I love holiday baking and all the holiday flavors that come with it. Cue this peppermint mocha cake! It tastes just like a warm glass of holiday cheer.
It’s made with tender mocha cake layers, decadent white chocolate peppermint buttercream and a mocha ganache drip.
If you like peppermint and chocolate you’re going to love this cake!
Cake Flour vs. All-Purpose Flour
Now some of you might be asking, why use cake flour in this recipe?
Cake flour has less protein in it (usually 7-8%) than all-purpose flour (about 11%). Why does the protein content matter? Because this protein becomes gluten as you mix it with liquid.
More protein means more gluten, which means denser, chewier baked goods (think of a chewy loaf of sourdough bread).
Cake flour makes baked goods that are fluffier and lighter like angel food cake. They also give baked goods a finer crumb.
The frosting on this peppermint mocha cake is pretty rich so I wanted fluffier cake layers to help balance it all out.
Substitutions and Swaps
While I love making this peppermint mocha cake following the recipe below, I know you might not have all of the ingredients on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.
Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this recipe.
- Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the salted butter and omit the salt in this recipe. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
- Large eggs – You can also use 1 cup of egg whites or if you have an egg allergy you can use 4 flaxseed eggs.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – I prefer using regular baking cocoa, but you can also use Dutch-processed or black cocoa powder in this recipe.
- Hot Coffee – Any strong coffee will work, or you can mix 1 Tbsp of instant espresso or coffee into 1 cup of hot water. If you want to avoid a coffee flavor, you can also just use hot water.
- Buttermilk – You can also use full fat yogurt, sour cream, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
- Self-Rising Cake Flour – This recipe works best with self-rising cake flour, but you can make your own if needed! Please see the section below for instructions.
- Heavy Cream – You can also use whipping cream or coconut cream.
Why Self-Rising Cake Flour is Your Best Friend
As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of self-rising cake flour. Self-rising cake flour is pre-mixed, so salt and baking powder are already incorporated into the cake flour.
I love this because it helps you skip three steps. Rather than getting out all these ingredients and whisking them together, you just use 3 cups of your self-rising cake flour. Viola!
Surprisingly, my neighborhood grocery store only carries the self-rising type of cake flour. If you forgot to grab some at the store or can’t find any, don’t worry.
For every cup of self-rising flour that this recipe calls for, measure out 1 cup of cake flour, then add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder.
Or if you are more of a metrics person, here’s the same formula in grams:
Swap 100 grams of self-rising flour with 94 grams of cake flour, plus 5 1/2 grams baking powder and 1 gram salt.
Making This Peppermint Cake in Different Sizes
This recipe can also be used to make different sized cakes. You can also half or double the ingredients to make a half or double batch!
You can make four 6″ cake layers with one batch of batter. Bake the cake layers at 350 F / 175 C for 34-36 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
One batch of batter can also be used to make one 9×13-inch sheet cake. Bake it at 325 F for 40-50 minutes and use flower nails or heating cores to help the cake bake evenly.
You can also use this recipe to make a Bundt cake! Bake time can vary based on the size and type of pan you use and can take anywhere from 45-75 minutes.
I recommend using a toothpick to test for doneness and checking on it every 5-10 minutes once it’s been in the oven for 45 minutes.
The final variation of this recipe is cupcakes!! This recipe makes about 24 regular sized cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Tips for Making the Best Peppermint Mocha Cake
- Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale.
- Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to help them mix together better.
- Don’t over-mix your batter, stir until the cake flour is just combined.
- Don’t level your cake layers until they are completely cooled.
- Make sure your buttercream is the right consistency before frosting your cake! It will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.
- If your cake layers turn out less than perfect, I recommend reading my cake troubleshooting guide to see where things might’ve gone awry.
- Do a test drip to make sure your mocha ganache is the right temperature and thickness.
Making This Peppermint Mocha Cake in Advance and Storage Tips
- Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.
- Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
- A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
- If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Let Me Know What You Think
If you try this peppermint mocha cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets and use the #chelsweets!!
