Every year for my dad's birthday...
my mom makes a ‘Grasshopper cake.’ It’s a sheet-cake-take on the Grasshopper drink – typically made with Creme de Menthe, Creme de Cacao, and heavy cream.
The ‘Grasshopper cake’ I grew up with has a mint green sheet cake layer, a layer of chocolate fudge, and is topped with mint whipped cream. Put in charge of my dad’s birthday cake this year, I wanted to make a fusion of the ‘cocktail cakes’ I’ve been loving lately AND the Grasshopper cake I grew up with!
My mom's cake recipe calls for a white cake mix - baked to package directions except that you replace half of the water with Creme de Menthe liqueur to give the cake a mint flavor and light green color. I did the same with chocolate cake mix and Crème de Cacao – and marbled the mixes to make my cake layers!
When I was decorating I sort of split the cake in two parts – part drip cake, but the rest covered in a piped layer of the mint whipped cream that traditionally covers a Grasshopper cake.
You guys. It was SO good!!
And for as fancy as it looks – shockingly easy! Recipe below!
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Grasshopper Martini Cake Layers:
2 white cake mixes
1 chocolate (or devil’s food) cake mix
3 eggs + 9 egg whites (or use egg whites from a carton to avoid wasting yolks) (divided)
1.5 cups unsalted butter, melted (divided)
3 c milk (divided)
½ c Crème de Menthe
¼ c Crème de Cacao
Combine your 2 white cake mixes with 1 cup butter, 2 cups milk, 1 egg + 7 whites, and 1/2 cup creme de menthe.
Combine your chocolate cake mix with 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup milk, and 2 eggs + 2 egg whites.
Mix well, scrape down the bowls, and mix for another 30 seconds until well combined.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part! I added spoonfuls at a time, using roughly a 2:1 ratio of mint to chocolate per pan. I ended up with about 600g in my large pans and about 400 in my smaller ones. The ratios don't have to be exact, but using the kitchen scale guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.
While you’re waiting…make your frosting!
12 oz (one and a half packages) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
10 c powdered sugar
1 ½ cup cocoa powder
6 T Crème de Cacao
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with Crème de Cacao until frosting reaches desired consistency. Beat until well combined.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) and 1 six-inch cake board – one option is to buy a set like this one that contains a variety of cake circle sizes and trimmable dowels
- Ruler (for spacing cake dowels)
- Small piping bag & tip – this set has been one of my favorites!
- White candy melts + heavy whipping cream + teal gel food color for drip (recipe below!)
- 15-20 Andes Mints
-1 jar hot fudge topping (cake filling)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream + + ¼ c powdered sugar + 2 packets/1 teaspoons gelatin + 6T water + additional 2 T Crème de Menthe – for making stabilized whipped cream for piping onto the cake
- small knife and cutting board
- additional small piping bag or squeeze bottle (for decorating with chocolate ganache)
- martini glass – I used a glass one, but feel free to use a plastic martini glass if you’d rather
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful!
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired; these cakes usually bake fairly flat so I didn’t trim much from the tops). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your large cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your large first cake layer in the center of the circle. I piped a bit of frosting in a border around the edge of the cake layer before adding my hot fudge filling, but I don’t think it was probably necessary. Spread the layer with hot fudge filling (don’t heat it up or it’ll be too thin to work with!) Sprinkle the filling with chopped Andes mints and add your next cake layer on top. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Next, repeat the same process with your smaller cardboard circle and cake layers. Of note – if your circles aren’t pre-center-punched, be sure to grab a skewer or knife and cut your own hole in the exact center of the circle! This will allow you to center the tier on the base tier later on.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coats have set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. For my larger tier, I was able to smooth the frosting fairly well free-handed, but I struggled getting the sides smooth on my smaller one. Setting a second small cake circle on top and using it as a guide for smoothing my icing worked much more easily for me!
Place both tiers into the freezer for about 20 minutes to set the frosting and get the cake cold enough to set the drip decoration.
(This is a great time to make your ‘candy melt ganache’ for the drip, but I’ll include instructions for stacking your tiers first. Ganache recipe is below!)
Okaaaay. The stacking process!
Basically, doweling a tiered cake is done to ensure that the top tier doesn’t crush the lower tier, as well as keeping it centered. I used four shorter cut-to-height plastic straws for my base tier dowels, and one taller one cut at an angle in the center to hold my top tier in place.
Grab your ruler for this next part! Since I was centering a 6-inch cake on top of an 8-inch cake, I pushed the straws down into the base tier just over one inch from the cake edge, placing them evenly at quarter intervals around the cake. Place your last, tallest straw or dowel into the exact center of the cake, making sure to keep it straight up as you press down. Now you’re ready – center the hole in the bottom of your top tier cake circle over the tallest dowel and let the top tier gently down onto the base tier. The dowel will poke into the center of the top tier to hold it in place.
Pat yourself on the back; you did it! I found that my cardboard cake circle showed more than I was happy with, so I piped some extra frosting onto the base of the top tier to hide it.
Place heavy cream and candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between. Add gel food color and stir until smooth – I actually used a tiny bit of gel teal and one drop of green liquid food color, shooting for the color of the center of the Andes mints.
I used small zip-lock bags to pipe this drip since my drip bottles were full of chocolate ganache from another project, but a drip bottle would work well also!
When your candy melt ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm but still be liquid – transfer it to your piping bag or squeeze bottle. Slowly drizzle ganache around the edge of the cake, pausing about every ¾ to 1 inch to let ganache flow down the side of the cake to create a drip. Pour a few tablespoons over the top of the cake and spread gently with an offset spatula, then turn your martini glass over and center it on top of the cake.
Repeat the drip around half the edge of the base tier. Place the cake in the fridge for a few minutes to set the drip.
Stabilized whipped cream –
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ¼ c powdered sugar
- 2 packets/1 teaspoons gelatin
- 6T water
- Additional 2 T Crème de Menthe –
Chill mixing bowl & beaters in the freezer before beating. Bloom gelatin in water + Crème de Menthe for 5 minutes. Dissolve gelatin by microwaving for 2-3 minutes (until boiling), stirring after every minute. Remove from microwave and allow to stand for 15 minutes; mixture must be liquid but not warm when added to whipping cream.
Remove bowl and beaters from refrigerator and pour in the whipping cream and sugar. Beat together just until beater marks begin to show as you beat. Add gelatin mix to whipping cream, pouring in a slow steady stream while beating constantly. Beat to stiff peaks & transfer to a piping bag – I smeared bits of hot fudge topping on the inside of my piping to add chocolate streaks to the whipping cream.
Pipe stabilized whipped cream onto the sides/top of the cake in whatever amount you’d like – the recipe above makes plenty! You could half it if you don’t want to use as much as I did.
Step back and admire your amaaazing cake! Enjoy!
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!