January 05, 2016


Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she's dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.


I waited till the last minute to prepare (as I usually do) and stayed up late making cinnamon rolls and wrapping presents. I set my alarm early to stuff the stockings and we left that evening for a long, through-the-night drive to Pennsylvania. Basically, I'm counting on New Year's to be restful!

We don't have many traditions for holidays but I like to have a Christmas cake for Jesus. Me and the kids talk about it all month...what we'll make and why we'll sing "Happy Birthday" to the baby that would change the world. It may seem silly, but I think having something tangible for the kids to visualize why we've set this day aside is extremely important and sparks excellent conversation. We've done something different every Christmas, but this year I found this chocolate peppermint cake with salted buttercream and I knew it sounded just perfect. We made it early, shared it with friends, and oh my lands! Simply perfection.

As you cut into it you think it'll be dry because the sides are the slightest bit crisp and crumbly, but the inside is moistly divine. The icing lends just a hint of salty and as an expert on the salty/sweet combo, this is up there in things you should try before you die. I turned my oven down low - a trick I learned from my mom - and let the cake bake a little longer on 325.

I'm telling you, you can't un-eat this cake. SO good. 

  By Eva Kosmas Flores of Adventures in Cooking 

Chocolate Peppermint Cake 

• 2 cups sugar 
• 2 cups flour 
• 2/3 cup dutch process cocoa 
• 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
 • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
• 6 ounces dark chocolate 
• 2/3 cup vegetable oil 
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
• 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract 
• 4 eggs, at room temperature 
• 1/2 cup water 
• 1/4 cup whole milk 

 Salted Peppermint Buttercream 

• 1 cup butter, softened 
• 3 cups powdered sugar 
• 3 tablespoons heavy cream 
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
• 1 teaspoon salt 
• 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract 

 • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour 3 (8-inch) cake pans and set aside. 
 • In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well-blended. Set aside. 
 • In the top of a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in the oil, vanilla, and peppermint. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating between adding the flour mixture and the water. Add the milk and stir until a batter has formed. 
 • Evenly distribute the batter between the three cake pans and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one of the pans comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pan and allowing the layers to cool on a wire rack. 

 • While the cake is baking and cooling, you can prepare the buttercream. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together all ingredients until a smooth, whipped buttercream forms. • Once the cakes have cooled, lightly frost each layer and then the entire cake. 

Serve immediately.