Chocolate Peppermint Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a festive and easy cake with the perfect combination of chocolate and peppermint. I started with my Devil’s Food cake recipe, a rich moist and intensely flavored chocolate cake, but switched it up to 3 layers using 8 inch pans. The creamy frosting is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The frosting is a basic Buttercream but is made even better by adding melted white chocolate and crushed peppermint candies.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Layer Cake
Serves: 10 to 12
  • ¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1¾ cups (about 70 whole candies) finely ground peppermint candies, divided
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 whole peppermint candies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8 inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the bottom and sides of the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust with flour.
Tip: Use cake strips around the pans to help ensure the cake rises evenly. Make a cake strip with a length of aluminum foil long enough to encircle the pan with a little overlap. Fold the strip lengthwise until it is 2 to 3 inches wide. Wrap the strip around the outside of the pan and secure it with a metal paper clip or tape.
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water. Stir until smooth, and then blend in the cold water. Add vanilla; stir until thoroughly blended and smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the granulated sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 5 minutes to add all of the sugar, then add the brown sugar, taking an additional 3 to 4 minutes, beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugars, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed. Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the cocoa mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and cocoa mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  6. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
  1. Peppermint candies can be finely ground using a food processor or a small food grinder, or place in a heavy duty plastic bag with a resealable top and crush the candies with a hard implement such as a rolling pin, wooden spoon, hammer, etc. Set aside.
  2. In top of a double boiler over hot water, melt white chocolate. Or, place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, use 50% power and stir frequently just until the chocolate is melted; do not overheat as chocolate will burn easily. Set aside to cool. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the hot water, the upper pan should not touch the water.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer beat the butter on medium high speed about 1 minute until it is smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt, beat at medium speed until thoroughly combined and smooth, about 1 minute. Add whipping cream and vanilla and beat at medium speed until well mixed, then increase the speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  4. Transfer one-half of the frosting to a medium size mixing bowl; stir in the melted and cooled white chocolate. Stir ¾ cup of the ground peppermint candies into the other one-half frosting.
  1. Place one of the layers on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula spread ½ of Chocolate Peppermint Cakethe peppermint candy frosting on top. Place the second layer on top and spread the remaining peppermint candy frosting over the top. Place the last cake layer on top.
  2. Reserve about ¾ cup of the white chocolate frosting for the garnish.
  3. Crumb coat the cake by covering the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of white chocolate frosting. Let the cake sit, or refrigerate, until the crumb coat is dried to the touch. At this point you can cover the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm the layers, about one hour or overnight. Tip: the crumb coat is a thin layer. Don’t worry if the cake shows through in places, it will be covered again with the final layer of frosting.
  4. When the crumb coat is set, cover the sides and top of the cake with the remaining white chocolate frosting.
  5. Gently press the remaining 1 cup of crushed peppermint candies around the sides of the cake. Optional: Leave the top of the cake plain, or sprinkle peppermint candies over the top.
  1. Re-whip reserved frosting, if necessary to make fluffy, and place reserved white chocolate frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a round decorating tip (I used a #12 tip.) Pipe a ring of dots around the base of the cake, and pipe 6 medium sized swirls onto top of cake; lean 1 whole peppermint candy against each swirl. Tip: if frosting to be used for piping seems too soft, beat in some extra confectioners’ sugar, about ¼ to ½ cup, or if seems to thick beat in about 1 tablespoon of whipping cream.
Adapted From: Cook's Country Chocolate Desserts, 2012
Recipe Notes
Pan: Three 8" Round Layers Pan Prep: Greased and Floured Oven Temp: 350° Storage: Covered, Cool Place or Refrigerate

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