “dessert”. We were young and I keep telling myself that we didn’t know any better.

Now that I’m older my taste for mint has waned a bit. I still like mint candies, and I only chew mint flavored gum (I don’t know why, but I HATE fruit flavored gum), but these days I almost never bake with mint.

best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Since I bake with mint so rarely, I felt a lot of (self-imposed) pressure when coming up with my bundt this month. I went through a ton of ideas, bouncing some off friends at work and actually laying awake at night thinking about what I might do. Finally I decided to keep it classic and simple, and went for a really solid chocolate bundt cake topped with peppermint dark chocolate ganache.

There’s no mint in the cake itself because I thought it would be the perfect subtle touch if it were just in the ganache. Once the cake is topped with crushed peppermint candies there is plenty of minty goodness happening here, trust me.

best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

I used peppermint oil in the ganache rather than extract. The oil has a much fresher, greener, herbal mint flavor than extract, which has more of a peppermint candy flavor. I did this, again, in the name of subtlety and elegance, and I was really happy with the way it came out. I will warn you though that, if you’re used to working with the extract, the oil is MUCH stronger and more concentrated, and should be used very sparingly. When I first made my ganache I actually used WAAAAY too much (1/2 teaspoon) and it tasted like chocolate toothpaste. I adjusted the recipe and decided just a few drops was plenty to give the ganache all the mint flavor it needed. If you really like mint you may want to use a few more drops, but don’t go crazy or you’ll regret it.

If you can’t find peppermint oil, or don’t want to buy one more thing for the pantry, peppermint extract would be totally delicious too. Since it’s not as strongly concentrated, you’ll probably want to use a bit more, but I suggest you start with about a 1/4 a teaspoon first and see if you need to add more.

best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

After all that planning and brainstorming, I’m so happy that I went with these classic flavors.

I cannot say enough about this chocolate bundt cake recipe. It’s adapted from my favorite chocolate bundt cake ever, and it’s my go-to recipe whenever I want chocolate to be the star of the show. It’s unbelievably moist and tender and richly, deeply, darkly chocolatey. The original recipe calls for brewed coffee, but I didn’t want the coffee flavor to compete with the mint so I just used water this time. It’s highly adaptable, and I’ve even had great success substituting an equal amount of orange juice for the coffee (or water), in my chocolate orange bundt cake.

The peppermint dark chocolate ganache on top takes everything to a whole other level of holiday perfection. It’s the perfect touch of mint to make this cake scream “HAPPY HOLIDAYS!” To break up all the dark brown chocolate and add a pop of festive holiday color, I sprinkled crushed peppermint candies over the ganache before it set. Not only does it look pretty, but it adds even more of that sweet peppermint flavor!

best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Best Chocolate Bundt Cake with Peppermint Dark Chocolate Ganache

adapted from Joy the Baker

For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup peanut oil or any neutral vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

For the Peppermint Dark Chocolate Ganache:
4 oz best quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
a few small drops of peppermint oil
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candies or candy canes, if desired.

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Liberally butter and flour a 10 to 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside.

Whisk water and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low for just one minute. Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.
Add the flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes more.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. The batter will seem quite loose and liquid.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 55-65, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.

To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream in a heavy pot, just until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for a minute or so, then whisk to combine. Add a few small drops of peppermint oil, and taste to see if you’d like to add more. DO NOT add more than 1/4 teaspoon. Peppermint oil is STRONG.
If using peppermint extract, start with 1/4 teaspoon, taste, and adjust if necessary.

Drizzle ganache over the cake while it’s still warm and liquid. Sprinkle crushed peppermint candies over the top if desired. Let the ganache set for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Don’t make this too far in advance of serving, or the candies may begin to melt. If you want to make in advance, I’d just bake the cake ahead, cover tightly with wrap, and wait to top with ganache and candies until you’re almost ready to serve.

best chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

All these amazing minty bundts sound so festive and delicious! Check ‘em out y’all!

BundtBakers

Interested in learning more about us? #BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the BundtBaker home page here.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com. If you are just a lover of Bundt baking, you can find all of our recipe links by clicking our badge above or on our group Pinterest board.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache

Don’t blink folks, it’s almost Christmas!

