I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday!  As the year draws to a close, I’m getting ready to recap my favorite posts from 2009, but first I just had to share this fun and festive cake.  I know it may seem like a Christmas cake, but it’s still winter and I’m sure it would be a welcome addition to any winter gathering or New Year’s party.  This fabulous concoction consists of three thick layers of rich, moist chocolate cake filled with peppermint frosting.  The whole thing is decorated with a white chocolate buttercream and then garnished with finely crushed peppermints for a sparkly pink finish.  It is certainly a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds!

And are you ready for this?  Me – Annie, the mint-hater – I actually liked this cake.  A lot.  Truthfully, I made it because I knew it would be so pretty and a hit at Christmas brunch, but I did not anticipate enjoying it so much myself.  The peppermint flavor in this cake is perfectly balanced by the other components so that it is definitely a key player, but not so overpowering that it is too strong for non-mint lovers.  Truly, the chocolate peppermint combo was wonderful and everyone was raving about it.

My only frustration with this cake was with the fact that it sliced horribly.  I think every piece I served looked as though Andrew had gotten a hold of it before I could pass it to each guest.  The reason was clear though – the peppermint dust on the outside of the cake hardened to form a sort of shell that was impossible to cut without partially destroying the delicate cake underneath.  Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this problem.  Garnish with the peppermint dust just before serving (as opposed to the night before as I did) so that it doesn’t have time to harden before you slice it.  And by the way, getting the peppermint evenly distributed around the outside was FUN!  I tried several techniques to get this to work but I found the best one to be simply taking a handful of the crushed candy and flinging it at the cake.  I felt a bit like Jackson Pollock :)  My counter was a mess, but I had fun and the cake looked great.   It’s a lovely winter treat!


For the cake:*
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting pans
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1¼ cups boiling water
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. espresso powder
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling, frosting and garnish:
8 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
1 lb. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1¾ finely ground peppermint candies, plus extra whole candies for garnish

*I made three 9-inch cake layers, and increased the amount of cake batter by 50%.  I made the regular amount of filling and frosting called for in the recipe, and it was just enough.


  • 01

    To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Grease the edges of three 8-inch round cake pans.  Dust with cocoa powder and tap out the excess.  Line the bottom of each pan with parchment or wax paper.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk the boiling water, chocolate, cocoa powder and espresso powder together until smooth.

  • 02

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions.  Beat in the sour cream and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix each addition just until incorporated.

  • 03

    Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans, and smooth the tops with a spatula.  Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 15-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and peel off the parchment paper.  Turn the cakes right side up and allow to cool completely.

  • 04

    To prepare the filling and frosting, melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler until smooth.  Set aside and let cool until no longer warm to the touch.  In the meantime, beat the butter on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer about 30 seconds.  Add confectioners’ sugar and salt, and beat at medium-low speed, scraping down the bowl once, about 1 minute.  Add the cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed just until incorporated, about 10 seconds.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Transfer half of the mixture to a separate bowl and stir in the cooled white chocolate until smooth.  Add ¾ cup of the ground peppermint candies to the remaining frosting.

  • 05

    To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cardboard cake round or cake platter.  Spread half of the peppermint frosting over the cake.  Top with another cake layer and spread evenly with the remaining peppermint frosting.  Top with the final cake layer.  Reserve ½ to ¾ cup of the white chocolate frosting in a pastry bag.  Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining white chocolate frosting.  Coat the top and sides of the cake with the remaining crushed peppermints.  Use the reserved white chocolate frosting to pipe a decorative border around the bottom edge of the cake, as well as decorative swirls on top.  Garnish with reserved whole peppermints as desired.


  • HoosierMamma

    Looks beautiful! Maybe I’ll try this with the left over peppermints I have from my chocolate covered pretzels. Would you recommend putting these in the food processor or like I did for the pretzels place them in a freezer bag and use a meat tenderizer to pulvarize them? Which was a great stress reliever but also kept them from being too fine. Which method would be best for the frosting and also for the dusting?

  • gorgeous, luscious, and completely scrumptious cake, annie. and that’s coming from a mint-lover. :)

  • Annie

    HoosierMamma, I definitely recommend the food processor for this. You want the mints ground very finely for both the filling and the coating (essentially, like dust) and personally I doubt I could get that result with the meat tenderizer.

