Do you have visions of candy canes come holiday season? If you’re a lover of all things peppermint, you’re going to love this chocolate peppermint cake. With peppermint-infused candies and buttercream, this cake is a twist on a favorite holiday candy!
It may be a marshmallow world in the winter, but in this kitchen, it’s a peppermint party! This 3-layer chocolate candy cane cake is iced and decorated with peppermint buttercream frosting, then topped with peppermint crunch candies and chocolaty sandwich cookies.
A tasty dessert for December birthdays, Christmas and everything in between, this peppermint candy cake is sure to become a new holiday favorite!
Chocolate cake recipe
Let’s get things started with this delicious chocolate cake recipe. You’ll need three 6 in. cake layers for this cake (one recipe is enough to fill three 6 x 2 in. pans).
If you have three 6 in. round pans, you can prepare all three, otherwise you can just reuse the same pan to bake all your layers.
Rushed for time? Use your favorite chocolate cake mix instead!
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
- 1½ granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1½ cups milk
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your pans with nonstick vegetable spray.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk until blended.
Step 3: In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and butter together. It should take about 2 minutes in the microwave. You can also melt the butter and chocolate on the stove in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth and well incorporated.
Step 4: Transfer the melted chocolate mixture to a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, add the vanilla, mixing well to incorporate.
Step 5: Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the chocolate mixture, starting and ending with flour. Beat until well blended and smooth.
Step 6: Pour the batter into your prepared pans and bake for 32 to 36 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Step 7: Cool your cakes in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on a cooling grid before decorating.
How to make peppermint buttercream
To assemble and decorate this cake, you’ll need two batches of this peppermint buttercream recipe.
- ½ cup solid vegetable shortening
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 1: In a large bowl, beat the shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 2: Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When all the sugar has been added, your frosting may appear dry, but it will smooth out in the next step!
Step 3: Add the milk, peppermint extract, salt and vanilla extract. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
How to decorate a peppermint candy cane cake
Now comes the fun part, decorating! First, we’ll show you how to make the stripes on the sides of the cake, then we’ll decorate the top with cookies and swirls of peppermint frosting!
- Peppermint Crunch Candies or crushed up candy canes
- Red Icing Pouch
- Bright White Candy Melts Candy
- Store-bought chocolate sandwich cookies
- Parchment paper – this will help outline the striped design
- Star tip 1M – perfect for piping large, detailed swirls on top of the cake!
Other decorating tools: piping bags, spatula (for spreading buttercream), pencil, ruler, scissors
Step 1 – Assemble cake layers
To start, level your cake layers so they are all even, then stack them with peppermint buttercream in between. When assembled, your cake should be about 6 in. high.
Lightly crumb coat your cake, then place it in the fridge to let the buttercream crust, about 20 minutes.
Step 2 – Make parchment paper template
Using a ruler, pencil and scissors, make eight 1½ in. wide x 7 in. high parchment paper strips and eight ¾ in. wide x 7 in. high parchment paper strips.
Step 3 – Decorate sides of cake
Remove your cake from the fridge and ice it smooth using the peppermint buttercream. Carefully apply the parchment strips to the sides of the cake, alternating sizes (1½ strip, ¾ in. strip, 1½ in. strip, ¾ in. strip, etc.).
Once all the strips have been attached, carefully remove the 1½ in. strips.
Using your hand, lightly press the peppermint crunch candies onto the open 1½ in. spaces. To contain the mess, place your cake on a cookie pan to catch any falling pieces.
Remove the ¾ in. strips. Using the Red Icing Pouch with the round tip, pipe diagonal candy cane lines on all the open ¾ in. spaces.
Step 4 – Decorate the cookies
Melt 4 oz. Bright White candy according to package directions. Dip the chocolate sandwich cookies ½ way into the melted candy, then place on parchment paper. Immediately sprinkle with remaining peppermint crunch candies. Repeat for a total of 6 candy-covered cookies.
Chill the cookies until the candy coating has set, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 5 – Decorate the top of the cake
Prepare a piping bag with a 1M tip and the remaining peppermint buttercream. Pipe 6 swirls, evenly spaced, around the top of the cake.
Place cookies, with the undipped side facing out, in between each swirl. Sprinkle any remaining peppermint crunch candies on top of the swirls.
And there you have it! This cake is a peppermint lover’s dream come true and not only great for Christmas, but for December birthdays and other winter celebrations.
