Deep and rich, this Peppermint Chocolate Cake gets a cool, refreshing burst from both peppermint extract and schnapps. Topped with peppermint ganache and crushed candy canes, it’s a breathtaking holiday dessert.
Much to my kids’ dismay, I rarely frequent the candy aisle at the grocery store. I bake too much cake and pie to want to mess around with candy most of the time, but I needed some candy canes to crush as topping for this Chocolate Peppermint Cake the other day.
As I marched into the sugary confection section, I learned something completely astonishing: broken candy canes are totally a thing you can buy. I have to hand it to those candy makers.
Imagine the sheer mass of candy cane wreckage piling up in their factories. I wonder who first thought, “Let’s market the broken stuff to all those people crushing up candy canes for their peppermint bark and other holiday treats”? Good on him or her.
Here’s the thing, though. I couldn’t bring myself to buy them. I don’t often get to smash things, and I wanted to smash my own candy canes, dammit. It’s so satisfying, especially if you remember to do it in a plastic bag so the candy shards don’t go flying all over the kitchen.
I came home with two packages of candy canes. My kids had asked if we could hang some on the tree, which really means they hope to snack on this Christmas tree fruit when I’m not looking. Good on them. Sometimes I can be nice.
This rich, chocolate cake is plenty pepperminty on its own, but the crushed candy makes it feel Christmasy and festive ( and don’t forget the permission it gives us to smash stuff). Peppermint schnapps and peppermint extract infuse the deep chocolate cake with cool, minty flavor.
Top it all off with peppermint ganache and candy cane crumbs, and you’ve got the perfect holiday dessert. It’s rich and flavorful and refreshing all at the same time.
And did I mention that you get to smash candy? Sorry professional candy smashers. While I admire your gumption, I just can’t support you.
Peppermint Chocolate Cake
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cups boiling water
- 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup peppermint schnapps
- 1 cup sour cream
- 9 tablespoons butter, softened but still cool
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- Peppermint Ganache & Topping
- 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- 3 large or 10 small candy canes, crushed (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. Set aside.
- Place unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Carefully pour in boiling water and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.
- Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Pour peppermint schnapps into a 2-cup glass measure with a pour spout. Spoon in sour cream until the schnapps and sour cream reach the 1 1/2 cup line. Mix well and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until well blended. Add the peppermint extract and melted chocolate. Stir to mix.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream-peppermint mixture to the egg-butter-chocolate mixture in several additions. Stir until well combined. Gently mix in chocolate chips.
- Scrape the batter into prepared bundt pan, smoothing the top to even out the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
- Remove from the oven and cool the cake for 30 minutes in the pan. Carefully turn the cake out onto a rack and cool completely.
- For the glaze, place dark chocolate in a 2-cup measuring glass with a pour spout. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour cream over the chocolate and let it sit without stirring for two minutes before mixing vigorously with a small spatula. Once the chocolate becomes smooth and glossy, add peppermint extract and mix until smooth.
- Set the rack holding the cooled cake atop a baking sheet. Stir the ganache well before slowly drizzling the glaze over the cake. Allow the glaze to set. Right before serving, sprinkle with crushed candy canes if desired.
Chelsea Pearl says
This cake looks amazing!
This is beautiful! Pinning now!
Annie @ Annie's Noms says
I love this! It’s so pretty and the mint/choc combination never gets old to me!
Thanks, Annie. I love mint and chocolate together, too!
Wow, I also did not know that crushed candy canes is a thing you can buy! I love how it looks on top of your cake!
Crazy, huh? I actually crushed my own, though. Gotta smash things when I can!
Anna (Hidden Ponies) says
Haha, I feel the same way about pre-done pomegranate arils…let me whack those babies out myself 🙂 This cake is gorgeous!
Thanks, Anna! Totally with you. Cheaper than therapy, right?
Anne|Craving Something Healthy says
Oh my deliciousness! This looks amazing – pinned and can’t wait to try it for Christmas!
Thank you, Anne! Happy holidays!
How do you think this would do with just a white powdered sugar/milk glaze? I want to use my igloo-shaped bundt pan and want a white top. Is it moist enough? Thanks!
Suzanne Cowden says
This cake is super moist! It would look so pretty with a white glaze, especially in an igloo shape! You’ll want a pretty thick glaze to ensure a white effect as the cake is very dark. Happy baking!
Tara Jeanne says
Hi Suzanne, May I please ask 2 questions about your recipe ?
First, thank you for sharing this great recipe ! I hope to use this recipe for a tall vertical birthday cake, but I first kindly ask for clarification on 2 things so that I can plan to succeed : )
Questions 1.) I have never seen sour cream added to a cake recipe. Might I please ask what the purpose of the sour cream is? What does it do ? Thank you
Question 2.) Some cakes are more dense and are better to be used in a bunt pan. Because I plan to stack this in layers, I am looking for a light and fluffy cake. Is this cake fluffy ? Or more on the dense side ?
Thanks! I truly appreciate your help !
Suzanne Cowden says
Great questions! Sour cream helps to make the cake rich and moist with out adding too much liquid to the batter. It also helps activate the baking soda so the cake will rise properly. This cake is definitely on the denser side. Good luck with your birthday cake project!
Tara Jeanne says
Thanks so much !
Lola Rusin says
I would like to use a chocolate cake mix, do you have a recipe version for that?
Suzanne Cowden says
I do not have a cake mix version for this recipe, but you could adapt the doctored box recipe for Kahlua Chocolate Cake. Since this recipe calls for less peppermint schnapps than the Kahlua needed for that one, you’ll want to top off the schnapps with water or milk to make sure you have enough liquid in your cake. Good luck! I’d love to hear how it turns out if you give it a try!