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Devil’s Food Cake with Peppermint Frosting


As soon as I saw this cake on the cover of the December 2008 issue of Bon Appetit, I couldn’t wait to make it.  It wasn’t even a week after the magazine arrived in the mail that I set out to make it.  Unfortunately, this time it was a disaster.  Once I cut into the cake, it fell apart and the layers slid everywhere.  I was so upset because I wanted to make this cake so badly, and I was already having a stressful week and that was so not what I needed.

I was determined to redeem myself for this awful cake attempt.  I took a few notes as to what went wrong, and made some big improvements the next time.  There were a few mistakes that I made, but a few were due to the recipe.  The recipe says that you can chill the chocolate ganache as long as you bring it to room temperature about 30 minutes before you’re ready to use it.  Totally not true.  I brought the ganache out about 2 hours before I needed it and it was still a cold block of chocolate.  I reheated it on the stove, but it didn’t really help and it ruined the delicate cake layers.  Next time I made it right before I needed it and that was perfect.  The second change I made had to do with the white chocolate cream.  The recipe calls for way more cream than you need, which caused the cake layers to slide.  That’s a big problem when you have 4 cake layers- they layers were way too heavy.  The next time I made it, I made half the recipe of white chocolate cream and it was the perfect amount.  I filled the layers with the white chocolate cream and chocolate ganache and chilled it overnight to make sure it stayed in place.  The next day, I frosted the cake with the peppermint frosting and chilled it for several hours so it would set.  The frosting came together with no problem, but I would definitely recommend getting out a hand mixer to beat it rather than doing it by hand.  I was whisking away and asked my husband to take over for a minute so my arms could rest, and he came up with the suggestion to use the hand mixer.  Brilliant man I married 🙂


I was happy that I persevered and did not give up on this cake.  It turned out great.  This would be a great Christmas dessert if you’re looking for one.  I loved the flavors together.  The chocolate ganache and white chocolate cream filling were great between the layers and it’s hard to beat that frosting.  I’ve made frosting very similar to that before and I love it every time!  It’s so fluffy and delicious.  David said the cake looked like a giant marshmallow 🙂  If you have the chance to make this cake, you definitely should!


Devil’s Food Cake with Peppermint Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appetit December 2008



  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 cups ice water

Dark chocolate ganache

  • 1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 14 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

white chocolate cream

  • 12 oz high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), finely chopped
  • 3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract

peppermint frosting

  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • Bittersweet chocolate curls



  • Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Dust pans with flour; tap out excess. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in yolk. Add cocoa and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with ice water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until just blended and smooth after each addition. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops.
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil; store at room temperature.

Dark chocolate ganache

  • Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Before using, let stand at room temperature until soft enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

white chocolate cream

  • Place white chocolate in large heatproof bowl. Bring 1 cup cream to simmer in saucepan. Pour hot cream over white chocolate. Let stand 1 minute; whisk until smooth. Whisk in extract. Cover; chill until mixture thickens and is cold, at least 4 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.
  • Add 2 cups chilled cream to white chocolate cream and beat until smooth and peaks form. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk to thicken, if necessary, before using.
  • Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer on platter, cut side up. Spread 1/3 of dark chocolate ganache over cake. Spoon 2 cups white chocolate cream in dollops over cake; spread evenly to edges. Top with second cake layer, cut side down; spread 1/3 of ganache over, then 2 cups white chocolate cream. Repeat with third cake layer, cut side up, remaining ganache, and remaining cream. Cover with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Chill while preparing frosting.

peppermint frosting

  • Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water, egg whites, and corn syrup in large bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer. Whisk by hand to blend well. Set bowl with mixture over saucepan of gently simmering water; whisk constantly with hand whisk until mixture resembles marshmallow creme and ribbons form when whisk is lifted, 8 to 9 minutes. Whisk in peppermint extract. Remove bowl from over water and attach bowl to heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until mixture is barely warm to touch and very thick, 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Using offset spatula and working quickly, spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle chocolate curls over top and sides. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill.


18 Responses

  1. I’ve never made that kind of icing before! Now I want to try it. Good for you for making the cake again and figuring out how to make it work. I’m not sure I would’ve done that.. The cake looks so gorgeous though! Well worth your effort.

  2. Wow, I like your dedication. This cake looks awesome and you won me over with peppermint frosting. Yum!

  3. Beauuuuutiful! We get Gourmet at the library and it’s position on the shelf is at eye level. This cake has been staring at me all month! I’m so glad it turned out absolutely beautiful! Thanks for the helpful hints too!!!

  4. Wouldn’t you think they’d test everything out before they printed it in the magazine? Leave it to people like us to find their mistakes! 🙂 It looks absolutely gorgeous!

  5. Great job troubleshooting this recipe Erin.

  6. Wow, what an amazing looking cake! Excellent job.

  7. This looks amazing…. all the layers of chocolate cake, ganache and the frosting looks so delicious!

  8. I am so impressed with your corrections!

  9. Cake looks perfect. You did great.

  10. Gorgeous! I am sure it tasted perfect for Christmas!

  11. I tore that recipe out of my magazine – but I haven’t had an excuse to make it yet. Thanks for all the tips!

  12. What a great idea! YUMMMM!

  13. Wow look at all those layers! You have way more patience than i do! Looks great!

  14. wow, you are the layer cake master! i wish i could get my layer cakes to look so nice!

  15. […] Cake with Peppermint Frosting as seen on Dinner and Dessert adpated from Bon […]

  16. I just found your blog and I had to laugh as I read this post! I also tried this recipe out (for my office Christmas party) and had the EXACT same troubles you did – chocolate ganache became solid in the fridge, layers slipped every which way, etc.

    After reading your “fixes” I think I might give it another go, because the flavor was soooo good!


  17. I also made the exact same mistakes you did on the first attempt. Chocolate ganache hard as a rock, to much white chocolate filling, arms about to fall off (this time is was my Mom that suggested the hand mixer), etc. Like you I perservered and made a second one — this time making the white chocolate filling first, then the cake, and after the cake cooled, the chocolate ganache. Again, great minds think alike, I didn’t frost the cake until the next day after it spent the night in the fridge. Turned out great. My only regret is not reading your blog first.

  18. […] Devil’s Food Cake with Peppermint Frosting at Dinner & […]

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