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Chocolate Mint Cake

My Dad is the sort of person that you can always rely on in an emergency. If I needed to call on him at 3am he'd be there, even if I were in Scotland. When I was younger he was always the easier going parent, the one who was the easiest to get round. He worked on the News Papers and sometimes he'd pick us up in his delivery van with a gift under the seat.

Serves 8-10

100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
250g Stork margarine or unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon mint extract
250g self-raising flour
100ml Double cream or milk
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
30g cocoa

200g dark chocolate 
200ml double cream
A bunch of mint stems

250g icing sugar
125g unsalted softened butter
green food colouring
75g melted white chocolate
2 tbsp hot water
1 family size bags of mint aero balls (bashed in the bags)

I made 3 types of chocolate buttons using a silicone button mould. But you could use more aero balls or any minty chocolates.

You will also need 3 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and the bases lined with buttered baking parchment, a piping bag fitted with a plain1cm nozzle and ribbons to decorate. 

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/Gas mark 4. 

Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl either over a pan of barely simmering water or in the microwave on a low setting. Remove from the heat, stir until smooth and leave to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a free-standing mixer cream the Stork and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and mint extract. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa mix until combined. Add the melted chocolate and cream/milk, mix again until smooth.

Divide equally between the prepared sandwich tins, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes.

Turn the cakes out of the tins onto a wire cooling rack and leave until completely cold. If you have time pop them into the freeze to firm up for an hour, this will make icing easier. 

To make the buttercream, whip the butter until light and fluffy, then add the icing sugar and continue to whip for 6-8 minutes, adding the hot water, food colour and melted white chocolate for the last minutes whipping. 

To make the ganache, finely chop both the chocolate and tip into a saucepan along with the double cream. Set the pan over a low heat to melt, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour the ganache into a shallow dish, add the stems of mint and leave to firm up. Remove the mint leaves before you start to assemble the cake.

To assemble the cake, cover the bottom layer of cake with half the buttercream, sprinkle with the crushed chocolates, cover with a thin layer of ganache. Place the second sponge onto the filling and repeat the process. 

Cover the top of the third cake layer with ganache, spreading it smoothly with a palette knife, finish with your choice of decoration. In the picture I spread the sides with buttercream, but I wouldn't advise as the cake is very soft and was very crumbly.