This 6 inch Single Layer Peppermint Chocolate Cake recipe gives you a moist and chocolatey, peppermint-flavored cake! Enjoy it with this light and refreshing peppermint swiss meringue buttercream for the ultimate chocolate-peppermint combo!
Table of Contents
Why This Recipe Works
- It's easy to make!
- Yields just 1, 6 inch single layer chocolate peppermint cake—perfect for up to 4 people (or 6 if everyone is cool with only 2 slice).
- Moist and tender in texture
- Full of chocolate and peppermint flavor in each bite.
- Pair it with this peppermint swiss meringue buttercream for the ultimate chocolate-peppermint flavor combo.
- It's a wonderful after dinner treat for an intimate dinner, birthday, small dinner party, or a really nice way to treat yourself!
- You can top it with crushed candy cane bits or these cute candy cane hearts!
This single layer chocolate peppermint cake is adapted from my single layer chocolate cake recipe and the last one to be added to my recipe box for 2021! It is a really easy cake to make and when paired with this small batch peppermint swiss meringue buttercream, you have a really nice refreshing holiday dessert!
Let's Talk Ingredients
You'll need the following basic ingredients for this chocolate peppermint cake recipe:
- All-Purpose Flour. My favorite all-purpose flour to use is King Arthur Flour, but use what you have on hand.
- Sugars. You'll need granulated sugar and light brown sugar for this recipe. The light brown sugar should be lightly packed (if using measuring cups).
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. I used Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, but you can also use their special dark cocoa powder as well.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda. Make sure they're still fresh and haven't expired.
- Salt. Just a pinch or ⅛ teaspoon is needed.
- Egg. Just one is needed, and at room temperature is best!
- Whole Milk. You could also use 1%, 2%, or lactose-free milk.
- Vegetable Oil. This gives the chocolate a little more of that moist consistency.
- Peppermint Extract. Don't confuse this with mint extract—that is the flavor of mint tea. The extract should say peppermint on it!
- Hot Water. It should be hot to the touch, but not boiling.
I did not test this recipe using any alternative flours, dairy, oil, sugar, cocoa powders, or egg substitutes.
Buttercream Frosting Alternatives
Love the chocolate peppermint cake, but not crazy about the small batch peppermint swiss meringue buttercream? Give any of these other alternatives a try!
- Milk Chocolate Frosting
- Vanilla Buttercream
- Vanilla Flour (Ermine) Buttercream
- Chocolate Buttercream
- Dark Chocolate Ganache (halve this recipe to work with this chocolate peppermint cake)
- Powdered Sugar or Cocoa Powder - a simple dusting over the top of your single layer chocolate peppermint cake with either one of these will make for a lighter treat to enjoy!
The Best Baking Tools
Here are just a few baking tools I recommend when making any of my single layer cakes! Scroll through the carousel below for more!
- 6 inch Cake Pan. My go-to 6 inch cake pan for my most recent single-layer cakes is my 6 inch by 3 inch cake pan. If you only have a 6 inch by 2 inch tall pan, this will work fine, but know the cake may come up to the edge of the pan.
- Mixing Bowls. Works well for the dry ingredients and wet.
- Whisks and Spatulas. Always good to have a few of these on hand while you bake this pumpkin cake! I swear by GIR whisks and spatulas. They also make spoonulas which are a combination of a spatula and a spoon. I love them when using cake batters!
How to Make Candy Cane Hearts
These easy-to-make candy cane hearts make a super cute cake garnish or a fun treat to share over the holidays.
You can make as many or as little candy cane hearts as you would like! For this single layer chocolate peppermint cake recipe, I made a total of nine.
Here's how to make them!
Preheat your oven. You do not need your oven to be super hot to form the candy cane hearts, so preheat your oven temperature to 225ºF. Adjust your oven rack to the middle rack too.
When prepping your baking sheet, I recommend using a silicone baking mat. If you do not have one, parchment paper will work okay but may stick a little when removing it after they've cooled.
Form the candy cane hearts. Unwrap the mini candy canes from their wrappers. I found the ones that are in a loose wrapper versus the ones that are tightly wrapped are easier to handle and weren't as broken up.
I found my mini canes at Target.
Heat the mini candy canes. They only need to be heated for 5 minutes. This will be enough time to gently push them together without burning your fingers. Let them cool completely before adding the melted chocolate. They'll cool within just a few minutes.
Melt the chocolate chips. I used good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli) which melted perfectly with the coconut oil. You can also use a little bit of vegetable shortening if you do not have coconut oil.
Fill in the hearts then add the sprinkles. I found that using a spoon or a decorating bottle (from Wilton) did just fine when filling in each candy cane heart. After filling each heart, gently shake the baking sheet side to side to level out the chocolate. Top each one with some holiday themed sprinkles. Mine are from Sprinkle Pop Shop!
Cool to set. You can place the baking sheet into either the freezer or refrigerator to let the chocolate set. Once set, you can either keep them stored in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator with a layer of wax paper in between them or you can place them into candy bags.
