Get your cake and peppermint bark fix at the same time with this Chocolate Candy Cane Cake! Instead of polishing off a tin in one swoop, top this season’s favorite chocolate drip cake with white and dark chocolate peppermint bark (homemade optional).
Candy cane stripes reveal themselves with this clever technique. Alternatively, use the comb side of our tried and trusted icing smoother to create ridges in a freshly frosted cake. Pipe pink buttercream with a very small piping tip (or tipless bag with a small opening) in the grooves then smooth (as you would finish off a smoothly frosted cake) to reveal the pink and white stripes. No chilling required - just keep going until the stripes POP but stop before all icing is removed.
For the chocolate drips, make sure the glaze is the correct temperature and consistency - not too hot that is slides right off the buttercream but not too cool and stiff that it clumps instead of drips. Read up on How to Make a Drip Cake before getting started.
Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
For the peppermint bark
4 ounces white chocolate or compound chocolate
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
4 ounces dark chocolate
4 to 6 peppermints, crushed
In the top portion of a double-boiler or a heat-safe bowl set over a pan of simmer water, melt the white chocolate. Once melted, stir in the peppermint extract then spread into a thin layer on a piece of parchment paper or non-stick silicone mat. Allow to dry.
Once the white chocolate has set, melt the dark chocolate in the top portion of a double-boiler. Spread over the white chocolate with an offset spatula and sprinkle with crushed peppermint. Allow to dry then cut or break into pieces.
For the chocolate cake
1 ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
1 cup hot coffee (or water)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the flour, cocoa power, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop and scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, stream in the coffee. Mix on medium-low for no more than 30 seconds, or until the batter is combined.
Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
For the peppermint buttercream
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 to 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste
Using a stand (or hand) mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy (1 to 3 minutes.)
Gradually add all but 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, vanilla, and peppermint extract with mixer at low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Mix until blended.
Beat at medium-high speed 3 to 5 minutes, until buttercream is light, airy, and nearly white. If needed, add the additional powered sugar or milk until desired consistency is achieved. The buttercream should spread smoothly without tearing the crumb of the cake but think enough that it holds shape when piped and spread between the layers.
For the chocolate glaze
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Place the chocolate, cream, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low until the cream begins to steam and the chocolate starts to melt. Remove from the heat and stir to combine. Stir in the salt. Pour the glaze into a heat-safe container and allow to cool and thicken before use. The glaze should be cool enough that it does not melt or run off the cake, but thin enough that it drips naturally down the sides of the cake.
Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. Spread on about ¾ cup of buttercream with an offset spatula until smooth. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat. Place the last layer on top of the cake. Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of buttercream then refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes.
Once chilled, frost the cake as desired. Test the chocolate glaze by drizzling a small amount off the top ledge of the cake. Cool or re-heat the glaze accordingly. To make the chocolate drips, add chocolate glaze around the cake and let set. Once the glaze has set, decorate the cake with the remaining frosting and pieces of peppermint bark.
Serve the cake at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers in a cake box or loosely covered with plastic wrap for up to 3 days.