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Every year it feels like it just sneaks up on me. No sooner have I taken a breath after the Thanksgiving dishes are washed than Christmas is a week away and I still haven’t done any shopping. I am terrible about waiting until the last minute to buy gifts. Always have been.

Luckily cookies make a great gift!

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Growing up my family always had trays of cookies around in the days leading up to Christmas, and having a variety of treats around always made things feel that much more festive and celebratory.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

One way to get that big variety of cookies for the holidays, without having to spend days in the kitchen, is to throw a cookie swap. A traditional cookie swap is basically a party where everyone makes one big batch of one type of cookie, and then everyone gets together and exchanges them. To make it really fun you can serve snacks and cocktails and have a packing station with cute paper boxes and cookie tins and tags and ribbons and twine. All the cookies are divided evenly and then everyone goes home with a handful of each type.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve always wanted to host a cookie swap but have never felt like enough of my friends would want to participate to make it worth my while.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Thanks to the magic of internet though, I got to get in on the fun after all. This year I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, organized by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen.

the great food blogger cookie swap 2014 | Brooklyn Homemaker

The idea is simple. You register as a participating blogger, make a small donation, and you’re assigned three bloggers to send cookies to. Then three other bloggers are assigned to send cookies to you. It’s like secret santa through the mail, but with dozens of cookies! Last year over 600 bloggers participated and over $14,000 was raised for Cookies for Kid’s Cancer!

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wanted to make a recipe that felt really special to me, and had flavors that I’ve always associated with the holidays. I’ve always had a love of dark molassessy spice cookies at Christmas, and linzer cookies have always felt really fancy, so I decided to combine the two ideas into one perfect holiday cookie.

The gingerbread recipe I used has been my favorite for years, and makes a really delicious cookie all on it’s own. If you want to make gingerbread cut outs, this is a great recipe to try. The cookies are thick and chewy and dark and bursting with plenty of spice. There’s warm spices like cinnamon and cloves, but there’s also a nice hint of actual heat from ground black pepper and ginger.

To take things to a whole other level of fancy, I sandwiched the cookies with an orange white chocolate ganache filling. It’s just the right amount of creamy sweetness and bright citrus zest to perfectly compliment the chewy spiciness of the gingerbread. When choosing white chocolate it’s really important to read the ingredients and make sure it actually contains cocoa butter. Most white baking chocolate and white chocolate chips actually don’t, but are instead white chocolate flavored sweetened palm. My advice is to look for plain white chocolate bars in the candy aisle instead.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

My cookies went to Club Narwhal, Love and Joy, and Pale Yellow. I hope they enjoyed them as much as I did, and as much as I enjoyed making them. There’s something about making cookies this time of year that is so much more fun than usual!

I received chocolate brown butter cookies from The Sassy Life, almond lace sandwich cookies from Love and Olive Oil, and peppermint sugar cookies from Greens & Chocolate. Everything was amazing, and Russell and I have been munching away merrily every since! What’s left of the cookies even made a guest appearance in my Mexican hot dark chocolate post!

Thank you so much to everyone who sent me cookies, and to everyone who participated this year! This was so much fun, and now I have a bunch of new favorite cookies for the holidays!

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Spicy Gingerbread Linzer Cookies with Orange White Chocolate Ganache

  • Servings: makes about 2 1/2 dozen 2.5 inch cookies
  • Print
Spicy Gingerbread Cookies:
Barely adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk

white chocolate ganache filling (recipe below)
powdered sugar for dusting

Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment. Pulse until well combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and pulse repeatedly until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 30 seconds. With food processor running, add molasses and milk and process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds.
If you want to double the recipe, you’ll need to make it in multiple batches.
Divide dough in half and roll into ¼ inch thickness between two large sheets of parchment paper. Place in refrigerator at least two hours (or overnight) or place on a flat surface in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes, until firm. The colder the dough is the easier it is to work with, so I recommend freezing.
Preheat the oven to 350F and adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Once cold and firm, peel the top sheet of parchment from the dough, flip the dough over onto the parchment, and peel off the other piece. You can cut into any shape you like, but if you want to make linzer cookies make sure you have one cutter that is 1/2 the size of the other (or smaller) to make your “window” in the top cookie. Cut out half the cookies in a solid “base” shape, and cut the remaining half of the cookies so that the smaller cutter forms a “window” hole in the center of the top cookie.
Place on prepared baking sheets spacing cookies 1 inch apart. Bake until centers are just set and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, anywhere from 8 to 11 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. To bake evenly, rotate the baking sheets halfway through. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 5 to 10 minutes or until cool and firm enough to remove from the parchment without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Gather scraps into a ball and repeat rolling, cooling, cutting, and baking with remaining dough until all is used.

