Let it grow: mint-chocolate succulent cake

I’ve seen a ton of succulent cakes on the Internet lately, and I wanted to give it a whack myself. However, my policy on buttercream, which seems to be the thing that everyone is making them out of, is a huge no-no. If I am given that much butter, that much sugar, and that much egg white, I’m not making a cream out of them. I’d rather just make a cake and top it with something lighter like a mousse or Chantilly. So I had to think of what else I could make the succulents out of. I did think about fondant for a brief second, but then I remembered that fondant tastes like crap, so there’s no real point in doing that. And then I remembered a little trick my friend Bethany taught me: homemade modeling chocolate. She told me about how she had to make her own using chocolate, corn syrup, and a food processor. And since I was making a chocolate cake anyways, it just made such perfect sense to make the succulents out of those.

For the succulents, I made them using homemade white modeling chocolate, which I infused with mint extract for flavor, as well as spirulina and matcha powders to give them that natural green color. For the cake, it’s a mint infused chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, mint-white chocolate ganache, and a chocolate mirror glaze. For the ganache, mine set up just barely, and I’m not about that, so I’m actually going to change up the recipe so that you don’t have something that resembles bodily fluids leaking out of your chocolate cake. You’re welcome for the visual and the warning.

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For the ganache:
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1 tablespoon agar agar
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 2 teaspoons water
a pinch of salt

Melt down gelatin and agar into cream with butter. Combine with the chocolate and season with mint and salt. Pour into a 5 inch ring mold and freeze solid. Since white chocolate is such a weak bitch, it tends to melt quickly and hates setting up as a ganache. However, I adjusted the recipe to use more gelatin and agar agar, as well as using butter to add more structure and allow the white chocolate to set up as a firmer solid so that you’re not left with chocolate-cactus-bukkake cake. Yes, I said that.

For the cake:
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon black vinegar
1 egg white
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
1/3 cup warm water

Melt butter into chocolate chips and water. Season with salt and mint. Whip the egg white with sugar, baking soda, and black vinegar. Sift flour. Combine all of the ingredients together. Pour into a lined 5 inch cake ring and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cool completely before unmolding. Slice the cake into two layers, and crumble up the jankier one. Rebake those scraps at 350 degrees again for another 5 minutes to toast them for chocolate crumbs on top.

For the mousse:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon water
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Simmer gelatin with cocoa and milk. Temper in the egg yolk and dark chocolate chips. Season with salt. Bring down to room temperature. Whip cream to stiff peaks. Fold together into the chocolate and pour half into a lined 6 inch cake ring. Place in the ganache, and then pour the rest, and push in a round of cake. Freeze solid.

For the glaze:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 packets gelatin powder + 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup water
a pinch of salt

Simmer down the gelatin into the water. Add in the chocolate and season. Allow the chocolate to melt in the mixture before passing through a strainer to remove the bubbles. Reheat to 90 degrees F before pouring over the frozen cake to glaze.

For the succulents:
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon mint extract
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons spirulina powder
1/4 teaspoon matcha powder*

In a food processor, blend together the white chocolate, corn syrup, salt, spirulina, and mint extract. Take out about half of the mixture, and then blend the rest with the matcha so that you have two different colors of green to work with. While wearing gloves, just roll out the chocolate and cut out the shapes you want. To make the pointy succulent, I just cut up a ton of isosceles triangles and rolled them all up, while for the flowery ones, I cut out circles and rolled those up. Get creative. Just don’t spend too much time with it. The modeling chocolate does set after about 20 minutes, so don’t be too slow or else that’s going to suck for you.

For assembly:
Garnish the glazed cake with the chocolate soil and succulents. If desired, splash with a mixture of edible gold and vanilla extract to give the effect of dust or dirt on the cake.

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