Winter Delight Peppermint Cake

Earlier this season, the stunning, elegant and fabulously talented Camille from the entertaining site Camille Styles asked me to contribute to her 12 Tastes of Christmas series (which has been amazing so far, filled with everything from Candied Orange Peel to Winter Citrus Curd). Camille’s work and blog are centered around “creative parties and inspired entertaining,” so I knew that I wanted to create a little something special that I would like to serve at a holiday dinner or party, but that did not take hours and hours to prepare. So, I came up with this Winter Delight Peppermint Cake. Isn’t it funny how the moment the holiday season arrives, we seem to yearn for minty confections? And chocolate? And sparkles? Well, actually, that may be an all-year-long thing, but it’s definitely a much-welcomed winter treat, and I love bringing these flavours together with some contrast: dark fudgy chocolate layer cake filled with fluffy pastel mint frosting, fine-crushed peppermint candy (or as I like to call it, Peppermint Pixie Dust), and a generous coating of sanding sugar. In other words, winter in a cake!

Image Source 

Remember a little while ago, I was writing about some of the sources of inspiration I love? Well, among those was Pinterest, of course, where I came across this vintage Christmas card (a scanned childhood Christmas card of a fellow Flickr member). When I saw that beautiful holly & ivy-adorned glisteny dome (yes, I am creatively writing to avoid the word “muff,” forgive me!), I was suddenly needing to make a domed-style layer cake. I love the retro quality to it all, and it takes no extra time to make, bake, or frost, so why not? Sometimes I think the classic layer cake needs a twist, don’t you?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got a flurry of baking (and other things) on the go at this time of year, so you might agree that fancy-but-fuss-free is a great approach to holiday dessert. Sure, we could stick with just fuss-free, but who doesn’t want to infuse a little fanciness into their holiday? With a simple (but delicious) one-bowl chocolate cake and a whipped version of a classic bakery frosting, I find this cake to be just the answer (not entirely fuss-free, but pretty close if you go with a simple topper). The cake’s unique dome shape paired with the sparkly sprinkling of white sanding sugar gives it a pretty finish that is actually pretty quick and easy to do. A contour cake pan is the easy trick (I used the 8″ Contour Cake Pan with Rounded Bottom Edge, 8 Inch x 3 Inch) to quickly achieving this shape with no carving (I avoid this at all costs), a generous sprinkling of the crushed peppermint candy between the layers and a simple “tossing” of coarse sugar onto the frosted cake adds a snowy twinkle (and a delightful sugar crunch!).

And of course fuss-free really does matter, because there’s just never enough time to get everything done over the holidays, particularly if you are entertaining (you know…planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, baking, cleaning, setting, decorating, hosting–no biggie, right?), but it’s wonderful when fuss-free tastes so good and pleases your crowd (a few oohs and aahs never hurts a hostess’ feelings either). This old-fashioned chocolate cake is dark and decadent (a good quality dark cocoa powder is key), and the whipped minted frosting is light with a supreme fluffiness (a simple extended whipping of the butter is to thank for this texture)–all with a subtle peppermint candy crunch hidden on top of each filling layer. From what I can tell, this combination never disappoints.

You can also add some glittery holly and ivy decorations for some fun and wintery vintage flair (you can even buy a faux-floral decoration or use your imagination–I think even a quirky ornament would be a cute topper!). I made mine by tinting a small bit of fondant raspberry pink and rolling 3 small “holly berries,” and then some green to cut 3 ivy leaves. I let dry and then dusted with edible glitter. I bet any sparkly little cake topper would add a unique touch, sugar or otherwise. I also loved the look of the sugary mint green cake sans adornment, so you truly can’t go wrong.

Happy Holidays!

Winter Delight Peppermint Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round, domed cake (serves 10)

Moist, dark chocolate cake filled with fluffy peppermint frosting, crushed peppermint candy, and topped with sugar-coated peppermint frosting. The holidays in a cake!


