Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake
This decadent cake is a take on the holiday favorite peppermint bark. It’s complete with rich, dense, not overly sweet chocolate cake layers filled with a white chocolate peppermint cream cheese buttercream. Whether you garnish with sugared cranberries or your own peppermint bark, this is an elegant and crowd favorite choice.
Dense and decadent chocolate layers meets a light, creamy peppermint frosting. This is the perfect holiday cake for chocolate and peppermint lovers. This cake is easy to garnish as well! So many directions to take this cake. Here are some additional ideas:
– Frost semi-naked for a more rustic look
– Pipe with buttercream swirls and top with peppermint bark (I love the Ghirardelli squares or my favorite homemade recipe here).
– I chose to use some garland from an inexpensive bouquet from Walmart and made easy homemade sugared cranberries (see directions here).
– Gently press crushed peppermint half way up the side and/or sprinkle some on top.
You can also choose to fill the cake with crushed peppermint. My family doesn’t always lean towards mixing crunchy textures with smooth textures so I chose to keep it simple, but it would be a fun and delicious way to mix it up!
This cake stays moist for days, so feel free to spread out the assembly process by making the cake a day or so in advance. The layers also freeze well. Wrap well in plastic wrap followed with aluminum foil and it will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour spooned and leveled, NOT packed
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa, dutch processed
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream, or greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 oz high quality dark chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk*
- 1 cup hot water, or brewed coffee for even more enhanced flavor
Frosting (complete for fully decorated cake; half recipe for a naked/semi-naked cake)
- 12 oz white chocolate chips, high quality like Guittard or Ghirardelli is best
- 1/4 cup heavy cream,
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp peppermint extract, or to taste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6-7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and powdered buttermilk if you're using the powdered form.
- Melt the unsweetened baking chocolate in 20-30 second bursts in the microwave. It's done heating up when the chocolate is almost completely melted, but not all the way. Stir together until all of it is melted and smooth. Set aside.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients (sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, hot water, and melted chocolate) in a separate bowl. Then combine with the dry ingredients.
- Mix together well until combined. Just don't over mix as that can lead to a crumbly cake.
- Pour into 3 - 8" greased cake pans, 2 - 9" pans, or 24 cupcake liners. Bake for 22-26 minutes. The cake is done when the toothpick comes out with moist crumbs on it. Transfer to cooling racks when done.
- Heat up the heavy cream in the microwave, then pour it over the white chocolate chips. Cover and let it sit for a minute. Then stir until chocolate mixture is melted and smooth. Set aside.
- Beat together the the butter and cream cheese for 2 minutes to get well incorporated and light.
- Add the vanilla, peppermint extract, and sifted powdered sugar. Mix well until thoroughly combined. Then add the melted chocolate with the mixer running. Beat the frosting for about 3-4 minutes to get light and fluffy.
- Trim cake layers if needed to help achieve nice even layers.
- Spread a small amount of frosting on a cake board (this will act like a glue for your first cake layer). Then place your first cake layer down.
- Add an even layer of frosting, top with a cake, layer, add the layer of frosting, then add your last cake layer.
- Apply an even, thin layer of frosting around the entire cake. Leave as is if frosting a semi-naked cake. Otherwise, place the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes to create your "crumb coat".
- Spread remaining frosting around the cake and garnish and pipe as desired.**