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Peppermint Fudge Cake

This Peppermint Fudge Cake is one of the best Christmas desserts. The homemade fudgy chocolate cake has no peppermint in the cake batter to prevent an overpowering flavor. Instead, the peppermint is added to the luscious buttercream frosting. It’s a perfect balance.

Chocolate cake with white icing decorated with a fudge drip and crushed candy canes sitting on a white cake stand.

Isn’t this cake stunning? It screams holiday just like my yule log cake and peppermint meringue cookies!

There's a triple layer of fudgy chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream frosting sandwiched between each layer. The cake is coated in a thin layer peppermint frosting as well and decorated with crushed candy cane all around the sides.

A decadent chocolate ganache is layered over the top of the cake and allowed to drip halfway down the sides. I just love the look of drip cakes. My chocolate coconut cake is another one of my favorites.

For a finishing touch, red and white swirled peppermint frosting is piped on top of the cake. This really adds to the festive holiday feel, making the cake perfect for a Christmas party.

A slice of peppermint fudge cake on a white plate with candy canes scattered around.

This cake is extra rich, fudgy, and decadent.

To achieve this I used dark cocoa powder along with melted unsweetened baking chocolate. There's also a hint of coffee mixed in to heighten the chocolate flavor.

I find that adding both cocoa powder and baking chocolate fills the cake with intense chocolate flavor and yields a rich, almost brownie-like, texture.

Be sure to use quality chocolate also, as this will greatly impact the flavor of the cake. Ghirardelli is one of the brands of chocolate I use most and chose to use it for today's peppermint fudge cake.

Close up view of a peppermint fudge cake decorated with crushed candy canes, chocolate drip, and red and white buttercream swirls.

For more fun cake recipes, try this Chocolate Pistachio Cake, this Eggnog Cake, and this Pineapple Carrot Cake.

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Chocolate cake with white icing decorated with a fudge drip and crushed candy canes sitting on a white cake stand.

Peppermint Fudge Cake

Yield: 24 people
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This Peppermint Fudge Cake is one of the best Christmas desserts. The homemade fudgy chocolate cake has no peppermint in the cake batter to prevent an overpowering flavor. Instead, the peppermint is added to the luscious buttercream frosting. It’s a perfect balance. 

Ingredients

For the chocolate cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup dark cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee, cooled

For the peppermint buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • crushed candy canes
  • red food coloring

For the chocolate ganache

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Instructions

Make the cake

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray 3 8-inch round pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper cut into a circle to fit the pan. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray and dust the pan lightly with cocoa powder. Tap out any excess and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
  3. Add the chocolate to a small heatproof bowl and set it over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir continuously until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together on medium-low speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and mix until well incorporated. With the mixer set to low speed. gradually add half the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk and coffee, and then the remaining flour mixture. Beat just until combined. The batter will be thick.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter all the way to the edges of the pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few dry crumbs. Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely. Peel the parchment paper off the bottoms before filling.

Make the frosting

  1. Combine the butter and peppermint extract in a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat until combined and creamy.
  2. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, until the frosting becomes thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You may need more or less confectioners' sugar depending on how soft the butter is.
  3. Reserve 1 cup of frosting in a separate bowl and set aside for later.

Assemble to cake

  1. Place one cake layer onto a serving platter. Add a generous amount of frosting and spread it to the edge with a spatula. Repeat with a second cake layer, topping it with a generous amount of frosting. Add the third cake layer and cover the top and sides of cake with frosting. Press crushed candy canes into the sides of the cake near the bottom and coming up less than halfway. Set the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Make the ganache

  1. Place the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Spoon ¼ cup of the chocolate glaze over the top of the cake. Drizzle the remaining glaze along the edge of the cake all the way around, allowing it to drip down the sides. Set the cake back into the freezer for 10 minutes.

Make the swirled frosting

  1. Divide the remaining frosting in half and color one half with red food coloring. Transfer each frosting to its own piping bag. Insert a star piping tip into a larger piping bag. Cut the ends off each piping bag holding the frosting and insert them side by side in the large bag containing the tip. Pipe swirls on top of the cake. Keep the cake refrigerated and remove 30 minutes prior to serving.

Notes

Because of the texture of this cake, cold cake layers are easiest to work with. Once the layers have cooled, wrap them tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap and pop them into the freezer for a few hours or up to 2 days. When you are ready to assemble the cake, set the wrapped layers on the countertop for 30 minutes to thaw slightly. Continue with frosting and layering the cake.

Make ahead tip

  1. Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. The frosting can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days.
  2. The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 525Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 256mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 2gSugar: 56gProtein: 4g

* Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy by an online nutrition calculator and is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always seek advice from a nutritionist or medical professional.

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Antonia Benitez

Saturday 19th of December 2020

Curious if anyone has made this in a bundt pan? Wondering if there's any adjustments I would need to make - i'd rather not have to bake layers if possible -

thank you!

Jenni

Thursday 17th of December 2020

Curious if this tastes at all like coffee ... I really do not like coffee???

Jen Sobjack

Thursday 17th of December 2020

It doesn't taste like coffee. The coffee enhances the chocolate flavor. You can use milk in its place if needed.

Sylvia Gonzalez

Monday 16th of December 2019

Just made this cake for work tomorrow. Christmas luncheon. Had to double the frosting recipe to crumb coat the cake even though it was cold. Looks beautiful and smells heavenly. First time doing, so a lot of steps and 2 day process since I work. But well worth it. I suspect the next time it'll be easier.

Ivy

Monday 10th of June 2019

Hi Jen, could I make this as cupcakes?

Jen Sobjack

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

Since the cake is very similar to my chocolate cupcake recipe, I'm pretty sure that would be fine.

Erika

Tuesday 25th of December 2018

OMG this cake was awesome! I wanted a new Christmas dessert and came across this one on Pinterest. I sorta screwed up the batter and added too much cocoa and the cake still turned out great. I also did a basic ganache recipie I already had that was just a simple equal parts cream and semi-sweet chocolate. This was probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. Such a beautiful Christmas dessert. Thanks Jen, this will definitely be a family staple!

Jen Sobjack

Wednesday 2nd of January 2019

Hi Erika! Thanks for sharing your feedback. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the cake for Christmas!

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