Layers of fudgy chocolate cake and sweet peppermint frosting make this chocolate candy cane cake perfect for Christmas! It looks beautiful on any table and is the perfect recipe for anyone with a serious sweet tooth.
The BEST Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
If you love the combination of chocolate and peppermint – then this is the cake for you. The layers of chocolate cake are extremely moist and fudgy with a rich chocolate taste. Then the peppermint frosting is sweet, creamy and deliciously fluffy with a tangy peppermint flavor. I decorated the cake with crushed candy canes to give it the perfect holiday appearance. Because festive decorations go a long way.
Baking Tips & Tricks
- Cake layers freeze extremely well. You can make the cake layers and cool fully. Then remove each layer from the pan, wrap tightly in plastic, and then wrap in foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Then thaw in the fridge. Then make the frosting and assemble the cake the day that you plan to serve it. This is perfect for holiday prep!
- The cake can be made entirely by hand using a wire whisk. Make sure to use a very large bowl – there’s a lot of batter!
- Cake layers must be fully cooled before frosting. For easier frosting, pop the layers in the fridge so that they’re a little firmer.
- If your cakes have rounded tops, use a serrated knife to gently saw off the rounded top of each cake layer. This allows the cakes to sit flat on top of each other and makes the cake more stable.
- The amount of peppermint extract in the frosting is a little bit up to you, depending on how minty you like your frosting. Add in a little at a time as you go until you get the perfect flavor.
- This cake requires a crumb coat. A crumb coat is essentially a base coat of frosting that helps to seal in any cake crumbs. You’ll frost the cake with a very thin layer of frosting. If there’s crumbs in frosting, it’s ok! You’ll be able to see the dark brown cake through the pink frosting. Then pop the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes for the frosting to firm up and seal. Then go over the cake again with swirls of creamy, peppermint frosting. Doing a crumb coat first ensures that you don’t get crumbs of dark chocolate cake in your pretty pink frosting. You can see what I mean by a crumb coat below:
This chocolate peppermint cake is the perfect holiday dessert for anyone with a serious sweet tooth. It’s rich, fudgy and has the most delicious candy cane frosting. I recommend a cold glass of milk to go with this rich, decadent Christmas cake!
And if you love candy canes, then be sure to try:
Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
- Two 8-inch round cake pans (with high sides)*
- 2 cups all-purpose flour AKA plain flour
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil or canola oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk* room temperature
- ¾ cup hot coffee freshly brewed, or boiling water
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened to room temperature, but still slightly firm to the touch
- 5-6 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract to taste
- a few drops red food coloring
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3-5 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1-2 crushed candy canes
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
- Line the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides and dust with cocoa powder. If using 8-inch round pans, make sure that the sides are at least 2 inches (about 5 cm) high. See recipe notes for pan options.
- In a very large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract.
- Carefully whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth and no lumps remain.
- Carefully whisk in the hot coffee until the mixture is smooth and an even consistency. It will be thin.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes on the same rack, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and you see the cake starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Baking times vary, so go by your toothpick test and not just the stated time.
- Place cakes on a wire rack to cool. Keep cakes in the pans until fully cooled
- Beat the butter until fluffy and smooth.
- Sift in 3 cups of powdered sugar. Start with the mixer on a low speed and gradually increase the speed as powdered sugar begins to incorporate.
- Add in the peppermint extract, salt and a few drops of red food coloring.
- Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, alternating with 1 tablespoon cream until the desired sweetness is reached. Add in a little more peppermint extract and/or red food coloring as needed.
Assembling the Cake
- Ensure the cakes are completely cooled. If the top of each cake is rounded, Using a serrated knife, gently saw off the domed top.
- Place one cake layer with the bottom side up on a plate or cake stand (whatever you plan to serve the cake on). Optionally, place a few pieces of parchment paper around the edges of the plate and slightly under the cake to keep the plate clean.
- Frost the top with a little less than ⅓ of the frosting. Place the second cake layer on top, bottom side up.
- Frost the sides and top of the cake with a thin, smooth layer of frosting. This is the crumb coat. If crumbs get into the frosting, don't worry. You'll do a second layer after. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the frosting to firm up and seal.
- Frost the sides and top of the cake with swirls of frosting. It will be thick enough to cover any crumbs that you can see in the first coat.
- Decorate the cake with crushed candy canes.
- Pan Sizes:
- two 9-inch (23-cm) round pans, bake for 25-30 minutes
- three 8-inch (20 cm) round pans, bake for about 25 minutes
- one 9x13 inch (23x33 cm) rectangle pan, bake for about 40 minutes - divide frosting recipe in half
- Buttermilk: If you don't have buttermilk, add 2 teaspoons vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice to 1 cup of 1% or 2% milk. Whisk together, then let stand for 5 minutes before using.
- Storage: Store cake covered at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Fully cooled cake layers can be wrapped in plastic, then wrapped in foil or placed in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge. Then frost & decorate.
- Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 slice with frosting, assuming the cake is cut into 12 equal pieces.