Some things in life just work perfectly together and chocolate and mint fall into this category. With summer now in full swing I like to make the most of what we grow in the garden and allotment be it fruit,vegetables or herbs. Even if you have no outdoor space you can grow some herbs on a window sill. Do remember to keep them watered as at this time of year they do dry up very quickly and they don't recover once the leaves go dry.
This recipe uses simple garden mint which you can either plant in your garden (make sure it is in a pot otherwise it will run wild) or buy in pots or as leaves in a packet from supermarkets. The taste of the mint is much nicer than when using a mint flavouring like peppermint. Once cooked you can still see flecks of the green mint in the cake which I think makes it stand out.
Equipment: 2 x 8in (20cm) sandwich tins greased and lined, pestle and mortar, 2 large bowls, electric whisk/beaters, wire racks.
8oz (225g) Caster sugar
3 tbsp (45ml) Fresh mint leaves
4oz (115g) Unsalted butter, soften or baking spread
8oz (225g) Self-raising flour
2oz (55g) Cocoa powder
4fl oz (125ml) Warm water
2oz (55g) Unsalted butter, softened
3oz (85g) Icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp (15ml) Fresh mint leaves
1oz (28g) Cocoa powder
2tbsp (30ml) Hot water
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.
2. In the mortar grind together 1tbsp (15ml) of the sugar with the mint and then put to one side.
3. Weigh out the flour and cocoa and put to one side.
4. In a large bowl cream together the butter with the rest of the sugar plus the minty sugar.
5. Beat in the eggs one at a time adding a spoonful of the flour each time.
6. Fold in the remaining flour along with the cocoa and then add the warm water.
7. Divide between the tins equally and smooth the surface.
8. Bake for around 25 minutes until springy to the touch. Remove from the tins and leave to cool completely on wire racks.
9. Once the cakes have cooled make up the buttercream by putting the butter in a large bowl and then beating to completely soften.
10. Add the icing sugar and mint leaves and beat again.
11. Blend the cocoa with the water, pour in and then beat one more time.
12. Spread on top of one of the cake layers and then top with the other layer.