Orange White Chocolate Ganache Filling:

7 oz good quality white chocolate (from bars, not chips)
1/4 cup heavy cream
finely grated zest of one large orange
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In the the bowl of a double boiler over a very gentle simmer, break up the white chocolate into small pieces and combine with the heavy cream, orange zest, and salt. Stir with a silicone spatula until the chocolate is completely melted with no solid chunks remaining. Take your time, and be sure that the water in the lower pan never goes above a gentle simmer.
Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat, add the butter and gently stir until completely melted and combined.
Set aside to cool until firm but spreadable. This will take about an hour or two. I’d recommend that you don’t try to refrigerate it because if it gets too cold it’ll be too firm and you’ll need to melt it again to soften it.

With a small offset icing spatula, or a butter knife, spread a small amount (probably about 2 teaspoons) of the ganache filling on to each base cookie. Top each of the filling-covered base cookies with a top cookie and line the filled cookie sandwiches up in a single layer on a clean surface. Dust all the cookies with a light coating of powdered sugar.

If packing for transport or shipping, I’d recommend refrigerating for at least an hour to fully set the ganache.

Mexican dark hot chocolate

So, the other day, I took the subway seven stops clutching a small tree.

 Mexican dark hot chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

This time of year it’s not that rare to see otherwise sane looking adults dragging whole trees, minus the roots, through the streets of New York. Tourists point and stare at grown men in expensive coats struggling against the weight of the trees on their backs as they try to walk down the subway stairs. Women in heels choose trees twice their size and tip delivery men because they know better.

Mexican dark hot chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was growing up we always had an artificial tree so, of course, I always wanted a real one. If we’d always had real trees I’d probably be sitting here writing about the joys of fluffing and shaping artificial branches.

Mexican dark hot chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

Every year since getting my first apartment I’ve had a real tree. This year I went for a modest 3-footer, but over the years I’ve had big ones, small ones, potted ones, cut ones, and little tiny live ones that came with teeny tiny ornaments attached. A few years ago we just decorated a house plant because we were so strapped for cash that we didn’t want to waste money on a tree. It was a 3 foot dwarf palm with string lights and blue, green, and purple bulbs. No star.

Mexican dark hot chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’d had those blue and green and purple ornaments for years, and I bought a few of them from the dollar store in Saranac Lake, New York for my very first tree in my first apartment. Last year we decided to finally put them to rest, and to simplify with a white and silver scheme instead.

When I was little I’d made craft dough Christmas ornaments with my mother and sister, so last year I adapted the idea and made “gingerbread” salt dough ornaments cut into the shapes of snowflakes and furry woodland creatures. If you want to try the project out for yourself, check out my gingerbread salt dough ornament tutorial.

Mexican dark hot chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

To warm us up while we decorated I made a spiced Mexican dark hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream. I recommend using the highest quality chocolate you can get for this. Use a chocolate bar that you would eat on it’s own, not something you find in the baking aisle. Since there’s little more to this than milk, a bit of spice, and the chocolate; the chocolate you choose will make a big difference in the flavor.

Mexican dark hot chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

This hot chocolate is rich and dark and thick and creamy. It’s got just a hint of spicy warmth, and a tiny bit of caramel-y sweetness from a touch of brown sugar. It’s just barely sweet, but is still so rich that a small serving is completely satisfying. If you don’t care for dark chocolate and want to use milk instead, I’d recommend you skip the addition of brown sugar or it may end up too sweet. If you like to get down, I’d also highly recommend adding an ounce or two of whiskey to each serving. If you don’t want to get too crazy but like a touch of the sauce, you could add a tablespoon or so to your whipped cream instead.