    For the Cake:
  • 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups (550 g) white sugar
  • 1 cup (120 g) dark unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Cacao Barry Extra Dark
  • 2.5 teaspoons (12 g) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon (10 g) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon (14 g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (280 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (280 ml) hot brewed coffee or espresso
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 4.5 sticks (563 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 4.5 cups (720 g) confectioners' sugar (icing, powdered), sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.75 ml) peppermint extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Few drops of green food colour + a few drops of pink (or a drop of red) food colour
  • Crushed peppermint candy, for sprinkling over each layer of filling
  • White sanding sugar for outside of cake (optional)


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare one round 8-inch cake pan with butter, a parchment paper round and cocoa powder. Tap out excess. Prepare an 8-inch contour pan with a generous greasing of butter and cocoa powder (or flour), and tap out excess.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift and add all dry ingredients. In a larger measuring cup gently whisk together all remaining ingredients.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix on medium for 2 minutes (you will need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Pour into prepared pans--fill the cake pans 2/3 full. Batter will be liquidy.
  4. Bake until a toothpick or skewer comes almost clean, about 30 minutes (this is approximate and can vary) for the standard cake pan and about 40 minutes for the contour pan. Avoid opening oven door during the first 20 minutes of baking, and try not to over-bake.
  5. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen edges with a small palette knife, and gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  6. For the Frosting:
  7. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use "4" on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  8. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  9. If desired, tint ~2 cups of frosting pink (for filling) and remaining frosting mint green (for outside of cake).
  10. For a thicker frosting, you can add and whip in small amounts of icing sugar; for thinner frosting, you can add a touch more milk until it reaches desired consistency.
  11. Assembly of the Winter Delight Cake:
  12. Spread a small dollop of pink frosting onto desired cake plate or cake board (this keeps cake from shifting) and place your 8-inch cake layer (standard round), top-side facing up and trim top until flat, if necessary, using a long sharp serrated knife.
  13. Take your 8-inch contour cake, with bottom up, and trim any doming (from the the flat side), and then make 1 horizontal slice in the middle, resulting in 2 layers. You should now have 1 standard 8" layer and 2 layers from the contour pan, totaling 3 cake layers.
  14. Place 1 cup of peppermint frosting on top of your first layer and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife.Sprinkle a generous layer of the crushed peppermint candy on top of the frosting (I like it really fine, like peppermint a "pixie dust" of sorts, but slightly bigger pieces would be great too, giving more crunch), leaving about a 1" edge un-sprinkled.
  15. Gently place the next cake layer on top, with the more narrow end (contour side) up, then repeat previous step. Gently place the final cake layer, smooth domed side up, on top.
  16. Put a very generous scoop of mint green frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. You will want to start with very generous additions of frosting, as much of it will be scraped off with your palette knife when smoothing. To keep the distinct rounded top, be sure to smooth over the domed top as much as possible. Chill until set -- about 30 minutes in refrigerator or 15 minutes in freezer.
  17. Remove from refrigerator/freezer and cover with remaining mint green frosting. Once your cake is frosted, you can place it (cake stand and all) over a cookie sheet and generously sprinkle with sanding sugar for an icy effect (you will actually need to "toss" sugar at the sides, but your cookie sheet will catch excess, allowing you to return remaining sugar to container when finished). Add wintery topper decoration, if desired.
  18. Store in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerator for 5 days. Best enjoyed at room temperature.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Contour cake pans are available in many sizes at baking supply shops. I used 8″ Contour Cake Pan with Rounded Bottom Edge, 8 Inch x 3 Inch
  • You can also bake the cake layers in 3 standard 8″ pans, if you don’t have a contour pan or if you prefer a more classic cake shape.
  • The chocolate cake batter also makes delicious cupcakes. For a Winter Delight Peppermint Cupcakes, you can add a generous swirl of minty frosting and sprinkle with the crushed peppermint candy.
  • For a quick and tidy candy-crushing method (and to get out all of your holiday-induced stress), place your candy on a large cutting board with a tea towel on top and crush away using a meat pounder, or the like. The more you crush it, the finer it will be. Lift towel, and voila!
Good luck & enjoy!

Share the Sweetness!


  1. Sarina says

    This is beautiful!!I love it! And you are right, minty desserts are the best all year round, but even more so around the holidays!! Thank you for posting :)

  2. says

    It’s definitely good to have some fuss free options this time of year but this looks stunning too. Such gorgeous colours and I bet it tastes amazing I will have to make this soon.

