One of my favorite ice cream flavors is mint chocolate chip. Wouldn’t this flavor combination also make a great cake?
As it turns out it does, and it was invented by Gino Allega in 1962 for his restaurant, La Locanda di Gino, in Abruzzo, Italy. The restaurant is now run by his son’s and their wives, but the cake remains the most popular on their dessert menu.
I learned about this cake from two sources. First, from Italy Magazine, which I dog-eared immediately to make in the future. And second from a cookbook, Preserving Italy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt press, 2016). I thought it sounded familiar. As it turns out, Domenica Marchetti, author of the cookbook, had shared the recipe with the magazine. She, in turn, was given the recipe directly from the chefs at the restaurant.
There are several things that I love about this cake. It is super moist from the ricotta and the mint simple syrup; it feeds a crowd; and, mint chocolate chip in the form of cake is unexpected and refreshing, especially in warmer weather.
Tip: If you make the mint syrup one day ahead, this cake comes together in a snap. In my last blog post, (Not a) Caprese Salad 2.0 with Zucchini and Mint, many of you shared that you have an abundance of mint growing in your yard or gardens. Here’s your chance to use it in another delicious way.
Gino’s Mint Chocolate Chip Cake
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the baking pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the baking pan
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 9 ounces (250 g) well-drained fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (70 g) bittersweet mini chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup (177 ml) mint syrup, divided (see recipe)
- 1 cup (240 ml) water 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 g) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 4 strips of lemon zest (no white pith) 2 lightly packed cups fresh mint leaves
- Drain the ricotta (preferably overnight, but at least 8 hours in the refrigerator)
- Make the mint syrup (see below)
- Heat the oven to 375° F (190° C)
- Butter and flour a 9- by 13-inch (23- by 33- cm) baking pan
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir well
- In a stand mixer or handheld beater, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy
- Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Add vanilla
- Beat in the flour mixture on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat in the ricotta and chocolate chips.
- With the mixer running on low speed, gradually pour in 1/2 cup (118 ml) of the mint syrup and mix until fully incorporated.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake 30 minutes, until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean
- Remove from the oven and set the pan on a cooling rack. While the cake is still hot, use a pastry brush to brush the top with the remaining 1/4 cup (59 ml) of mint syrup. Let the cake cool to room temperature. To serve, cut into squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar or a dollop of sour cream, whipped cream or yogurt
- Save leftover mint syrup in the refrigerator for teas, cocktails, etc.
Mint syrup directions
- Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and add in the lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat
- When the syrup is almost at a boil, coarsely chop the mint leaves. As soon as the syrup starts the boil, turn off the heat and stir in the mint leaves. Cover the pan and let the syrup steep for 3 hours
- Pour the mint syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean jar. Store leftovers in the refrigerator