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Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Candy canes are crushed to provide a holiday crunch and flavor to homemade buttercream in this showstopping Christmas dessert.

Serves 12
Ready in 60 mins
Prep time 30 mins
Cooking time 30 mins
789 calories per serving

For the Cake

> Baking spray
> 2 cups all-purpose flour
> 2 cups sugar
> 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
> 2 tsp baking powder
> 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
> 1 tsp salt
> 1 tsp espresso powder
> 1 cup whole milk
> 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
> 2 large eggs, room temperature
> 2 tsp vanilla extract
> 1 cup boiling water

For the Peppermint Frosting and Decoration

> 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
> pinch of salt
> 6 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
> 2 tsp vanilla extract
> 1 tsp peppermint extract
> 4 tbsp whole milk
> Finely crushed candy canes and peppermint balls, for decorating


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 6-inch (or two 8- or 9-inch) cake pans with the baking spray. Line bottoms of pans with parchment and grease parchment and insides of pans. Lightly dust insides of pans with some cocoa powder.
In a large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder. Add the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until combined. On low speed, gradually and carefully mix in the boiling water.
Divide cake batter among pans and bake 25–30 min., until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack 10 min. With icing spatula or butter knife, loosen sides of cakes from pans. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
For the frosting, in a large bowl, beat the butter and salt until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Mix in the vanilla and peppermint extracts. Gradually beat in the milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until desired consistency.
Arrange cake layers on cake plate using half of the frosting in between the layers. Spread remaining frosting on outside of cake. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top and press into sides of cake.


MAKE-AHEAD TIP Cake layers can be made and cooled up to a month ahead. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place in gallon-size freezer bags. Defrost, wrapped, in refrigerator before frosting and serving.
SHORTCUT Use a devil’s food cake mix for the layers. Mix 1 tsp peppermint extract into 2 (16 oz) containers vanilla buttercream. Decorate with crushed candy canes.

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