Grasshopper Ombré Cake

Every year for my dad’s birthday - and sometimes also for Father’s Day - my mom makes a ‘Grasshopper cake.’ It’s a cake-take on the Grasshopper drink - typically made with Creme de Menthe, Creme de Cacao, and heavy cream. 
The Grasshopper cake has a mint green cake layer, a layer of chocolate fudge, and is topped with mint whipped cream. Having grown up with this cake as a yearly tradition, it’s a classic in my mind - annnd sometimes bakers get odd urges to tweak around the classics just a bit ;)

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 used food coloring in decreasing amounts per layer to get the ombré effect I wanted in the cake - I found adding more liqueur made the mint flavor so strong it turned bitter.
The recipe also calls for a jar of hot fudge sauce for the chocolate layer - I had a lot of semisweet chocolate chips on hand the day I made this cake, so I opted for a chocolate ganache filling instead.
I crumb-coated the layers, split the remaining frosting into thirds, and colored each third a deeper shade of green. I used the darkest one at the base of the cake and for decorating the top, and faded toward the lighter shades near the top of the cake.
I melted a little chocolate and piped a four leaf clover on a silpat mat- a few frosting swirls and chopped Andes mints layer the decorating was done!
Fun-looking cake for not-that-much effort ;) Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!!

Grasshopper Cake layers:
- 2 boxed white cake mixes
- 1 cup butter (or oil)
- 1 1/2 c water
- 1/2 c Creme de Menthe liqueur
- 8 egg whites (I used egg whites from a carton to not waste the yolks) 
- green food coloring (I used liquid, but you could also use gel food color) 

- 1 c (6 oz) chocolate chips
- 1 c (8 oz) heavy whipping cream

- 1 package (8oz) cream cheese
- 1 stick (8T) butter
- 6-7 c powdered sugar
- 2-4 T Creme de Menthe liqueur (to taste)
- Green food coloring 

2-4 T chocolate chips 
9-10 Andes Mints (or more if you tend to eat them as you're baking....) 

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease four 8- or 9-inch cake pans with baking spray with flour and/or line pans with parchment paper. 
Combine oil, egg whites, water, and Creme de Menthe in a bowl, and blend in packaged cake mix. (Essentially you're making a boxed mix but replacing 1/2 c of the water with mint liqueur. Feel free to follow the box's recipe if it doesn't match mine.) Beat for about 2 minutes, until well blended. Divide into fourths (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). Add progressively more green food coloring to each fourth of the batter (I used no additional food coloring for my top layer, about 5 drops for the second one, 10 for the third, and 15 for the base layer). Spread batter into prepared pans and bake for time specified on box; mine took about 25 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.
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. 

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. 

When your cake layers have cooled completely, stack them according to color, spreading chocolate ganache between them. Use prepared 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 spread with an offset spatula. (A bench scraper would've also worked, but I didn't have one when I made this cake!) ;) 

Decorate the cake however you'd like - I piped small bits of frosting with a star-tip around the base of the cake, and then used the same tip to make swirls of frosting around the top of the cake and one in the center. I decorated the outside swirls with a chopped Andes mints, and since it was nearing St. Patrick's Day when I made this cake, I piped a four-leaf clover with melted semisweet chocolate and used that in the center once it was set. 

Slice, serve, and enjoy! 

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