Thursday, January 1, 2015

winter wonderland chocolate peppermint cake

Desi and Lucy...
Mork and Mindy... 
Peanut butter and jelly... 

They just go together.  And in my opinion, chocolate and peppermint do as well.  I absolutely love the combo.  Love. It.

So does my dad.  

Poor thing has a birthday less than a week before Christmas, so he has jokingly commented about how it has always kind of gotten swept up into the holiday without much notice.  Years ago, I began making special cakes for him just so he'd know the day - and he - are special. Every year I try something different, although the base ingredient stays the same.  

I know I've mentioned it before, but Dad is a major chocolate fan, and I am my father's daughter.  So, truth be told, we've both been known to text one another when going through a DQ drive-thru... "Hey there.  Ordering a Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard and wishing you were here!"  

That kind of thing.

This year I wanted to try to blend two of Dad's favorite flavors together, but I didn't want the mint to override the chocolate, so I did a beefed up Devil's Food box mix, with a filling of rich chocolate buttercream between the layers, covered in a mint creamcheese icing.  I topped it off with peppermint "snow."  I was hoping for something to make it extra-special and wintry feeling.  The chopped candy cane and white chocolate did the trick.  I wish you could have seen it in person.  These pictures do not do it justice.

So this is a great way to use up leftover candy canes from the holidays, if you're searching. Actually, if I'm honest, I'm having a hard time letting go of the holidays.  I'm just not ready to say goodbye to Christmas 2014.  It seemed as though there was so much build-up and anticipation, and before I knew it, all had passed.  I am excited about the new year,though, and I'm hopeful for what God has in store for those I love.  He has been incredibly faithful and I am beyond blessed.

I am looking forward to another year of eating and sharing and comforting my family and friends with the gift of good food.  Happy 2015 to you and yours, and may God wrap you tightly in His unending love and mercy!

Now go eat cake.

Winter Wonderland Chocolate Peppermint Cake
For the Cake
  • 1 Devil's Food Cake box mix
  • 1 3.4 oz instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water or 1/2 cup warm coffee
~  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9-inch round pans with cooking spray and line 
    the bottom of each with a piece of parchment paper.  Spray paper.

~  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix on medium-high for 2 minutes.

~  Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center 
    comes out clean and cake springs back to touch, about 25-30 minutes.

~  Let cool in pans 10 minutes and remove to cool on racks completely.  

For the chocolate frosting
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk
~ In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy.

~ Gradually add cocoa and powdered sugar until mixed.  Add in vanilla and mix.

~  Pour in milk and combine, adding more milk until desired spreading consistency is 

For the cream cheese peppermint frosting
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tsp peppermint extract
~  In a large bowl, cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.

~  Add in sugar, one cup at a time, and mix until combined and fluffy.

~  Add in mint extract 1/2 tsp at a time until desired flavor is reached.

For the topping
  • 3 full-sized candy canes
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
~  Place both candies in chopper or food processor and pulse until chopped.  I preferred
    not to pulverize them and have some variation in the size of peppermint, but you can 
    do as you wish.  

To assemble cake:

~ Level off cooled cake rounds by using a large knife and slicing gently in a horizontal 
   direction.  Move one layer to cake plate.

~  Smooth a layer of chocolate frosting on top of bottom layer, making it as thick as 
    desired.  I had some left over to refrigerate and use another time.

~  Gently place second layer on top of frosting and apply a thin crumb layer of cream 
    cheese frosting on the top and sides of cake.  Follow with a full layer of icing,
    decorating as preferred.

~  Sprinkle top with white chocolate/candy cane mixture.

Cake recipe from My Baking Addiction.  Chocolate frosting recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen. Cream Cheese frosting recipe from Southern Living.