Grasshopper Ombré Cake – the Remix ;)

"If it's worth doing....then it's worth doing poorly until you can do it well."

- My dad

So this is actually a ‘remix’ of a cake I did earlier this year – probably about six months or so ago. I’ve done a lot of YouTube/Pinterest/Instagram video/tutorial watching and almost as much baking/practicing in the meantime – so when I received an order for a grasshopper cake for a birthday party, I decided to re-shoot an assembly video and re-post the recipe(s) I used to put this cake together 😉 I used a boxed mix and Crème de Menthe last time – that’s how we made Grasshopper cakes growing up – but I have a new favorite white cake recipe and decided I’d use scratch cake layers this time around 😉 Here goes!

Grasshopper cake layers: 

Note - this is a slightly-modified vanilla layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com - I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven't before; it's amazing!! 

3 1/4 c.  all purpose flour
3 c.  granulated sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t.  salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
1 c egg whites (about 7 eggs; you can use egg whites from a carton to avoid wasting the yolks)
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
½ c Crème de Menthe liqueur
1/8 cup vegetable oil
Green liquid and/or gel food coloring

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or 8 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined. Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix the Crème de Menthe and buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide batter evenly between three bowls (or four if you’re using 7-inch pans). I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part. Color each bowl of batter a progressively darker shade of green. I used about 3 drops for the top layer, 10 for the second layer, and  a drop of green Americolor gel food coloring for the base layer. Pour into the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8 inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7 inch cake pans (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

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.

Ganache:

  • 2 c (12 oz) chocolate chips
  • 1 ½  c (12 oz) heavy whipping cream

Meanwhile, make your ganache. Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky. Chill until thick enough to spread, but don't let it solidify completely. 

Frosting:

  • 1 package (8oz) cream cheese
  • 2 sticks (16 T) butter
  • 6-7 c powdered sugar
  • 2-4 T Creme de Menthe liqueur (to taste)
  • Green liquid and/or gel food coloring

To make the frosting, beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with Creme de Menthe liqueur until frosting reaches desired taste, color, and consistency. 

Toppings:
2 chocolate bars (I used a dark mint chocolate bar)
10-12 Andes Mints (or more if you tend to eat them as you're baking....) 
½ c chocolate chips 

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- small piping bag & tip
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! 

Assembly:

When your cake layers have cooled completely, place the darkest green layer on your cake circle (I like to anchor my base layer with a smear of frosting so it doesn’t slide while I’m decorating). Pipe a ring of frosting around the outside of the cake layer (to keep the ganache from showing on the outside of the cake) and spread chocolate ganache over the layer. Repeat the process with your second cake layer, and place the final layer on top.  Note – make sure you reserve at least 1/3-1/2 c of ganache to use for the drip! 😉

Use frosting to crumb-coat your cake (if you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting to keep cake crumbs out of your outermost frosting layer). Chill cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (or 10 in the freezer) to set the crumb coat. 

While your cake is chilling, divide your remaining frosting into thirds and color the same way you did your cake layers - progressively darker shades of green. (I made my largest third the darkest green so I'd have some leftover to use for decorating.) Once the crumb coat is set, you're ready to frost your cake - I found it easiest to pipe on the colored frosting layers and smooth with a bench scraper.  Set your cake in the freezer – both to set the frosting and prep the cake for the ganache drip 😊

Okay – ganache drip time! When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those, I've  just found spoons to be a little bit more difficult to work with.
Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more ganache fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.

Decorate the cake however you'd like – I was making a cake for a teenage boy’s birthday, so I tried to use angular-looking decorations and avoid too many swirls 😉 I used small amounts of green frosting to anchor broken pieces of chocolate and Andes mints over about half of the cake, and covered the ganache drip in chocolate shavings – this left room to pipe lettering on the open space and wish the cake recipient a Happy Birthday 😉

Keep cake chilled until ready to serve – then slice and enjoy! 

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! 🙂 

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