My peppermint bark cake is made with moist dark chocolate cake layers and a white chocolate peppermint frosting. It’s so festive and incredibly decadent! Recipe includes a how-to video!
New Favorite Christmas Dessert: Peppermint Bark Cake
Today we’re transforming classic peppermint bark candy into a fun and festive holiday cake. This peppermint bark cake is a stunner and sure to be the star of your Christmas dessert table. The base is the same richly fudgy and chocolatey cake from my triple chocolate cake recipe, which we’ll top with a peppermint-infused white chocolate frosting (a favorite of mine!). We’ll cloak the whole thing in a dark chocolate ganache, and then pipe peppermint swirls to finish.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Incredible combination of rich chocolate cake layers, a white chocolate peppermint buttercream, and fudgy chocolate ganache.
- Surprisingly not too sweet! The dark cocoa in the cake and reduced sugar in the frosting (compared to traditional buttercream frosting) means this cake is well-balanced.
- Uses the reverse creaming method (sort of) so there’s very little chance of over-mixing AND technically you could combine the batter by hand without even plugging in a mixer!
- Incorporates oil and butter for a moist and flavorful cake crumb. Using all oil would keep the layers moist, but the flavor wouldn’t be quite as nice. All butter would taste great, but could be dry. So a combination really is best!
I have a feeling this peppermint bark cake will be just as popular as the gingerbread layer cake I shared last year. It’s perfect for everyone who has had their fill of Christmas cookies by the time the big day rolls around 🤪
I can’t wait for you to try it!
What You Need
Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of ingredients here; most will already be in your pantry already. I’ll point out a few of the important ones before we get started.
- Cocoa powder. I like dark cocoa for the darkest color and flavor. If you can’t find this, use Dutch process.
- Buttermilk. This makes our cake incredibly moist and flavorful. I recommend using full fat buttermilk for the best results, but you could use my easy buttermilk substitute in a pinch.
- Hot water. If you really want to amp up the chocolate flavor in this peppermint bark cake, use hot coffee instead!
- Peppermint extract. Make sure you use peppermint extract and not mint extract! They have totally different flavors (mint tends to lean more towards a toothpaste flavor–not what we’re looking for here).
- White chocolate. Use a quality white chocolate and heat it slowly so it doesn’t seize. I have a tutorial on how to melt chocolate in the microwave if you have had issues with this in the past.
We should probably discuss the pile of butter in the very center of this photo too…yes, it’s a lot! This is because we’re frosting a three layer cake, and I wanted to have plenty leftover for those pretty swirls on top. Feel free to reduce the frosting if you like, just know you won’t be able to decorate the cake as shown in photos. I’m admittedly over-indulgent when it comes to frosting, especially one I like so much!
SAM’S TIP: Use room temperature eggs! This ensures a smooth and uniform batter. If you forget to set your eggs out ahead of time, follow my tips on how to quickly bring eggs to room temperature.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Peppermint Bark Cake
Make the Cake Layers
- Whisk together the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in the melted butter and oil until everything is evenly coated. The batter will be thick at this point–this is totally normal!
- Gradually add the buttermilk, then scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Carefully and slowly pour in the hot water or coffee and mix until the batter is uniform. Using hot water or coffee helps “bloom” the cocoa powder, ultimately enhancing its flavor.
- Divide the cake batter between your pans (you can use either 8 or 9 inch pans) and bake. Pull the cakes out when a toothpick test shows moist crumbs to avoid a dry cake.
Make the Frosting
- Let the cakes cool completely before covering with frosting. While they cool, prepare the frosting.
- Melt the white chocolate in the microwave until smooth. Remember to do this slowly and stir well in between, or your chocolate could seize and you’ll need to start over. Let the chocolate cool to the touch.
- Beat the butter until creamy and fluffy, then stir in the cooled melted chocolate until incorporated.
- Slowly stir in the powdered sugar with the mixer on low speed until everything is smooth and combined. Scrape the bowl, then stir in the extracts and salt until incorporated.
Prepare the Ganache
- Heat the cream until it begins to steam, then pour it over your chopped chocolate (make sure the chocolate is in a heatproof bowl!). Cover the bowl with foil and let it sit undisturbed for a few minutes.
- Remove the foil and whisk until smooth. Let this sit for a few minutes to cool and thicken up before pouring into a squeeze bottle.
Decorate the Cake
- Frost the cake layers with your buttercream, then place the cake in the fridge to chill.
- Add ganache drips around the cake, then fill in the top with more ganache. If you’ve never done this before, check out my tutorial on how to do a ganache drip. Let this firm up in the fridge for a few minutes.
- Pipe decorative frosting swirls on top of the ganache and finish with crushed peppermint candies if desired.
