Chocolate Candy Cane Cake

If you’re looking for the ultimate showstopper dessert idea this holiday season, look no further. This chocolate candy cane cake is it!

I made the cake just a few days before we left for vacation last week, and it pained me to have to give nearly the whole thing away, but it was probably for the best. There’s no telling how much damage Shane and I could have done if this had been in our house for longer than a day. And I found it a good home so that made it a little easier to part with :)

Chocolate Candy Cane Cake

Let me give you a rundown of what you’re looking at here. The cake itself is a devil’s food cake. Unsweetened chocolate, Dutch-processed cocoa powder and instant espresso powder combine to ensure there’s no chance this cake is lacking in chocolate flavor. There are two different frostings incorporated in the cake – peppermint buttercream in between the layers and white chocolate buttercream on the outside – but they both start with the same base recipe so it’s not as much work as it might sound like. The cake is garnished with finely ground peppermint candy, which not only gives it more peppermint flavor, but also a festive shimmer!

Chocolate Candy Cane Cake

The chocolate and peppermint flavor combination has always been one of my favorites for the holidays, and it is truly fantastic here. The cake really does taste just as good as it looks! And on that note, I was particularly happy with the way this cake looked when I finished frosting it. I often find it tricky to frost chocolate cakes with white frosting without ending up with dark crumbs marring the appearance. In an effort to avoid that, I did a very thin crumb coat here before applying a second layer of frosting and it worked beautifully.

Last holiday season I fell in love with a white chocolate peppermint bark cheesecake, and this year the chocolate candy cake cake has stolen my heart :) You really can’t go wrong with either if you’re looking for a stunning dessert to complete your holiday party or celebration!

Chocolate Candy Cane Cake

Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
from Cook’s Country, December/January 2008

Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/4 cups boiling water
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons heavy cream
8 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled completely
1 3/4 cups finely ground peppermint candy, divided

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray with flour then line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper. Spray the parchment with the cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso powder to a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over them, and whisk until the mixture is smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until the batter is uniform. With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, and the chocolate mixture in two, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating just until everything is incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached. (I started with 2 of the pans on the rack in the lower third of the oven and one on the rack in the top third and rotated halfway through.)

Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes. Then run a thin knife around the edges of the pans and turn the cakes out onto the wire racks. Remove the parchment paper and invert the cakes so they’re right side up. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: In the the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and salt until incorporated and smooth. Add the vanilla and heavy cream and beat on medium until incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer half of the frosting to a second bowl and to it add the white chocolate. Stir to incorporate. To the other half of the frosting, add 3/4 cup of the ground peppermint candy and stir to distribute evenly.

To assemble the cake: Place one layer of the cake on your serving platter (you can slide pieces of parchment under the edges to keep the platter clean while you frost). Top with half of the peppermint frosting and spread in an even layer. Repeat with a second cake layer and the remaining peppermint frosting. Place the final cake layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the white chocolate frosting (reserve about 3/4 cup of the white chocolate frosting to garnish the cake). I did a very thin crumb coat first then chilled the cake before applying the top coat of frosting. Sprinkle the remaining ground peppermint candy over the tops and sides of the cake. (There’s not an easy way to apply it to the sides – I pretty much just threw it at the cake. Messy but effective!) Transfer the reserved white chocolate frosting to a piping bag and pipe dots around the base of the cake. Pipe decorative swirls around the top outside edge of the cake then place a whole peppermint candy in each swirl to garnish.