There are times when you have to bake a cake for a very special occasion, this is one such cake. I feel that this should be served after a lavish dinner party with a string quartet playing in the background! Okay maybe that is taking it a bit too far but it is definitely the type of cake that spells posh (to me, anyway). After Eight's were always the sweets that you mother kept for the grown up's or for special occasions like Birthdays, they have a certain elusiveness to them. So this cake is for grown up's only, no sharing with the little ones ;)
Recipe slightly adapted from Rachel Allen Cake
125g Dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150g Butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200g Plain flour, sifted
2 tsp Baking powder
100g After Eight mints
For the icing
15g Grated dark chocolate
250g Icing sugar, sifted
100g Butter, softened
1 tbsp Lemon juice
A few drops of peppermint essence, optional
A few drops of green food colouring, optional
20g Dark chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 180ºC or 160ºC Fan/ 350ºF /Gas 4. Grease and line both the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin, I used a greased and floured silicone cake tin instead.
Melt the chocolate and milk in a heatproof bowl on high in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each session until melted or set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. When melted remove from the heat and set aside.
Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Continuing to beat, pour in the melted chocolate, then add the eggs, one at time, beating continuously.
Add the flour, baking powder and mints and gently fold in just until mixed (lowest setting on your mixer).
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, level off and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (although there may still be traces of mint or chocolate). The mints did sink slightly in the mix but it only added to the finished cake.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before carefully removing the cake and leaving on a wire rack to cool down completely. If you ice before the cake is completely cool, the icing will melt right off in a puddle on your serving plate!!
Meanwhile make up the icing as follows. Grate the dark chocolate with a vegetable peeler or grated, set aside. Beat together the softened butter, icing sugar, lemon juice, green food colouring and peppermint essence together until light and fluffy.
Carefully fold in the grated chocolate until just combined.
Spread the icing over the cooled cake with a butter knife or a pallet knife if you have one handy.
I piped 20g of melted dark chocolate directly onto baking paper into the shape of leaves (although some look more like chocolate goldfish!!), allowed them to set and then used them to decorate the top of the cake. The original recipe called for fresh mint leaves to be dipped (on one side only) in melted dark chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set, then peel off the mint leaves and use the chocolate leaves to decorate the cake. I didn't have any fresh mint so I improvised.