Chocolate-Peppermint Cake

chocolate cake with peppermint frosting

My go-to chocolate cake is from the ancient days of the Food Network, when it was located in Long Island (instead of Chelsea Market in Manhattan), and AOL was synonymous with the Internet. Actually, back in the 90s, you could request recipes by sending a SASE envelope to their offices (in case you didn’t have Internet access). It only took two months before you received the recipe in the mail.

Nowadays, you can look up any recipe on your phone while you’re standing in line at the grocery store, but this recipe still has its charm. It’s everything you’d want in a chocolate cake: rich, moist, dark, and airy. It’s just like the cake mix but better. I’ve updated this classic and added peppermint frosting for the holidays.

Psst! Still figuring out what to give people this year? Here’s dozens of ideas for homemade gifts.

Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Cake adapted from the Food Network’s “How to Boil Water,” hosted by Sean Donnellan; frosting inspired by The 1997 Joy of Cooking

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil, preferably expeller pressed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
A couple drops of red food coloring (optional)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil, or to taste
A couple tablespoons milk, as needed

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare one 9-inch cake pan or bundt pan by spreading it with butter, dusting it with flour, and tapping out the extra.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla on medium speed with a hand mixer, until well mixed. Slowly add the boiling water and mix. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, just until smooth.

Pour batter into pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter on low speed until fluffy, then gradually add the powdered sugar and salt. As soon as it’s incorporated, increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Add the food coloring if desired, or set aside a portion to color, so you can pipe a candy stripe design. With a rubber spatula, mix in the peppermint oil (do not use the electric mixer, as it will cause the aroma to dissipate). If needed, thin out the frosting with one tablespoon of milk at a time.

Frost cake: Place the cake on a platter and using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly on top, 1/2″ thick. To create the candy stripe design, fill a ziptop bag with half a cup of red frosting, and cut a very small corner off the tip of the bag (when in doubt, but a smaller hole than you think you need; you can always make it bigger if you have to). Pipe red stripes across the cake, 3/4″ apart. Drag a toothpick through the stripes to create the swirled design.

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  1. LimeCake said,

    That cake looks dark and delicious! Love the peppermint icing with it! Is the oil missing from the cake recipe? I’d love to try this.

    December 26, 2010 at 9:18 pm

  2. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said,

    LimeCake, there’s no peppermint oil in the cake. It’s just a chocolate cake with peppermint frosting. Your blog is very cool! Can’t wait to try the pecan praline recipe.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:58 am

  3. Danabee said,

    Hee hee… I think LimeCake means that the veg oil is not mentioned in the directions for mixing the cake. I am guessing it goes in with the eggs, etc. Whipping this up now for my 14YO son’s BDay cake. Chocolate/mint is his favorite combo. Thanks for the recipe!

    January 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm

  4. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said,

    Danabee, oops, you’re right! I corrected the recipe: the vegetable oil goes in with the eggs. Hope your son like the cake!

    January 8, 2011 at 8:21 pm

  5. Danabee said,

    Update: Killer cake! Killer frosting! Everyone loved it. This is definitely a keeper. I upped the extract in the frosting to more like 3/4tsp. A very nice sweet frosting to go with the not too sweet cake. I can see making this, without frosting, as just an “everyday” cake. Though I think I will buy a 9 x 3 pan. My 9 x 2 was not quite tall enough. This lovely cake seemed to want something a little taller. Thanks again!

    January 9, 2011 at 9:46 pm

  6. vanillasugarblog said,

    so here i landed (from anna’s blog) on my quest to make a peppermint cheesecake. i had no idea you were a levain clone baker addict too. ha, did i say that right?
    have to get caught up on the reads on levain here. wonderful blog you’ve got going here.

    January 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

  7. Biz said,

    this is the best chocolate cake EVER. not heavy, not dry, fluffy and moist. Good good stuff. caused the room full of my very loud family to be silent for a few blessed minutes.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:16 am