Candy Cane Crunch Cake
Moist peppermint chocolate cake filled with candy cane Swiss meringue buttercream and topped with dark chocolate peppermint glaze. This whimsical Candy Cane Crunch Cake is perfect for the holidays!
This recipe was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill.
The holiday season has always been magical to me. Despite the chaotic nature and occasional stress-inducing moments (have you met my family?), I look forward to this brief window of time each year.
Even though we are now scattered across the country, my sisters, brothers-in-law, nephew, and I always travel home to DC to celebrate the holidays with my parents. The house is full and there is never a dull moment. It’s a time to unplug, soak it all up, and celebrate traditions. Many old, some new, and a few slightly silly.
As one might guess in a food-obsessed family, most of these traditions take place around the table. The kitchen is constantly abuzz with the sounds of whirling stand mixers, simmering pots, beeping kitchen timers, humming dishwashers, and bossy cooks (raises hand sheepishly).
Today’s Candy Cane Crunch Cake is my latest addition to our ever-evolving holiday menu, and I’m certain you will love it as much as I do! It is festive, downright delicious, and just as much fun to make as it is to devour. It looks intimidating, but I’m going to walk you through the whole process.
The inspiration for this Candy Cane Crunch Cake came from those candy cane sandwich cookies that have made their way into my grocery shopping cart on more than one occasion this season. So simple, yet so addictive! I was able to pry my hands off of the latest box just long enough to brainstorm this cake and since nothing screams ‘happy holidays’ like candy canes, peppermint, and chocolate, it is no surprise that this cake incorporates all three!
Like all good desserts, this candy cane cake starts with a few simple ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, sugar, milk, and eggs. Small deviations make all the difference in flavor and consistency, so try to get your hands on the best that you can find. Leading up to the holidays, I always stock up on baking essentials, including several bags of all-purpose flour and other basics. There are so many distractions during the holiday season and there is nothing worse than running out of flour or having to go on last-minute grocery store runs!
My go-to is Bob’s Red Mill unbleached all purpose flour. It is versatile, reliable, and unlike other all-purpose flours, contains a touch of malted barley flour (which improves rise and browning of yeast breads!). My family uses it for everything from traditional sugar cookies to pumpkin muffins (these are requested each year), fruitcake (don’t knock it ’til you try it), buche de noel, and everything in between.
The cake itself is made up of three 8-inch layers of peppermint chocolate cake. Based on this fabulous London Fog cake, the chocolate cake batter calls for both oil and strongly-brewed coffee (if you’re not a coffee lover, don’t fret – you won’t taste it!), which produces an extra moist chocolate cake that holds up extremely well in the fridge.
It is filled with layers of candy cane Swiss meringue buttercream, aka. Swiss meringue buttercream infused with crushed candy canes and a touch of peppermint extract. It is as dreamy as it sounds, and has a lovely crunch that adds great texture to every bite. If you’ve never made Swiss meringue buttercream before, you’re in for a treat. Unlike traditional frostings, Swiss meringue buttercream is in a league of its own. It is the ultimate frosting for people that don’t normally like frosting.
The basic procedure involves heating egg whites and granulated sugar over a double-broiler until hot, beating the mixture over high speed until it reaches stiff peaks (hence the ‘meringue’ in the name), and slowly adding slightly softened butter until it is shiny, smooth, and airy! Despite taking more effort to throw together, I absolutely adore Swiss meringue buttercream. It’s classy and elegant. It also happens to be less sweet and significantly easier to work with than other frostings.
Once the cake has been frosted and chilled, the final touch is the addition of a dark chocolate peppermint glaze (adapted just slightly from my friend and cake inspiration guru Tessa Huff). I love the contrast between the dark chocolate drips and the white candy cane-flecked buttercream, as well as the additional burst of chocolate flavor. It gives the cake that extra wow factor!
The glaze itself is a simple ganache made with bittersweet chocolate, heavy cream, peppermint extract, and touch of corn syrup (to help thin it down for proper drizzling). For best results, allow the ganache to cool at least 5 to 10 minutes before glazing the chilled frosted cake. It should be slightly thick, but still be able to be drizzled from a spoon.
Before serving, top the candy cane crunch cake with halved candy cane sandwich cookies and crushed candy canes, or go wild with your imagination! Add a festive border of crushed candy canes to the bottom of the cake. Small peppermint meringues or store-bought peppermint bark would be great options too.
Winter wonderland in cake form. Let’s do this!
If you do not own three cake pan (I only own two), you can bake two layers at a time – and finish with one final layer. The batter will hold. Wash and cool the cake pan before using again with the remaining batter. The cake will keep in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 4 days; it may also be frozen. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Candy Cane Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Dark Chocolate Peppermint Glaze:
For the Cake:
For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream
For Cake Assembly:
For the Glaze:
For the Decoration:
Tips for Success:
If you do not own three cake pan (I only own two), you can bake two layers at a time – and finish with one final layer. The batter will hold. Wash and cool the cake pan before using again with the remaining batter. The cake will keep in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 4 days; it may also be frozen.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.