Perfectly moist, perfectly chocolate and perfectly perfect for any gathering or holiday this simple chocolate peppermint cake is the best holiday cake.
We’ve been working with McCormick for a few years now, and when the opportunity came to learn more about what to look for in quality spices, herbs and extracts leading up to the holiday cooking season, we knew this was going to be one of our favorite posts yet.
We’ve been asking questions for months now about what people love to eat around the holidays and although I’m a little sad that I didn’t see more pie answers as, it is the greatest thing in the world – I was excited to see so many request a super easy holiday inspired cake. Well we can do that!
You know we’ve always been fans of using really high quality ingredients and we’ve often tried to encourage our readers to use quality herbs, spices, and extracts as it makes such a huge difference in cooking, but this was our chance, our chance to talk with a chef and do a blind taste testing which would really tell us if everything we’ve been saying would hold true.
We had two unmarked containers of cinnamon, thyme and peppermint. I don’t know why, but even when it’s a brand I love I tend to go completely neutral as I really like the results to teach me something.
First we learned a few fun facts:
*Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree and it begins to grow back almost immediately when cut down.
*Thyme should be uniform in size, a little more green or sage in color
*Peppermint not only does NOT taste like peppermint mouth wash as you may be quick to assume since that is pushed so much in products, but instead it’s a cool, more subtle flavor AND it not only tastes that way but peppermint actually has a cooling affect. Try it, grab a McCormick Pure Peppermint extract and another brand and see which one is more medicinal and which one is subtle with a cooling affect. It’s cool, literally, haha!
It all worked!!! The flavors I preferred (there was one that literally smelled and tasted dusty) all turned out to be McCormick. So many readers have told us that changing out their spices really did make a difference in their cooking.
I love when someone says they thought their food never turned out as good as the recipe made it sound until they realized they just weren’t using very good ingredients.
The little things really do make a difference! Which is why we are going to go over the cake and frosting really quick.
- Simple Chocolate peppermint cake loves oil, water, and yogurt or sour cream. We prefer canola oil, but vegetable is great and while we used sour cream you absolutely can use Greek yogurt, just make sure it’s plain and not vanilla or any other flavor.
- Cake does not want to be over-mixed. It’s hard, I know. I want to keep stirring that beautiful, silky batter too, it’s just so therapeutic to stir! It’s also what will create a flat, dry cake. Do not over-mix.
- Use Miracle Pan Release. I love using THESE parchment rounds but if I don’t have any I never just spray and flour. Maybe it’s me but I always end up with a cake that sticks.
- Frosting loves simplicity. You may want to add more peppermint or white chocolate or even food coloring for more swirls, but trust me, keep it simple and it will beautifully compliment the cake. When you use Pure Peppermint Extract like the one from McCormick you’ll notice that the flavor takes care of itself.
What Can You Substitute For Sour Cream?
Plain or Greek yogurt can be substituted for sour cream.
Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to 1 cup yogurt.
We tested and retested the cake and then of course on photographing day I forgot to rap the pans on the counter to get rid of the airbubbles so as you can see, the top layer is holey, not to be confused with holy. 😉 I almost remade it, but then I decided something, one of you are bound to do the same, and if you’re anything like me sometimes the perfection of pinterest and blogs can be daunting so know this, I messed up our simple chocolate peppermint cake and you can too and as long as the flavor is good, who cares?!
How Long Will Chocolate Cake Keep?
Properly stored, freshly baked chocolate cake will last for about 1 to 2 days at normal room temperature.
*Refrigerate immediately any cake that contains frosting or filling made with dairy products or eggs, such as buttercream, whipped cream or custard frostings or fillings.
Simple Chocolate Peppermint Cake
This post was written in partnership with McCormick, however all opinions are our own.
Simple Chocolate Peppermint Cake
Simple Chocolate Peppermint Cake
- 1 Box Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix, the powder only
- 3.4 Ounce Package of Chocolate Fudge Instant Pudding
- 1/2 Cup Water, plus 1 tablespoon
- 4 Eggs
- 3/4 Cup Oil
- 1 Cup Sour Cream
For the Frosting
- 4 Sticks Softened Butter
- Pinch Salt
- 8 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 2 1/4 Teaspoons [McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract]
- 4 Ounces Good Quality White Chocolate, divided
- 1 Drop Red Food Coloring
- 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream or milk
For the Decorating
- Peppermint Bits, found in the baking section of any grocery store.
- Heat an oven to 350 degrees.
- Line 2 8 inch round baking pans with [url:3]parchment rounds[/url] or cover with pan release.
- In a large bowl, dump in the cake mix, pudding powder, water, eggs, oil and sour cream.
- Stir until smooth.
- Divide the batter into two pans.
- Rap the pans hard on the counter to release air bubbles or you will have holes in your cake as shown above.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for 15 minutes and turn out onto cooling racks.
- For the frosting
- In a bowl, add the butter, salt, powdered sugar, extract and begin to beat on low speed.
- As the mixture begins to come together, slowly add a tablespoon at a time of the cream until you reach the desired consistency.
- Separate the frosting into two bowls.
- On a cutting board with a sharp knife, finely chop 1 ounce of the white chocolate.
- Add it to one bowl of frosting with 1 drop of food coloring and fold to create swirls.
- Place on cake on a board or cake stand and add the peppermint white chocolate frosting.
- Top with the second cake and add all of the white frosting on top.
- Using a cake spatula, push the frosting down and over the sides to the bottom of the cake and then work smoothly around the body to scrape the frosting so that the cake shows through. Any excess frosting just pile back on top of the cake and smooth out.
- Take the remaining white chocolate and with a sharp knife very carefully slice along the white chocolate creating shavings instead of rough pieces.
- Place all chocolate on top of the cake.
- Pour some of the peppermint pieces into our hand and gently, using your palm, press the candies around the bottom of the cake.
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