Also leave a comment below and a rating to let me know your thoughts.
Other Recipes You Might Like:
Mocha Cake Layers
- 1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp (226g)
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (500g)
- 4 large eggs, room temp (224g)
- 1 cup hot, strong coffee (240g)
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temp (240g)
- 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (80g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
- 3 cups self-rising cake flour (360g)
Peppermint White Chocolate Buttercream
- 1/3 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (80g)
- 1 cup white chocolate, finely chopped (175g)
- 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (452g; 1 lb. box)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (8g)
- 2 tsp peppermint extract (8g)
- 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
- 7 cups powdered sugar (907g; 2 lb. bag)
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped (88g)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (120g)
- 1 tsp instant espresso or coffee (2g)
- 3/4 cup crushed peppermint candies
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Mocha Cake Layers
- Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C and line four 7-inch or 8-inch pans with parchment rounds and spray with non-stick baking spray.
- Add 1 cup butter and 2 1/2 cups sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on high for 1 minute with a whisk attachment until the mixture becomes light in color.
- Add in 4 large eggs, two at a time. Mix on medium high until they're fully incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup of hot coffee, 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 cup of baking cocoa and 1 tsp of vanilla extract until no clumps remain.
- Next, mix 1 cup of self-rising cake flour into the butter/egg mixture on a low speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure the flour is fully incorporated.
- Pour in half of the buttermilk/cocoa mixture and mix on a low speed.
- Repeat with next cup of cake flour and the remaining cocoa mixture.
- Add in the last cup of self-rising cake flour and mix on low until the flour is just incorporated.
- Pour the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
- Let the cake layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes then run an offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the layers from the pans.
- Place the pans in the freezer for 30 minutes to speed the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
- Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers. If you're making these in advance, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them.
Peppermint White Chocolate Buttercream
- While the cake layers bake and cool, make the peppermint white chocolate buttercream.
- Place 1/3 cup heavy cream and 1 cup chopped white chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat in the microwave on a high power for 1 minute.
- Let the white chocolate / heavy cream mixture sit for 1 minute to allow the heat from the bowl to continue to melt the white chocolate.
- Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. If you have any bits of chocolate left, heat for additional 15 second increments and stir until the mixture is smooth.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, beat 2 cups of room temperature butter on a low speed for 30 seconds with a paddle or whisk attachment (or hand mixer) until smooth.
- Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp peppermint extract and 1/2 tsp salt and beat on low.
- Pour in the cooled white chocolate and heavy cream mixture and mix on a low speed.
- Slowly mix in 7 cups of powdered sugar on a low speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- Mix on a low speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
- If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
- Stir by hand with a rubber spatula to make the frosting extra smooth at the end, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Place 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
- Heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until gently bubbling. If you don’t have a microwave or prefer to use the stove top, you can heat the cream over a medium heat in a pan until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
- Gently pour the heavy cream over the chocolate, making sure it's fully covered with cream. Let the mixture sit for 1-2 minutes.
- Add in 1 tsp of instant coffee and stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are fully combined and mixture is smooth.
- Set aside and cool for about 20 minutes (or place in fridge for about 10 minutes), until the mixture is just slightly warm to the touch.
Assembling This Peppermint Mocha Cake:
- Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of buttercream to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
- Spread an even layer of frosting on top of each cake layer with a large offset spatula. Top with 1-2 Tablespoons of crushed peppermint candies and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips.
- Repeat with remaining cake layers.
- Once the cake layers are stacked, cover the cake in a thin coat of frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
- Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper.
- Add a ring of peppermint candies around the base of the cake then chill again until the frosting is firm to the touch.
- Use a spoon to add mocha drips around the top of the cake.
- Use the remaining frosting to pipe dollops on top of the cake and enjoy.
Making This Peppermint Mocha Cake in Advance
Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.
Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Amount Per Serving Calories 589Total Fat 34gSaturated Fat 20gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 112mgSodium 121mgCarbohydrates 70gFiber 1gSugar 67gProtein 3g