SAM’S TIP: While I’m using three 9″ pans here, this peppermint bark cake can be made in 8″ pans or a single 9×13″ cake pan. I provide baking times for all versions in the recipe notes below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, like most cakes, this peppermint bark cake freezes well! Just make sure to wrap it tightly with plastic wrap (and maybe foil too, just to be safe!) before storing in an airtight, freezer-safe container or ziploc bag. You can freeze this cake in slices or as a whole.
If you plan to enjoy your cake within two days of baking, you can let it sit at room temperature. Otherwise, I recommend refrigerating. Note that while the fridge does tend to dry out cakes, since we used oil in ours, it will stay moist for days–even in the fridge!
Absolutely! I’m not sure of a bake time, but I would think they would take around 17 minutes or so as cupcakes. If you try this, I’d love to know how it goes for you!
This cake is so perfect for the holidays–I hope you get a chance to make it this year!
Peppermint Bark Cake
For the cake
- 1 ¾ cup (220 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (75 g) dark cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter melted
- ⅔ cup (155 ml) neutral cooking oil vegetable, canola, or avocado oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (236 ml) buttermilk
- ½ cup (118 ml) very hot or boiling water or coffee
For the frosting
For the ganache
- 4 oz (113 g) semisweet or dark chocolate chopped
- ½ cup (118 ml) heavy cream
- 3 9” cake pans
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and grease and flour three 9” (23cm) round cake pans (or spray with baking spray). Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper round (to insure against sticking). Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.1 ¾ cup (220 g) all-purpose flour, 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, ¾ cup (75 g) dark cocoa powder, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda, ¾ teaspoon table salt
- Add butter, and oil, stirring until completely combined.½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, ⅔ cup (155 ml) neutral cooking oil
- Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir until batter is uniform2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Slowly add buttermilk, stirring to combine. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated.1 cup (236 ml) buttermilk
- Slowly (and carefully) add hot water, stirring until batter is smooth and uniform.½ cup (118 ml) very hot or boiling water or coffee
- Evenly divide batter between cake pans. Transfer to 350F (175C) oven and bake for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edge and carefully inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely. While cakes are cooling, prepare your frosting.
For the frosting
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl, heat chopped chocolate for 30 seconds. Stir well, then return to the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and completely smooth. Allow chocolate to cool for 15 minutes and it is no longer warm to the touch.12 oz (350 g) white chocolate bars
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until it is creamy and well-whipped.2 cups (453 g) unsalted butter
- Add (cooled) melted chocolate and stir well.
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined.4 cups (500 g) powdered sugar
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula and add peppermint extract, vanilla extract, and salt and stir until combined and frosting is smooth.2 ½ teaspoon peppermint extract, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, ⅛ teaspoon salt
For the ganache
- Place chopped chocolate in a medium sized heat-proof bowl. Set aside.4 oz (113 g) semisweet or dark chocolate
- In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium-low heat just until cream begins to steam. Immediately remove from heat and pour evenly over chocolate. Cover bowl with foil and let sit for 5 minutes.½ cup (118 ml) heavy cream
- After 5 minutes, remove foil cover and whisk thoroughly until chocolate is smooth. Allow to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before pouring into a squeeze bottle for decorating the cake.
- Once cake has cooled completely, frost each layer evenly with prepared frosting. Evenly frost the outside of the cake and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Reserve some frosting for piping on top of cake.
- After 15 minutes, remove cake from refrigerator, hold the bottle of ganache vertically and drip chocolate around the edge of the cake, going all the way around the cake. Take remaining ganache and cover the top with a thin even layer so it is evenly covered (you may not use all of the ganache). I do have a tutorial on how to do a ganache drip.
- Set cake back in fridge for 15-20 minutes to allow ganache to become firm.
- After ganache has firmed, remove cake. Place reserved frosting in a piping bag with a closed-star tip ( I use Ateco 846 or 848). Pipe swirls on top of firm ganache along the top edge of the cake. If desired, sprinkle with crushed peppermint.Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies
- Serve and enjoy!
Baking in different sized pansCake may be baked in the following sized pans for the following time (regardless of pan size, bake on 350F/175C). Use the toothpick test to assess doneness (toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with moist crumbs but no wet batter). Note that dark pans tend to take less time and light-colored pans tend to take more time. Glass pans take the longest and will take longer than indicated below. Three 8” pans: Cake will take slightly longer to bake than indicated in recipe, begin checking at 24 minutes. Two 9” pans: Bake 27-30 minutes. Two 8” pans: Bake 35-40 minutes One 13×9 pan: Bake 32-35 minutes
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This cake may also be frozen. Wrap tightly and it will keep for several months in the freezer.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.