My daughter has a December birthday, and every year she begs for a candy cane cake. I’ve indulged her each time, not only because a pink cake dusted with candy cane sparkles is much easier to decorate than an elaborate Barbie-in-a-dress-cake, but also because I can’t get enough of chocolate and mint. I’ve tinkered a bit with the recipe over the years; I’ve tried different cake bases and different cake and frosting combinations and have finally settled on the best mix of them. Our family favorite chocolate cake baked as cupcakes, topped with peppermint frosting and crushed candy canes was clearly the winner. This is a birthday (and holiday) tradition I’m happy to keep.
You can use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe here; I love Ina Garten’s chocolate cake recipe. Baked as cupcakes, it makes 24. The batter is very liquidy, so I use a measuring cup to pour it into the cupcake liners.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon mint [or peppermint] extract, more or less to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pink food coloring, optional (I used two tiny drops of pink)
- 3 cups [12 ounces] powdered sugar
- 5 candy canes, crushed
Place the candy canes in a Ziplock bag, and using a rubber mallet or the bottom of a glass, gently crush the canes into small pieces. Set aside.
Beat the butter, cream, vanilla, salt, and food coloring (if using) together on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, slowly add the powdered sugar, and beat until incorporated and smooth, 4-6 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5-10 minutes.
Enjoy your yummy, minty, wintry treat!