Merry merry! I’m here to wish you happy holidays. I’m also here to offer a recipe that’s too festive not to be making this week: chocolate peppermint bundt cake. But let me pause here and defend this cake’s rightful place in your kitchen year-round. I appreciate eating seasonally (and that’s a topic for an entirely separate set of musings), but that’s an ethos to follow when you’re thinking about buying ingredients: strawberries in summer, kale and potatoes in winter, and so on. But SPOILER ALERT I am about to let you in on a little secret that will set you free (kidding, hyperbole) and open new worlds (and by ‘new worlds’ I mean ‘lots of pints of Americone Dream’).
Here it is: seasonality in dessert doesn't have to be a thing! You can eat ice cream in the frigid depths of winter! Love gingerbread? Bake it in August! Eat it with fresh blueberries! Peppermint and chocolate are so darn good together that we really shouldn’t wait around until December to cram in mint sandwich cookies and peppermint bark brownies and so on. If you like it, have it. Whenever you want. Full stop.
(Although as I write this, I’m considering the merits of delayed gratification. There is something to be said for saving—and savoring—a few special things for special occasions. Pancakes on Sundays or cinnamon rolls at Christmastime or pastry cream-stuffed eclairs only when you visit Paris and are lounging on the manicured lawns of the Jardin du Luxembourg with a cold bottle of Champagne and someone you like very much. Oh wait. Sorry. I just drifted off into a reverie there wherein I’m Ina Garten and Jeffrey has whisked me away on a European vacation. Apologies. Where were we?)
Cake! Of course. My main point here is to encourage you to bake this cake because it is wonderfully festive. And if you’re spending the holiday somewhere with lots of family and friends filling the house, it’s a really nice thing for a crowd—one, because it’s a rather large dessert and two, because I rarely meet anyone who isn’t overjoyed with a slice of this.
And my second point is to encourage you to bake it now so that you can fall in love with it (you’re welcome to put on some Marvin Gaye as you bake it—because you will feel all the dreamy feelings about this cake), and then make it all year round. And if you really just can’t get behind a frosted peppermint and chocolate cake in summertime or springtime, despite my arguments for it, you can simply swap out the mint.
I, however, am a fiend for peppermint and chocolate. I spent my summers at a camp on the shores of Lake Morey in Vermont—once a summer, parents’ weekend would roll around. To celebrate it and welcome the visiting parents, the dining hall would serve cups of peppermint stick ice cream doused in thick hot fudge after lunch. I’d take my cup out onto the wraparound porch, slouch in an Adirondack chair and watch the sailboats in the distance, savoring each bite and thinking that little could be nicer than that dessert in that place at that time.
The cake—which is adapted from one of my favorite King Arthur bundt recipes—is incredibly moist and dense with a very tender, close crumb. It’s just as nice on its own as it is glazed; a slice with a little loosely whipped cream would be excellent. You could try a different glaze too: I love the idea of a malted chocolate glaze on it, and then you could top it with crushed malt balls! How’s that for living your best life?
Tips: I use Dutch-process cocoa for the cake (actually, most often I use the triple cocoa blend from King Arthur because it has both Dutch and non-dutched, so it works in recipes calling for either, so that’s what I mostly keep in my pantry! But you can use either in this recipe and it’ll work fine as there’s both baking powder and baking soda in it so it won’t affect the leavening , but if you have or can get Dutch-process cocoa, that is ideal because it has a richer chocolate flavor.
Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake
For the cake
1 cup (227g) hot brewed coffee
16 tablespoons (1 cup, 227g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (64g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups (397g) sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (241g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (113g) sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
For the glaze
1 1/2 cups (170g) confectioners’ sugar (sift if lumpy)
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons milk
crushed peppermint candy or candy canes, for finishing
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-cup Bundt pan very thoroughly.
Whisk together the coffee, butter, and cocoa powder in a saucepan set over medium and cook until the butter melts, whisking until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Add the chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, eggs, and sour cream (or yogurt). Fold this into the batter and stir until smooth and well-incorporated; don’t overmix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then flip it out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling while you make the glaze.
To make the glaze: Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, peppermint extract, and milk. Add a bit more milk if you need to make it more pourable. Pour/drizzle over the cake, then sprinkle it generously with crushed peppermint candy.