  • Kelly

    What is the best tool for chopping the candies?

  • Annie

    Kelly, a food processor is definitely best in this case. You need them finely ground and it is a lot of candy.

  • oneordinaryday

    Sounds perfect to me.

  • jenniebites

    This looks so good Annie. And I agree, it’s never too late for peppermint!

  • Shanon

    Yay! You did it! It looks just like the recipe, Annie! Delicious!

  • This is the best looking cake I have seen all season, I mean that! If I would have seen this before Christmas, then this is what my family would be eating! Still isn’t too late to try it out though ;) I love peppermint and chocolate together.

  • Hilarious.. I can just picture you chucking the peppermint dust at the cake! LOL That made me laugh.

    The cake is beautiful. :)

  • This looks amazing…I’m slightly confused though. Did you use the recipe you listed to make 3 layers or you added another 50% to get the third? I would only want to make 2 layers…not quite ambitious enough to try 3.

  • Annie

    I listed the original recipe, which is enough batter to make 3 8-inch cake layers. It is a 3 layer cake either way. I’m not sure what scares you about a third layer, it’s no more difficult than a double layer cake.

  • Gloria Mangen

    Would it have helped with cutting to have dipped the knife in water? That would be easier for presentation than flinging the peppermint dust at the last minute before serving.

  • Annie

    Gloria, I actually did do that. I tried every strategy I know for getting clean slices that usually work but all failed. I think dusting at the last minute is the best option.

  • Your blog is addicting! I have it saved on my feeds, so I visit and go through the archives all the time. Who needs sleep when you can drool over photos of beautifully scrumptious looking food?! Haha. I am a hoarder or recipes and your blog is so well done that most of the recipes saved in my favorites, I’ve noticed, are from here. :)

  • This looks amazing! I’m definitely making this next year!!

  • Bailey

    Too funny! I made the same cake from the same recipie for Christmas dinner! (It was a big crowd so I doubled the recipie and made a 4 layer cake in 9″ pans.) I honestly think it is one of the best devils food cakes I’ve ever had. I read your blog regularly and always love your recipies so I’m congratulating myself on the fact that we made the same cake!

  • Great blog page and yummy looking recipes!!!

  • Stunning, simply stunning

  • Soo pretty!

  • What a gorgeous cake – definitely perfect for the holidays! Merry Christmas!

  • i made a cupcake version of this recipe for “santa”…he loved them ;-)

  • Just gloriously beautiful!!!

  • Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! :) :)

  • This is a gorgeous cake… great photo and recipe… a home run cake, thanks!

  • Judy

    Just discovered your blog. I am sorry for all the time I’ve missed but will spend many hours catching up. Thank goodness for archives.

    You are beautiful, Your site is beautiful. You are a TRUE inspiration.

    When I get down, discouraged, and lack courage…I will read your blog. Currently, I am experiencing the “holiday blues” but for all that is depressing in the world….poverty, greed, sickness…all the things that make life a challenge…
    if one pays attention, there is also goodness, love, courage, fortitude and incredible kindess.

    So, I will bake which as always been my refuge since about age 8 (inspired by the greatest cook in the world, my Grandma. Unfortunately, I EAT what I bake and I don’t have a beautiful waistline like you.

    You are seriously an inspiration !!! Good luck, good health, and a happy life to you !

  • sandra

    how many times do you think i’d have to multiply the batter to make one of those giant cupcakes? i just got the pan and i want to make this recipe? maybe double?

  • Annie

    Hi Sandra,
    I really have no idea. I don’t own one of those pans so I don’t know what kind of capacity they hold. Sorry!

  • jenniebites

    OK Annie, I made this cake for New Year’s Eve, but I have to say I chickened out and used a different white chocolate buttercream. Does this one really work out with 4 sticks of butter in the icing?

  • Annie

    Yes, it obviously worked wonderfully given my raving post about it. I had about 20ish people eating it, so I wasn’t that bothered by the butter. It’s not like I ate the whole thing myself, or eat it every day.

  • jenniebites

    OK, I will go all-in next time, thanks!