Yes, absolutely! Any part of this recipe (the cake, buttercream, or candy hearts garnish) can be made in advance.
The chocolate peppermint cake can be made up to 2 months in advance when properly stored in the freezer. The swiss meringue buttercream can be made 2-3 days in advance when kept tightly covered in the refrigerator. The candy cane hearts can be made up to a month when properly stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
For helpful tips on how to freeze your single layer cake, visit my single layer chocolate cake recipe post.
I have both the 6 inch x 2 inch and the 6 inch x 3 inch cake pans, but recommend the latter.
No, you do not have to. Sometimes I use them, other times I gently tap the cake pan on the counter to release any of the air bubbles within the batter which seems to help keep the cake layer relatively flat on top.
Yes, you can use either for a garnish.
I put the candy canes in a ziploc bag then broke them up into the bits with a meat tenderizer. You can also use a rolling pin or heavy serving spoon.
Enjoy More Single Layer Cakes from Beyond the Butter!
Single Layer Chocolate Peppermint CakeAuthor:
6 inch single layer chocolate peppermint cake
- ½ cup All-Purpose Flour
- ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
- ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar, lightly packed
- ¼ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- 1 Large Egg
- ¼ cup Whole Milk
- 2 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- ½ teaspoon Peppermint Extract
- 2 tablespoon Hot Water
- ½ cup Mini Candy Canes, crushed (for cake garnish)
small batch peppermint swiss meringue buttercream
- 3 Large Egg Whites
- ⅔ cup Granulated Sugar
- ¾ cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature and cut into 1 tablespoon size pieces
- ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
candy cane hearts
- 18 Mini Candy Canes, unwrapped
- ¾ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, melted
- 2 teaspoon Coconut Oil
- Holiday Themed Sprinkles
6 inch single layer chocolate cake
- Adjust your oven rack to the 2nd level position (just above center) and preheat your oven to 350ºF. Generously spray a 6 inch cake pan with a flour based baking spray or grease and flour. If you choose, you can also add a 6 inch parchment paper circle to the bottom of the pan as well. Set to the side.
- With a small mixing bowl and a whisk, blend together the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set to the side.½ cup All-Purpose Flour, ¼ cup Granulated Sugar, ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar, ¼ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, ½ teaspoon Baking Soda, ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- In a separate medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and hot water.1 Large Egg, ¼ cup Whole Milk, 2 tablespoon Vegetable Oil, ½ teaspoon Peppermint Extract, 2 tablespoon Hot Water
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together until just combined. Be careful not to over mix the cake batter.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25-28 minutes at 350ºF or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the cake pan for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar or frost with this small batch peppermint swiss meringue buttercream, then top with the crushed candy cane bits.½ cup Mini Candy Canes
small batch peppermint swiss meringue buttercream (optional)
- Place the egg whites and granulated sugar in a glass or metal mixing bowl (either one that is stand alone or part of a stand mixer), and set over a pot that is filled with 1"-2" of simmering water.3 Large Egg Whites, ⅔ cup Granulated Sugar
- Whisk continuously until the mixture reaches 150ºF and/or the sugar has completely dissolved. You can check this by taking a small amount of the egg white mixture, rubbing it between two fingers. It should be smooth and not gritty in texture.
- Carefully remove the mixing bowl from the simmering pot, wipe the bottom off with a towel, and beat the egg white mixture using a hand mixer or your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high to high speed until it forms the stiff meringue peaks and (this is important) the bottom of the mixing bowl is cool to the touch. This can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
- Begin to add the butter one piece at a time, allowing each piece to fully absorb into the meringue mixture. If it looks mushy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed.¾ cup Unsalted Butter
- After you've added in all of the butter, switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment, add in the peppermint extract and salt, then mix anywhere from 5-10 minutes. The meringue buttercream is ready when it is nice and smooth in texture.⅛ teaspoon Salt, 1 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
- Frost your cake once it's completely cooled.
candy cane hearts garnish
- Adjust your oven rack to the middle or center rack then preheat the oven to 225ºF. Add a silicone baking mat or parchment paper to a baking sheet.
- Unwrap the mini candy canes then match 2 together to form a heart shape. Place into the oven to warm the candy canes for 5 minutes.18 Mini Candy Canes
- Remove from the oven and carefully push the candy canes together at each end. Let them cool completely before transferring them to a baking sheet with wax paper. If the candy canes come apart you can reheat them for 5 minutes in the oven.
- Transfer the cooled candy cane hearts to a wax paper lined baking sheet. Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwaveable safe bowl for 1 minute at full power. Stir, then heat again for 30-45 seconds. Stir once more until the chocolate is fully melted with the coconut oil.¾ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, 2 teaspoon Coconut Oil
- Carefully spoon the melted chocolate into the centers of each candy cane hearts, then top with a few holiday sprinkles. Place into the freezer or refrigerator to let the candy cane hearts set.Holiday Themed Sprinkles
- Candy cane hearts can be used as a garnish for cake or can be placed in candy bags to give out for the holidays!