For those of you who aren’t interested in a fruitcake this year, may we suggest our decadent chocolate peppermint cake instead? This cake is created with so many thoughtful components: Moist layers of chocolate cake are stacked between a peppermint frosting with a rich chocolate glaze on top and finished with crushed peppermint candy. The best Christmas cakes make the holiday feel more memorable, and this chocolate peppermint cake does just that.
Ingredients for Chocolate Peppermint Cake
- Sugar: Sugar sweetens and moistens the cakes.
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour gives the cake its structure and stability.
- Cocoa: Need help picking out a brand to use? Our Test Kitchen professionals found the best cocoa powder brands for recipes based on their color, flavor and price.
- Boiling water: Boiling water blooms the cocoa powder for an even more pronounced and richer chocolate taste in every bite.
- Milk: Milk moistens and adds flavor to the cake.
- Eggs: Eggs bind the cake ingredients together for a better structure.
- Heavy whipping cream: Heavy whipping cream creates the fluffy base of the cake’s filling.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Confectioners’ sugar adds sweetness to the filling and glaze.
- Red food coloring: Red food coloring is used in the filling to create a festive peppermint candy look.
- Peppermint candy: Crushed peppermint candy adds peppermint flavor and a beautiful holiday appearance to the filling.
Step 1: Prepare the cake batter
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round baking pans. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat in the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla at medium speed for two minutes. Carefully stir in the boiling water (the batter will be thin).
Editor’s Tip: Learn how to grease a cake pan properly so your cakes don’t break when leaving the pans.
Step 2: Bake the cakes
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, 18 to 23 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans and onto wire racks to cool completely to room temperature.
Editor’s Tip: Cutting the dome off the cakes will make your finished layered cake stand stronger, so dip into your cake decorating supplies and pull out a cake leveler or serrated knife.
Step 3: Create the frosting
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, vanilla and food coloring and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside about one tablespoon of crushed candy. Fold the remaining candy into the whipped mixture. Using an offset spatula, spread the filling between the layers and around sides of the cakes, but not over the top.
Editor’s Tip: If you’re new to cake decorating, take a few of our best cake frosting tips for this step.
Step 4: Make the glaze
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the cocoa and water and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add additional water if necessary to achieve a glaze consistency. Spread the glaze over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the reserved candy. Chill in the refrigerator before serving. Store leftover cake in the refrigerator.
Chocolate Peppermint Cake Variations
- Make it extra chocolate-y: If you want more chocolate in this cake, swap this recipe’s filling for our chocolate buttercream frosting, but still use the 2/3 cup crushed peppermint candy.
- Add more decorations: After sprinkling the reserved peppermint candy on top of the glaze, add a few shakes of festive Christmas sprinkles for more holiday cheer. Or, make a few candy cane reindeer and stick them in the cake.
How to Store Chocolate Peppermint Cake
To store, cover the cake and place it in the fridge for up to four days. You can make the unfrosted cakes ahead of time by allowing them to cool to room temperature, covering them in storage wrap and freezing for up to three months.
We do not recommend freezing the finished cake, though. If you know how to freeze cake, you’ll know that frosting that’s made with heavy whipping cream does not freeze well.
Chocolate Peppermint Cake Tips
What is a peppermint candy made of?
Peppermint candy is made of sugar, corn syrup, peppermint oil, food coloring and preservatives.
What is the best way to crush peppermint candy?
The best way to crush peppermint candy is to add the peppermint candy to a resealable bag and close the bag completely. Place the bag of peppermint candy onto a kitchen towel and, with a meat mallet or hammer, hit the peppermint candy until they’re broken into small pieces.