The Chocolate Mint Monstrosity (or: Toothpaste: The Cake)

Five or six years ago, I was in full-swing cupcake baking (specifically decorating) mode. For some reason, I thought it’d be easy to make the transition from cupcakes made from box mix to a cake made entirely from scratch and formed into a roll: more accurately, something very similar to this chocolate peppermint roll. (I could have sworn the original was from Martha Stewart, but I can’t find it now.)

This recipe was just a little out of my league. Completely. I was making it for a Christmas event and fortunately had some trusty box brownie mix on hand. After this recipe crashed and burned, I was able to whip them up and save the day. I have not since tried to make a minty dessert, but it’s probably for the best. I wasn’t aware that people were so polarized about mint, so all my efforts may have been for naught anyway.

Surprisingly, baking a cake that could roll up went well, which made me feel better because that was the part I was nervous about. After baking it, I tested its rolling ability and it turned out okay. I then moved to the frosting, and that’s when things got weird.

I had purchased mint candies. I chopped them up and incorporated them into the frosting, following instructions. However, when I  tasted it, it fell short. It didn’t taste minty at all, and tasted like pure buttercream frosting. Though in retrospect this would have been fine–just affix some peppermint candies to the top and call it a day–I was hell bent on making a cake that was the essence of a minty Christmas roll cake. So…I added mint extract.

I knew this was a mistake as soon as I tasted it. Mint extract made it taste like toothpaste, and the white frosting didn’t help with this. It was creamy with flecks of red peppermint in it, which bore a striking resemblance to the Colgate that I had in my bathroom AT THAT MOMENT. I rolled the cake up, chopped the ends off as instructed, and then cut a tiny sliver for myself and my mom to try.

It was the worst thing I had ever baked, and that remains true to this day. I’m not sure what made it worse: its taste or its aesthetic.

So if you’re looking for a pepperminty delicacy for this Christmas, I don’t recommend incorporating it into white frosting.

And that’s the story of how I almost bungled a Christmas dessert and settled for a safe favorite instead. Maybe you’ll have better luck with it… or maybe not. May I suggest checking out the rest of my dessert recipes? You may find a time-tested recipe you love!

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