Mexican dark hot chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

Mexican Dark Hot Chocolate

adapted, just barely, from Ina Garten for Food Network

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
4 ounces good dark chocolate (about 70%), chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
more cinnamon, for dusting

Place the milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Off the heat add the chocolate and vanilla. Let the chocolate sit and melt in the milk for a minute or two before whisking in to combine. If necessary, reheat the hot chocolate over low heat just until it simmers.

In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the cream and powdered sugar until the cream whips up into stiff peaks. You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer if desired, but it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes or so to do by hand, and you’re not making much.

Divide the hot chocolate between mugs and top with whipped cream. If desired, dust very lightly with cinnamon before serving.

Casa Neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway!!!

UPDATE: CONTEST HAS ENDED! Winners will be contacted by email

Have you ever worked with a ceramic knife before?

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

The ceramic material used to make ceramic knives is so hard that the blades rarely need to be sharpened, so they’re a great option for cooks who are intimidated by knife sharpening or just don’t have the time (and these days who does?)

Well – I’ve got great news! Just in time for the holidays, the amazing folks at the Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based Casa Neuhaus have offered to give away one of their ceramic knives to three readers of Brooklyn Homemaker! Can you believe it? Not one… THREE!

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

They have three knives to offer; a 3 inch paring knife, a 5 inch utility knife, and a 7 inch chef knife, and three lucky winners will win one of these three styles for free!

I’ve had a chance to use these knives myself, and I have to tell you that they’re amazing. They’re super super sharp and haven’t dulled one iota despite the abuse I put them through in my kitchen. Not only that, but they’re also really lightweight and beautifully designed. They’re gorgeous and modern looking with dark blades and stainless steel handles, and they even come with in their own really attractive gift boxes complete with sheathes that fit snugly over the blades to protect them from damage. Most ceramic knives don’t come with a sheath, but since ceramic can crack or chip if knocked around in a drawer, I think this is one of my favorite features!

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you have ever worked with a ceramic knife before, odds are that you’ve used white ceramic. Casa Neuhaus‘ knives have black ceramic blades made of black zirconium oxide. Unlike white ceramic blade, black zirconium oxide offers even more sharpness and durability than traditional ceramic knives. These knives even come with a three-year sharpness warranty that includes a free sharpening service (if needed)!

And hey, if you don’t win but still want one of these knives, they’re very reasonably priced and available through their webstore.

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

Want to know more?

Here are the basics, from their website:

WHY CERAMIC?

ceramic knife is a knife made out of very hard and tough ceramic, often zirconium dioxide (ZrO2); also known as zirconia. These knives are usually produced by dry pressing zirconia powder and firing them through solid-state sintering. The resultant blade is sharpened by grinding the edges with a diamond-dust-coated grinding wheel. Zirconia is 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, compared to 7.5 to 8 for hardened steel and 10 for diamond. This very hard edge rarely needs sharpening.

WHAT IS ZIRCONIA?

Zirconia is technically a laboratory manufactured diamond and thats what our knives are, thats why they are so sharp! We even give them a final heat treatment that makes them even stronger than other ceramic knives on the market, hence the dark color.

ANY SPECIAL CARE OR INSTRUCTIONS?

Just follow the following and your knives will last a lifetime:
– Never use them on any kind of bones or frozen stuff. Remember our knives are super sharp and strong but not unbreakable.
– Hand wash them. Don’t put them in the dishwasher. Remember that ceramic doesn’t absorb any taste or smell so just use a wet sponge to clean them.
– Don’t forget to put their cover sheet even if they are in the drying rack.
– Be careful to not drop them on a hard surface. And always use your ceramic knife with a plastic or wooden cutting board.

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

Contest rules:

Three winners will be chosen, each will win one knife.

Entries will be accepted until, and contest will end on, Monday December 15th, at 6PM EST.

To enter, please follow these links and “like” both Brooklyn Homemaker and Casa Neuhaus on facebook. Then come back and leave the comment “Gimme that knife!” on this post, and tell me what you want to cook with your new knife if you win!

Only one comment per entrant, please.  Sorry, but immediate family is excluded. The winning knives can only be shipped within the contiguous United States, so entrants must live or have a mailing address within the lower 48. Winner will be chosen, using a random number generator, from the total number of comments when the contest comes to a close. Winner will be contacted via email for shipping information.casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

Good luck! And happy holidays from Brooklyn Homemaker and Casa Neuhaus!