It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and whether you celebrate that with your spouse or hang out with your besties for Galentine’s, this chocolate peppermint layer cake is the perfect dessert for the occasion.
I made this chocolate peppermint layer cake over the weekend. All of the forecasts for the Pacific Northwest showed seven full days of snow. On Friday I went shopping at Costco – not because I was worried about the impending storm, but because we needed food. I completely forgot about the forecast. Until I walked into the store. It was crazy. But I figured if I was going to be holed up in my house for days, I better have good snacks for the kids or risk their malnourishment.
Snow-pocolypse in the Portland area
The snow started falling in Oregon City around 9 or 10 on Friday night. And we woke up to about an inch on the ground. It’s always so pretty to see it snow here since it doesn’t happen every year. But I ended up baking all weekend, thinking the potential for snow was going to ruin any plans I tried to make.
What cracks me up is, come Saturday night, all the forecasters are changing their predictions for the coming week. First it was more snow on Sunday and maybe Monday. Probably rain a couple days and then possibly snow closer to next weekend. They couldn’t have been more wrong! The snow was pretty much melted Sunday afternoon, and this week’s forecast became 7 days of rain.
Which I am so happy about because I’m driving down to Salem tomorrow to pick up 30 pounds of frozen marionberries! I was so worried about the weather preventing me from getting my stash. So I called the people that put on the berry sale every year. He said they would keep us updated if they had to move it. But now I’m not worried at all.
So even though the forecasts were all wrong, I still got to enjoy some quality baking and photog time. That’s where the chocolate peppermint layer cake comes in.
If you love chocolate, then this won’t disappoint. I tweaked a recipe from Half Baked Harvest (gotta love Tieghan!), and my whole family loved it. I even had a stash of candy canes I saved from Christmas to adorn this cute cake.
If you plan to make this cake, allow enough time for the cakes to cool before cutting them. It’s also a good idea to allow the ganache to set before assembling the cake. Easy peasy!
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For the cake:
- 2 1/4 cups | 11.25 ounces all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup | 7 ounces sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup hot water
For the ganache:
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate,* roughly chopped
For the buttercream:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ounces mascarpone, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 (8 inch) round cake pans with parchment, and then spray parchment with non-stick.
- In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the buttermilk and peppermint and mix until just combined. Add in hot water and mix until smooth.
- Divide batter between the two cake pans and bake 35-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let let for five minutes, the remove cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the ganache:
- Place chopped chocolate and butter in medium bowl.
- Heat cream in heavy saucepan until just scalding. Pour hot cream over chocolate and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit 5-10 minutes and then stir. If chocolate isn’t fully melted, pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and stir. Let ganache cool to room temperature
For the buttercream:
- Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add mascarpone and mix until combined.
- Add sifted powdered sugar and peppermint and mix on low until light and fluffy, 5-8 minutes.
To assemble cake:
- Run a serrated knife parallel to your work surface to cut cake layers in half. Set each half on a work surface and cover three layers with the cool ganache.
- Stack cakes on top of one another and frost with peppermint frosting. You can either cover the entire cake with the frosting or do a “naked” cake on the sides.
- Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy canes and decorate with pairs of small candy canes to form heart along the sides.
Use semi-sweet baking chocolate in bar form. Chips do not melt as well because they have stabilizers to keep their shape during baking.