Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting and Peppermint Chocolate Ganache

Ok, let’s get the bad news out of the way right at the outset: Christmas is over.  I KNOW.  But hey, there’s a silver lining: only 359 days til Christmas!

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This, all the time, forever and ever amen.  Please and thank you.

I love Christmas.  Like, a lot.  I’m one of those people.  And I’m not even a little bit ashamed of it.  As a (very) lapsed Presbyterian, it’s not so much about religion for me as it is a reminder that there’s nothing more important in this world than being kind to each other.  Peak warm fuzzies is the last five minutes of a Christmas Eve service, holding a candle high and singing “Silent Night,” thinking about how lucky I have been in life and how badly I want to help every single person in the world feel loved and safe.  I’m coming down with a case of the warm fuzzies just thinking about it, so we’d best be moving on.

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I’m also a fan of this kind of “warm fuzzy,” who feels the need to stand against me whenever I’m at the stove. I’d like to think it’s because she loves me and misses me when I’m away, but we both know it’s really about the potential for spilled food.

I may not be able to wrap my arms around the world, but at Christmastime I’m lucky enough to be able to wrap my arms around most (if not all) of my family, and that’s pretty darn special.  Unfortunately for them, the kind of food I like to make during the holidays is the kind of food that runs the risk of making it harder to wrap my arms around them, but they put up with me anyway 😉 This year, I was tasked with making dessert for Christmas dinner, and I took the task of adding to our collective hibernation layer veryyyy seriously.

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Oh, did you need help keeping yourself warm this winter? Lemme help ya out…

Chocolate is nice.  Peppermint is nice.  Cake is nice.  So why not make them all happen at once?  Making this cake is just a matter of assembling a few easy components, but it looks like it’s hard work, and its mintiness makes it feel appropriately wintry.

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You’ll have your friends and family (and maybe some fauna) eating out of the palm of your hands.  Oh my god I’m so sorry that was terrible.  But look how cute this lil chickadee is!

Christmas may be over, but we’ve got many more weeks of winter (ugh) before that sly minx Punxsatawney Phil shows his face, so bake a treat for someone you love and hide out with them til our long national nightmare is over.

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What happens when you assume your mom’s cake pans are as fully nonstick as your own. What’s that saying about when you assume again?

Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting and Peppermint Chocolate Ganache

  • Your favorite chocolate cake recipe (I used a box mix; no shame in the game, friends)

Evenly divide your cake batter into two appropriately lined/buttered and floured round cake pans; bake according to directions.  Set on a wire rack to cool COMPLETELY.  Do you want a melted frosting mess?  No you do not.  Don’t get impatient and frost before those cake babies are dead cold.  I know of what I speak.

Easy Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 T. Unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
  • Confectioner’s sugar (at least 3 cups)
  • Whole milk (at least 1/2 cup)
  • Splash of peppermint extract

Beginning with 1 c. of confectioner’s sugar, cream butter and sugar together.  Alternately add splashes of milk and small amounts of confectioner’s sugar until desired consistency and amount of frosting is reached.  Mix in peppermint extract to desired taste.  (Hint: start small– this extract packs a powerful punch, and it’s MUCH easier to add more than to take it out!)

Peppermint Ganache

  • 1/2 c. Heavy cream
  • 4 oz. Semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Splash of peppermint extract

Place chocolate in a bowl.  Heat cream in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.  Stir in peppermint extract (again, start small), then pour cream over chocolate.  Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Cool for just a few minutes (you want the ganache thin enough to pour over your cake, but not so thin that it runs right off).

Note: this recipe will make enough to cover the top of the cake and drip a bit down the sides, but if you want a ganache that covers the whole thing, double the recipe.

Assembly

  • 2-3 Candy canes, crushed

Place bottom cake layer on serving platter and tuck wax paper under the cake’s edges.  Frost the top of the layer with peppermint buttercream.  Allow the buttercream to set a bit, so that when you add the top cake layer it doesn’t mush and look super sad.  (I did not do this, and my cake looked sort of tragic.  Learn from my mistakes.)  Once you’ve safely put your top layer in place, pour ganache over the top and use a knife or offset spatula to spread it out.  Your ganache will harden into a beautiful shiny surface and it will nearly break your heart to cut it, but you will have to find the strength to do so when the time comes, because you can’t eat the cake unless you do.  Top with crushed candy canes just before serving.  Don’t do it sooner because the candy canes will bleed and make a sad, goopy, Pepto-Bismol-colored mess.  Not that this happened to me, or anything.  Definitely not.  Remove wax paper, and place cake before your loved ones in a blaze of glory.

Ok, so…see you at the gym?  Yeah?  Yeah…

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