Grasshopper Ombre cake layers:
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
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 (or buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
½ c Crème de Menthe liqueur
1/8 cup vegetable oil
(Save & add later) Green gel food color - I used Americolor Leaf Green!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
Mix bits 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 looks crumbly.
Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated. Combine the Crème de Menthe, buttermilk, and vanilla, and mix in on a low speed. Add in 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 (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). Color each bowl of batter a progressively darker shade of green. I used about 1 small drop of gel color for the top layer, 2 for the second layer, and 3-4 for the base layer. Pour into the prepared cake pans.
Bake for 35-37 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans. 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 and break.
This is a great time to make your frosting and drip!
1 c (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 c (6 oz) heavy whipping cream
Meanwhile, make your ganache. Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Add whipping cream and microwave on half power for 30-second intervals, stirring in between until completely melted and smooth.
Mint Cream Cheese Buttercream frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons Creme de Menthe liqueur
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
(Save and add later for coloring darker green frosting shades - Green gel food color - I like Americolor Leaf Green!)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with Creme de Menthe until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add salt if needed and beat until well combined.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) or an 8” acrylic cake disc (I started using these so I wouldn’t waste so many cake circles!)
- Small piping bag & tip – this set has been one of my favorites, and the small star and round tip I used for decorating are in the kit!
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
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
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! If you need to re-warm your ganache to melt it, let it cool 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!