There seem to be two camps in baking: decorating and pastry. That is, those who focus more on the decorating aspect of baking and others whose interests lie on the pastry and dessert side of the craft. I love both, and I’m thoroughly obsessed with every aspect of baking from pastry, desserts, candy, decorating and everything in between.
Having said that, nothing in this world beats creating a cake for your child that causes a reaction so pure and full of such love and gratitude that it brings tears to your eyes. I have made a specially decorated birthday cake for each of my children’s birthdays, starting with making my own baby shower cake before they were even born!
My son’s favorite cake thus far was this Angry Birds cake that was entirely edible and interactive. His friends took turns using the slingshot to attempt to knock the pigs down and the rule was they got to eat whatever they knocked down. The line was quite long for that game!My daughter on the other hand, loved all things Strawberry Shortcake when she was little, and I was more than happy to oblige her request for a Strawberry Shortcake themed cake since it was one of my childhood favorites growing up as well. This was what I came up with and to this day I can feel her arms squeezing me tightly in glee the morning of her birthday when she saw this cake. It meant a sleepless night for me, but that was a price I would happily pay again and again if it means bringing her such joy.While you do not have to decorate elaborate cakes for every bake, adding a delicate edible accent to your dessert can elevate it from ordinary to extraordinary. This is why I love this simple decorating technique which yields stunning chocolate mint leaves that add a perfect finishing touch to any dessert.
½ cup (113 grams/4 ounces) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup (113 grams/4 ounces) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 bunch fresh mint
How to use them:
Wash the mint by gently rinsing with cold water and dry by blotting with a paper towel, being careful not to bruise the leaves. Melt the chocolate by placing it in a medium heat safe bowl over a bain-marie, a pot of shallow, gently simmering water. Do not allow any of the simmering water to touch the bottom of the bowl. You may also melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50% power, stirring every 15 seconds until it is almost completely melted. After you remove it from the microwave, continue to stir to allow the residual heat to melt the chocolate completely. Be careful if using the microwave to melt the chocolate as it scorches easily.
Carefully snip the leaves from the stems of the mint and lay on parchment paper with the melted chocolate.Using a small spoon or food grade small paint brush, gently spread a thick layer of the melted chocolate on the underside of a mint leaf. I used miniature antique tea stirrer from a set that was a wedding present given to my mom and dad when they got married over 43 years ago. These little spoons are not only the perfect size for this task, but they make my heart happy every time I see them.
It’s important to use the underside of the leaf as the mint’s prominent vein pattern translates beautifully in the chocolate. Place on the parchment paper to set.Allow the leaves to set until the chocolate has hardened. How long that takes will depend entirely on the temperature in your kitchen. If your kitchen is cool, it should take about an hour, however if you live in Arizona and decide to make these in the middle of a heat wave when your air conditioner dies, then by all means, please put them in the fridge until they are set.When the chocolate has set, you can serve them as they are, with the mint leaf on one side and the chocolate on the other, or you can very gently lift the leaf at the edge or the stem, slowly pulling away the leaf from the chocolate. As you can see, the leaves now have this incredible detail imparted on the chocolate. Serve these by themselves, with tea or as a decorative element that will add such elegance and beauty to any dessert.