Candy Cane Peppermint Chocolate Cake

Happy Holidays everyone! Hope every is having a good winter break, or at least a good couple weeks of winter holidays. It’s a little colder here in the bay than in LA, which is surprisingly a welcome break from the monotony of the warm SoCal weather. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to wear shorts year round, but it is a little nice to break out those cozy winter sweaters that have been crammed into my bottom drawer all year. Although I’m sure in a week I’ll be ready to go back to sunny SoCal, but I’ll enjoy the chilliness while I’m here.

Anyway, I was in charge of making Christmas dinner this year, which was quite fun. I made sweet potato gnocchi, cheddar cheese bread, and a dish with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and caramelized onions with goat cheese that one of my roommates made for Thanksgiving. It was delicious, so I tried to replicate it for this dinner, and it turned out pretty well. However, what’s a Christmas dinner without dessert? Not much of one, obviously. My family loves chocolate, and winter holidays scream mint chocolate to me, so I decided to make this candy cane cake from Eat Live Run, with a few small modifications.

The result was a dense, fudgey cake, which a luscious chocolate ganache coating with crisp peppermint shards for garnish, and a lovely mint flavor throughout the cake and the ganache. I even made this in the toaster oven, to minimize energy usage, so that was a nice bonus, since it’s made in a loaf pan. I will say this was not the most moist cake I’ve ever made, but it was pretty delicious, and I love anything with chocolate mint, so I was pretty jazzed about it. It’s also possible I baked it a few minutes too long, which is why it was a little more dried out than I would like. Anyway, you can try it for yourself, here’s the recipe!

Candy Cane Peppermint Chocolate Cake

adapted from Eat Live Run

Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tsp peppermint extract

1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk

Ganache

1 cup bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips, but non-chip form will give you a smoother ganache)

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp peppermint extract

2 candy canes, crushed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325˚F and grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract until light and fluffy. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet alternately with the buttermilk and mix with a spatula until just combined. Do not overmix!

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, turning halfway through. Once a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 15-20 minutes. Loosen with a spatula then invert the cake out of the pan and place it on a plate or rack to cool completely, an hour or so.

Once the cake is cooled, prepare the ganache by bringing the cream to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and immediately add the chocolate, then stir until smooth. Add the peppermint extract and stir until well combined. Pour the ganache over the cake and spread into a smooth layer over the top and sides.

Crush the candy canes in a plastic bag with a meat mallet or with a rolling pin, then sprinkle over the cake. Allow to cool, so the ganache hardens into a thicker consistency. Slice and enjoy!

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