Basically, it all boils down to this: if I like you, I will bake you a cake for your birthday/engagement/niece’s quincenera/whatever. But if I adore you, I will make you one of my four favorite cakes on the planet.
This mojito cake is one of them (for the record: nutella bread pudding, pumpkin praline trifle, and this really life-changing orange caramel cake are the other three). It’s not the simplest dessert to make–the original CakeLove recipe is three pages long– but it is a labor of love that pays for itself four-fold in its deliciousness.
Last weekend I got the chance to make this cakeypoo for an especially lovely woman on her thirtieth birthday. It’s light, boozy, unique and a great party trick– the only way this cake gets better is if you get to enjoy it with your favorite people.
Some points about this cake: (1) it requires dried mint, which means you have to roast up mint leaves and then pull off the leaves from the stem. This is best done when listening to Afroman’s “Colt 45” (2) This icing is not for the anxiety-ridden amongst us. I have made this particular recipe with a success rate of only 50%. DO NOT make this icing unless you have time to remake it or have Xanax and a can of Betty Crocker handy (3) Each ingredient is absolutely essential. I went to the grocery store three times between the hours of midnight and 7am because I kept forgetting something. Do not substitute. Trust the cake.
CakeLove Mojito Cake with Rum Meringue Icing
- 2 1/4 c + 2 TBS all-purpose flour
- 1/4 c potato starch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 bunches fresh mint
- 2/3 c sour cream
- 1/4 c half-and-half
- 3 TBS dark rum
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp molasses
- 1 lime, zested and segmented (save zest)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/4 c sugar
- 2 tsp lime zest
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks (Hint: the cake requires yolk and the icing requires egg whites, so please do count your eggs before you “hatch” them…)
- a high-temperature candy thermometer
- 5 egg whites
- 1 1/4 c extra-fine granulated sugar, divided into 1 c and 1/4 c
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3 TBS rum
- 3-4 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 bags frozen vegetables, preferably something like frozen peas, spinach, or corn
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pull leaves off main stem and into folded tin foil so it resembles a box. Poke holes on top of “box” and put into oven on a cookie sheet until mint is totally dried out, about 12 minutes. Once totally dried, crumble the mint into a small bowl, removing the small veiny stems as much as possible. Whisk together the dry ingredients (no need to overwhisk–just combine) and set aside. Mix together liquid ingredients until just combined, set aside.
2. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and lime zest on the lowest setting for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time while still on the lowest speed, fully incorporating after each addition. Then add the yolks one at a time, making sure to let the first full incorporate before adding the second.
3. Read this step in its entirety, then proceed: add the dry and wet mixtures to the creamed mixture in 3-5 alternating installments total, BEGINNING AND ENDING WITH THE DRY MIXTURE. This should take about 60 seconds, total–no need to wait for incorporation in this step. Don’t dawdle. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl to get all that pesky batter off that sides that bowl and then restart mixer to medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds. Resist the urge to overbeat–20 seconds is all you need.
4. Lightly grease two 9-inch-round cake pans–I also like to line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Split the batter between the pans and even out the top with a spatula.
5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the center is set. A few notes– this cake is dense–do not rotate until there is some stability in the cake. Also, the sides will burn fairly quickly, so add any additional time in two minute increments and keep a close eye.
6. Remove the cakes from the oven let cool to room temperature on a wire rack–seriously, let the cake cool ENTIRELY or it will break everywhere. Not cute.
1. Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and set aside.
2. With the wire whisk attachment on a standing mixer, whip the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup sugar, then continue whipping until stiff peaks form. If you do not know the difference between soft and stiff peaks–google, practice, and revisit this recipe at a later date.
3. Measure 1 cup sugar and the water into a 1-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Gently stir with the candy thermometer to combine. With the thermometer in the pan and a lid partially covering the pot, heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches 245 degrees. Put your frozen vegetables at the base of your mixer bowl, touching as much of the bowl as possible.
4. THIS IS WHERE IT GETS TRICKY–better to picture yourself a nuclear physicist and proceed with extreme caution from here on out. Once the syrup has reached 245 degrees, turn the mixer back onto high and s-l-o-w-l-y pour the syrup into the meringue.After 1 or 2 minutes reduce the mixer speed to medium for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the meringue is cooled–if the meringue is not cooled after this time, just keep mixing until it is at room temp. (This is why the frozen veggies are helpful–if the egg whites stay hot too long the proteins don’t manage the fat of the butter in the same way and the whole thing falls apart.)
5. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoon is incorporated before adding another. Sometime around stick 2, it will look like the icing will never come together–have heart, as things start to look up around stick three. I like to stop at 3.5 sticks, but once the frosting comes together take a taste and see what you think.
6. When you have a recognizable, spreadable icing, add the rum and increase the mixer speed to high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter is fully incorporated.
7. Spread as you like on your cooled cake. Garnish with lime zest. Refrigerate until 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!