  • This is so pretty! My mom would love it, she thinks that peppermint ice cream is basically the greatest thing ever invented. And I had to laugh when I read about throwing the peppermint at the sides- over the summer my brother and a couple friends came into town for his friend’s birthday, so of course there had to be cake, and I ended up doing the same thing with sprinkles on the side of the cake. I was finding sprinkles for about two weeks afterwards, all around my kitchen and dining room! Lovely job, anyway!

  • I made this cake my family’s huge Christmas Eve party and it was a big hit! Everyone absolutely loved it and it was devoured at the end of the night. I have even been told that I have to make it every year from now on as a tradition.

    I had absolutely no issues with cutting it either. I added the crushed peppermints to the outside the night before (knowing that it may make it difficult to cut the day of) and it was perfect! I kept the cake refrigerated up until about 20 minutes until serving, so maybe because it was still cool had something to do with it? Either way, it was not an issue whatsoever. I used a good knife and a glass of warm water as well.

    Some other notes: I made three tiers and 50% more batter was the perfect amount as you suggested, Annie! However, I’m not the best at frosting cakes, so next time I will make 50% more frosting too. My frosting was a bit scarce and I used every last bit.

    Make sure that the white chocolate is totally cool!! I thought it was cool enough and it ended up curdling my first batch of frosting :(. That was totally my fault, but thought I would share so people are extra careful.

    Make this cake! It’s delicious. Thanks for sharing, Annie!!

  • Melissa

    I need a white chocolate frosting to go with lemon cupcakes that someone asked me to make for them. Would you recommend this one (obviously without the peppermint) and maybe some lemon zest?

  • What is the easiest way to get the peppermint crumbles on the frosting so smoothly. I tend to end up making a giant mess and mine looks very scattered.

  • Annie

    I wouldn’t say there is an easy way, just patience and time :)

  • Jessica

    I really want to make this for a Christmas dinner Friday night, but I don’t have espresso powder and won’t have time to get to a store that sells it before then. Do you think this cake will still taste good without it? I definitely need to buy some – that and vanilla beans – both seem like common ingredients that I don’t ever have!

  • Anonymous

    Sure, it will be fine without. You could also use a bit of instant coffee powder instead. It functions as a flavor enhancer for the chocolate in this recipe, so it isn’t crucial if you need to omit it.

  • Ginnette Malespin

    Hi, I posted a question las week but for some reason is not listed here… The question is: i divide the frosting in 2 batches, one with white chocolate and the other one with the peppermint?? The filling is with peppermint and white chocolate for the frosting? Im i correct?

  • annieseats

    Yes, that is correct. Enjoy!

  • MissG

    I made this cake last year with rave reviews. This year I used this recipe to make cupcakes. I cored the cupcakes and used the recipe for the filling & put it in the middle & frosted them as I would have the cake. Everybody LOVED THEM. They were really good.

  • Wendy Benoit

    Thanks for this recipe! I made this on Monday for my husband’s birthday, we all loved it. The cake itself was pretty easy to make. I only had 2 8 1/4″ pans so that’s what I used and it just didn’t seem like I would have had enough for a 3rd pan. Also I had trouble frosting it (I only had enough butter to make half the frosting, big mistake… hahaha make the whole batch, you’ll need it). I frosted the top only and left the sides unfrosted. There was a lot of chocolate cake ‘debris’ that kept getting mixed in with the frosting, not sure if you had the same problem so it was just tricky. Anyway, I found this recipe so easy and delicious I’m sure I’ll make it again. Thanks again!

  • Kerry Hogan

    Just brought this cake to a New Year’s potluck and everyone loved it! I substituted a package of cream cheese for two of the sticks of butter in the frosting and used less of the cream- 1 1/2 tsp- got rave reviews. Thanks for sharing –

  • Amy Hendel

    Just made this!! For anyone who wanted to make this in cupcake form, it tastes and looks great!! I stole the Bailey’s cupcake ganache recipe and did a white chocolate ganache (and no Bailey’s). When I made the icing I used less butter and more sugar because I thought it was a tad buttery. I also garnished them with Lindt peppermint bark chocolate and halved them.

    Thank you for another fabulous recipe!! I’m brining them into work and I can’t wait for my coworkers to try them. Annie you are a rockstar! :)