You could even swap out the peppermint buttercream for our traditional buttercream recipe and replace the peppermint crunch candies with jimmies or crushed up cookies for a cake you can enjoy anytime of year!
What is your favorite peppermint-flavored dessert to make for the holidays? Let us know in the comments below, or share a picture of your favorite peppermint sweet treat on social media and tag us @wiltoncakes!
Peppermint Candy Cane Crunch Cake
- Medium Bowl
- Electric Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
- Large Bowl
Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 2½ cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 6 ounces Semi Sweet Chocolate
- ¾ cup Butter 1 1/2 Sticks
- 1½ cups Granulated Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1½ cups Milk
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup Solid Vegetable Shortening
- 1 cup Butter 2 Sticks, Softened
- 8 cups Powdered Sugar (Confectioners' Sugar)
- 4 tbsp Milk
- 1 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Peppermint Candy & Cookie Decorations
- 1 Red Decorator Icing Pouch with Tips
- 1 bag Bright White Candy Melts Candy
- 6 Store-Bought Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
- Peppermint Crunch Candies or Crushed Up Candy Canes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray your pans with nonstick vegetable spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt, whisking or blending thoroughly until well combined. Then set it aside.
- Next, in a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and butter together. This should take about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the mixture until it’s smooth.
- Transfer the melted chocolate mixture to a large bowl.
- Add the sugar to this mixture and beat it with an electric mixer until it's well blended.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Once eggs are added, mix in the pure vanilla extract, until entirely combined.
- Grab the flour mixture that was set aside and begin alternately adding it and the milk to the chocolate mixture. Make sure you start and end by adding the flour mixture. Blend until it is well combined and smooth.
- Pour completed batter into prepared pans and bake for 32-to-36 minutes. When done baking, a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes, should come out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 15-minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and place on a cooling grid or wire rack to cool completely, before doing an decorating.
Make Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
- In a large bowl, beat the shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until it is well combined. This should take about 2-to-3 minutes.
- Next, add the sugar, one cup at a time, making sure to beat the mixture well after each addition.
- Once all the sugar has been added, pour in the milk, peppermint extract, salt and vanilla extract.
- Finally, beat the mixture at medium speed until it's light and fluffy. This should take about 3-to-4 minutes. Set aside and keep chilled if waiting for cakes to cool.
Assemble Cake Layers & Crumb Coat Cake
- Once cakes have cooled completely, make sure they are level and then stack them, spatula on a layer of peppermint buttercream frosting between them. Assembled cake should stand 6-inches high.
- Lightly crumb coat the cake. When done, place it in the fridge so the buttercream can crust. Let chill for about 20-minutes.
Make Parchment Paper Templates
- Use a ruler, pencil and scissors, to make eight 1½ in. wide x 7 in. high parchment paper strips and eight ¾ in. wide x 7 in. high parchment paper strips to use in decorating the cake.
Decorate the Sides of the Cake
- Remove the cake from the fridge and ice it smooth using the peppermint buttercream frosting.
- Carefully apply the prepared parchment strips to the sides of the cake, alternating sizes. So a 1½ strip, then a ¾ in. strip, then a 1½ in. strip, then a ¾ in. strip, etc.
- When all the strips have been attached, gently remove the 1½ in. strips from the cake.
- Use your hand to, lightly press the Peppermint Crunch Candies or crushed up candy canes onto the open 1½ in. spaces.
- Next, remove the ¾ in. strips.
- Then, using the red decorator icing pouch with a round tip attached, pipe diagonal candy cane lines on all the open ¾ in. spaces.
Decorate the Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
- Melt 4 oz. of Wilton's Bright White Candy Melts Candy according to package directions.
- Carefully dip a chocolate sandwich cookie about half-way into the melted candy melts candy, place it on some parchment paper and then immediately sprinkle with some of the remaining peppermint crunch candies or crushed candy canes.
- Repeat these steps until you have a total of 6 candy-covered cookies.
- Chill the cookies for about 5 minutes to allow everything to set properly.
Decorate the Top of the Cake
- Fill a decorator bag with some of the remaining peppermint buttercream frosting and attach the Star Decorating Tip 1M to it.
- Pipe 6 swirls that are evenly spaced all around the top of the cake.
- Next, place the chilled cookies, with the undipped sides facing outwards, in between each swirl.
- Lastly, sprinkle any remaining peppermint crunch candies or crushed candy canes you have on hand, on top of the swirls for a final flourish.