Every year as we inch closer to Christmas my mind races with all of my favorite holiday desserts. My mother would make everything from peanut brittle to cakes and pies. And, as the kitchen counter filled with baked goods, she would begin making frozen treats to fill the freezer. One of my favorite holiday desserts came from her frozen stash, a layered peppermint cake slathered in whipped cream and covered in crushed peppermint candies. Not only did the cake satisfy my sweet tooth, but since the cake was hidden in the depths of the freezer I could easily sneak a slice without anyone noticing.
This year my Christmastime dessert cravings are even stronger as we will be returning to my parents rural farm in Michigan. My mother started planning the menu a couple months ago and assures me the counter and freezer are both nearing capacity. She asked if I would like the peppermint cake but I instead asked her for the recipe so I could experience making it myself.
The frozen peppermint dessert is much easier than I expected. It's more of an assembly job than actual baking, so perfect for all skill levels. Although the cake uses a prepared angel food cake, I have a small freezer so opted to use individual-sized angel food cakes. The result is individual snowball-looking cakes that no one will want to share!
6 individual angel food cakes (or one 8" angel food cake)
3/4 cup hard peppermint candies (or candy canes)
1/4 cup water
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Blend 1/2 cup peppermint candies in a blender until crushed to small bits and place into a bowl for later use. Blend remaining 1/4 cup peppermint candies in a blender until powdered, then add 1/4 cup water and stir to create a syrup.
With a mixer, beat the cream, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.
You will now use the prepared angel food cakes, crushed candies, minty syrup, whipped cream, and ice cream to create the layered dessert.
If using individual-sized angel food cakes:
1. Slice cakes in half and drizzle the cut sides with 1/2 tablespoon of syrup.
2. Spread 1/4 cup whipped cream on bottom layer.
3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon crushed candies on top of whipped cream.
4. Reassemble the cake by placing the top layer on top of the bottom layer.
5. Place a small scoop of ice cream in the center hole of the cake.
6. Frost the entire cake with whipped cream and sprinkle with remaining crushed candies.
7. Freeze for 1-2 hours or until firmly set.
1. Slice the cake horizontally to create 3 layers.
2. On bottom layer, drizzle with 2 tablespoons syrup.
3. Spread 1/2 cup whipped cream.
4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon crushed candies on top of whipped cream.
5. Place second layer on top of bottom layer and repeat steps #2-4.
6. On top layer, drizzle cut side with remaining syrup then place right side up on top of the cake.
7. Place about 3 scoops of ice cream into center hole of the cake.
8. Frost the entire cake with remaining whipped cream and sprinkle with remaining crushed candies.
9. Freeze for 2 hours or until firmly set.
I should note that peppermint candies are hard to come by here in Vancouver, so I substituted candy canes. And, the only candy canes I could find were a mix of green and red which means the mint syrup took on a magenta tone. Not necessarily festive but delicious nonetheless.
After making the cake, I'm now thinking through other possible flavor combinations using the same approach. My great-grandmother used to have a candy dish filled with anise hard candies which I bet would taste amazing. And, I think the dessert would also work well as a refreshing summer treat so I'm making a mental note to try it next year.
The dessert brought back memories of long winters and cheerful holiday gatherings. I had forgotten how the whipped cream takes on an ice-cream texture when frozen and how tender the angel food cake remains. The combination of creamy, crunchy, and minty provided a nostalgic introduction to the Christmas season. May all of you have the happiest of holidays!
Eating Out Loud
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(Images: Allen of Eating Out Loud)