  3. says

    What a beautiful cake! I love all the sparkle. :) I’m definitely going to have to check out those pans–such a fun cake. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Alba says

    I’ve already tried the recipe for tha cake, and it’s so delicious! One of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever tasted! And the cake is: TOO. MUCH. BEAUTIFUL.

  5. says

    This is such a beautiful cake – I love the thickness of the frosting, the combination of peppermint and chocolate and the cute little design on top. It doesn’t look entirely fuss free to me but definitely worth the little effort to make such a showstopper of a cake :-)

  6. Imen says

    Sweet mama! This cake looks absolutely divine! Peppermint & choc are my favorite flavour combo this time of year! Adore! May have to make it for the family at Little Christmas…thank you for sharing Rosie! X

  7. says

    I made peppermint/chocolate cupcakes for the office on Monday, Rosie! Great minds! ;) Using your suggested cocoa, by the way, which has been a god send!

    This cake looks so spectacular as usual! Gorgeous!

    Holiday wishes to you and yours! And, a very Happy New Year!

  8. says

    This is such a delightfully festive, ethereal cake! Gorgeous! And I am so glad you took us through the thought process and where you got the inspiration b/c as soon as I saw it my first thought was, “How does she come up with this stuff?!” I need to follow more peeps on pinterest I think.

    Do you need a bakers apprentice or something? I want to come learn all this magic from you!

  9. says

    I love this Rosie! So creative and adorable…I love the card you garnered inspiration from too. Hope you had a nice holiday and that 2012 is wonderful for you!

  10. Jackie says

    Hi Rosie

    What size round cake pan did you use 8×1/2 or 8×2 or 8×3. Also, what other flavors can I use in this contour cake other than peppermint.

    • says

      Hi Jackie,
      I use the 8 x 3″ contour pan–I like the option to create thinner and thicker layers. As for flavours of this cake, truly, you can create any flavour you wish–there are so many options! You could do a simple dark chocolate and vanilla bean cake by omitting the peppermint oil and replacing it with a vanilla bean and tablespoon of pure vanilla extract. You could flavour the frosting anything you like, or go with a flavoured Swiss Meringue Buttercream with some fruit puree to taste. I hope this helps! Happy New Year, Jackie!

  11. says

    Dear Jackie, I found your blog today (through a link on Shauna Sever’s blog page), and I am enchanted. I’ll be kept very busy playing catch-up with all the amazing recipes and decorating ideas. Cheers from the South Seas, Karen Brown..Wellington, New Zealand

  12. says

    I thought I left a commment on this post but now I’m not sure. So I’m back. Beautiful. One of my favourite you’ve done, which is saying alot. You are very talented and I’m so looking forward to the next year and what’s in store. Happy New Year to you, the husband and the cakelets!

  13. says

    this is a gorgeous cake with beautiful photos! you never fail to impress!! i have loved every single recipe of yours that i’ve made!

    i’m so so happy that i found your blog this year and i can’t wait to see what you share in 2012! thank you for everything you create and share! happy new year, rosie! xo

  14. says

    I love where you got the inspiration for this gorgeous fluffy puffy sparkly cake and so get you wanting to avoid using the word the *other* word for *old fashioned hand warmer* ;)

  15. Sarah says

    Imade this tonight. Absolutely beautiful. I did white icing and sprinkled the extra crushed candy canes on the top. Only thing, it is going to work with me tomorrow and is too tall for the cake carrier!

  16. Stine says

    Thanks for a great cake :) Made it with all white frosting (used the whitener) and a fondant rose on top, turned out great. I didn’t have a contour pan so i just used one larger and one smaller regular one and it worked like a charm :) Will definitely be making this again as I’ve gotten three “best I’ve ever tasted” so far :) I’m looking forward to trying some of your other recipes soon :)

    Love S

  17. Katie M says

    I’m a little late to discovering your blog/this holiday party but this is AMAZING. I can’t believe you made a cake look like a snowball! You work magic in the kitchen!

  18. Natalie says

    I love your site! I have been browsing for a while now and have enjoyed everything I see. Your creations are so beautiful and look delicious!

