This chocolate and candy candy cane crunch layer cake is a delightful holiday treat. Chocolate peppermint cake layers are filled and frosted with a crunchy candy cane swiss meringue buttercream and then topped with seasonal Oreos and sprinkles.
I’m still not sure I’m ready to look at sugar again what with baking (and eating) three pies in as many days BUT I’ve been holding back this chocolate and candy cane crunch layer cake from you since last year and I JUST CAN’T ANYMORE.
The weirdness of being a food blogger is that you’re perpetually a year behind. I mean, maybe there are some people who are really organized and have their editorial calendars perfectly planned and recipes tested months in advance, but these people probably don’t have toddlers. Heck, I wasn’t even capable of this before I had a kid! I just can’t get inspired to bake with peppermint in June no matter high I blast the AC. Something about it just doesn’t feel right.
Point being that I made this cake for Christmas Eve last year and it has basically been lurking in an almost-forgotten folder on my computer ever since.
Which is such a shame because we LOVED this cake! It just felt wrong to share it after the holidays had already passed.
The original recipe comes from my friend Laura over at A Beautiful Plate. She is a complete genius when it comes to food and is one of a handful of people whose recipes I would trust to make for the first time when I’m cooking for other people. That, and the fact that the.boy’s family is pretty much guaranteed to love anything that combines peppermint and chocolate, so I knew this would be a hit.
This is a triple layer cake made with light chocolate peppermint layers that are filled and frosted with a candy cane swiss meringue buttercream. Yes, the candy canes are actually IN THE FROSTING. Their crunch adds a really nice texture, but be warned that if you make it more than a day in advance, they will start to soften from the moisture in the frosting. It’s not a bad thing, but if you really want that crunch factor then I would probably make it the day that you want to serve it.
I chose to decorate my cake with peppermint oreos and a surfeit of sprinkles, but Laura has a recipe for dark chocolate peppermint glaze on her site that would be so extra in the best way.
Aside from my rainbow cookies I rarely bake the same thing twice for the holidays, but I may have to make an exception for this.
Seeing the photos again after so much time has passed has got me in a mood.
Cue the carols. Let’s get baking!
- butter or nonstick cooking spray, for the pans
- 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
- 1 cup unsweetened non-alkalized cocoa powder
- 2 and ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp + ¼ tsp pure peppermint extract
- 1 and ½ cups whole milk, room temperature
- 1 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
- 6 standard peppermint candy canes, crushed
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp (150 ml) large egg whites
- 1 and ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp pure peppermint extract
- peppermint oreos
- sprinkles, as desired
- Heat the oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch cake pans with either butter and flour or nonstick baking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil and sugar for 2 minutes on medium speed. Add in the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and peppermint extract. Beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the mixer speed down to low. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three batches, alternating with the milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to low speed and slowly pour in the hot coffee. Once it is all added, mix on medium-low until just combined, no more than 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
- Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans. Place in the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the cake pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Place the candy canes in a large freezer sized ziploc bag and squeeze out any excess air. Use a rolling pin to beat and crush the candy canes into tiny pieces. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk for a few seconds to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a low simmer. Place the stand mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create double broiler. Whisk and heat the eggs until they reach 160F.
- Return the stand mixer bowl to the stand mixer and beat, using the whisk attachment, on high speed for 8-10 minutes, or until it reaches stiff peaks and is at room temperature. Turn the speed down to low and then add the chunks of butter about a tablespoon at a time. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, turn the mixer to medium high and beat until the buttercream is smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and peppermint extracts and beat for another 30 seconds. Fold in the crushed candy canes with a spatula.
- Once the cakes are completely cool, transfer the bottom layer of cake to a serving plate. Top with ¾ of frosting and spread on the top of the cake with an offset spatula. Top with the second cake layer and repeat, ending with the third layer. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining buttercream.
- Decorate with oreos and sprinkles as desired.