  19. says

    Wow, I used this chocolate cake recipe and peppermint frosting combination for a giant cupcake creation I made last week. The cake was super moist, easy to carve and the frosting piped beautifully. Everyone that took a bite of the cake got a pleasant surprise when they found that the pink ombré roses on the cake were actually peppermint flavored. Thank you Rosie, you are always inspirational.

  20. Alexandra says

    Gorgeous cake!! I’m planning on making these as cupcakes, about how long do you think they’ll need in the oven?

  21. Dee says

    Hi Rosie!

    This is so BEAUTIFUL!! i’m super excited to try it but just wondering how ‘dark’ the chocolate cake tastes? Not a massive fan of dark chocolate but I get a feeling the colour contrast won’t look as impressive with a normal chocolate cake!

  22. Michelle says

    I suspect that peppermint oil as opposed to extract would deliver even more mint. I loooooove a strong mint flavor à la Peppermint Patties. After much searching, I finally found some peppermint oil at a local cake supply store. It’s expensive but worthwhile.

  23. Jocelyn says

    I made this for a big dinner last week and it was amazing!! I had a hard time with the contour one but totally salvaged it with icing and everyone loved it. Thanks for the recipe!!

  24. Gerri says

    Made this for a Christmas gathering last week. Another winner from Rosie, this cake is wonderful and the balance of peppermint with the chocolate cake is perfect.
    Have had requests to bake it for two more gatherings. You make me look good!!

  25. Andrea says

    Rosie, I absolutely adore this cake! Every year for Christmas, I bake festive cupcakes for my family, and I just LOVE your holly topper! I can’t wait to try them out this year. Can you tell me what brand/color dye you used for the holly? I’m also really curious about the glitter you went with. Can you let me know the brand and color of those as well?

    Thanks so much for the awesome blog posts!! My family, friends and I really enjoy your delicious recipes!

    Happy Holidays!

  26. Andrea says

    Hi Rosie,

    I posted a comment through my Pinterest app, but it doesn’t seem to be showing up here, so sorry if this posts twice. I just really wanted to say that I LOVE this cake, especially the holly leaf and berry topper! For the past couple of years, I’ve been baking cupcakes for all my family’s holiday parties, and this Christmas, I can’t wait to recreate these adorable holly toppers.

    Can you please tell me what colors and brands you used for your food dye and edible glitter? I think the shades you chose were perfect for that vintage Christmas look, and that glitter is just gorgeous and iridescent! If you happen to have a minute this week to respond, I’d really appreciate it!

    Thanks and Happy Holidays!!

  27. Izumi says

    Hi Rossie,

    Lovely cake… I’m planning making these for my Mom’s Birthday, may I know how you make strong brewed coffee? Thank you :*

    • says

      Hi Izumi,
      You can simply use regular brewed coffee, or add a little extra coffee to the filter than normal. So rather than adding say 1 tablespoon per 8oz cup of water, I might add 1-1/2 tablespoons. You can also use a bold coffee. But honestly, even regular brewed coffee works well! Hope this helps. :)

  28. Pam says

    Difficulty getting the cocoa you used- The shipping is as much as the product. Would the Hershey’s Special dark cocoa be good enough? I’d love to make this next week.

  29. Chermel says

    Hi Rosie,
    I’m planning on making this cake for christmas, although I’m not sure how I measure my cake tins.
    Should the 8″ be measured on the underneath of the cake tin or on the top of the tin (inside edge to inside edge)?


  30. Becca Porter says

    I’m making my daughter’s 16th bday cake today. I want to coat one of the tiers in gold coarse sugar. If I do this, and then refrigerate overnight, will the sugar melt? I really appreciate the advice. Thanks.

  31. Kristina says

    Hi! I made this today for a Christmas party. While it didn’t come out as pretty as yours, it did come together quite well. The cake itself was really crumbly and had a tendency to break off in clumps so leveling took a little more effort than usual, but it was still doable. I’m mostly making this comment so lazy (like me)/novice bakers know. The frosting is fabulous and has such a cloud-like texture!

  32. Kathryn says

    Wait, was this 1 8×2 standard pan and 1 contour pan 8×3 (cut into two layers)? Or 2 8×2 standards and 1 8×3?


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