The Holiday’s and peppermint are the perfect match, and this Peppermint Mocha Mini Layer Cake celebrates both! Tender and moist chocolate cakes are layered with creamy chocolate filling and topped with peppermint marshmallow meringue – for the most festive 6-inch cake!
Peppermint Mocha Mini Layer Cake
I couldn’t let the holiday’s pass without a recipe containing peppermint. And given it is the time of year when every coffee house has the Peppermint Mocha Latte featured, I figure why not make a cake celebrating the flavors!
- Peppermint – the peppermint in this mini layer cake is in the meringue frosting. And of course, some festive crushed candy sprinkles on top.
- Mocha #1 – for the coffee part of the mocha, we get this from the piping hot brewed coffee in the cake. I recommend a medium brew. So you get a hint of the coffee flavor. Plus, coffee amps up the cocoa flavor and the hot liquid makes the cake tender.
- Mocha #2 – the second part of chocolate is in the filling. A rich and creamy pudding filling to be exact. I mean, pudding layered between two chocolate cakes – come on, that’s fantastic!
Now, we take all that yummy and put it in a delicious 6-inch mini layer cake. I call that a festive Christmas dessert!
Peppermint Christmas Cake
One of the great things I love about holiday baking is the variety of flavors that evoke the season. I think peppermint lands close to the top of that list of flavors. For reasons that seem obvious, but in true form to the history lessons I like to provide with my creations, here is a fun read from Wiki.
When you pair peppermint and chocolate, something magical happens. At least for me. Chocolate is a wonderfully decadent flavor – especially in a super moist cake. The peppermint comes in subtly and gives me a little refresh, so flavors don’t seem so heavy. And I can go in for another slice.
What You Need To Make The Mini Peppermint Mocha Cake
Don’t get overwhelmed with the list. This mini cake does come together rather seamlessly, if you plan ahead.
- All-purpose flour – I’ve only test the recipe with AP flour.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – I use Dutch processed cocoa because I find it results in a smoother chocolate taste. However, if all you have on hand is Natural cocoa powder, you can swap that in with no recipe modifications.
- Baking soda and powder – We are using both to get the lift in the cake and balance the cocoa powder and sour cream.
- Granulated sugar – I’ve only tested with good old white table sugar.
- Canola oil – I only (for the most part) bake with canola oil. I find that vegetable oil leaves a flavor. And the oil helps with moistness.
- Sour cream – It has a high fat content that keeps cakes deliciously rich, moist, and tender.
- Vanilla extract – FLAVOR!
Chocolate Pudding Filling Ingredients
- Egg yolk – for rich and creamy pudding
- Milk and heavy cream – more rich and creamy. I use whole milk. Although you could use any milk fat – I just wouldn’t use skim milk.
- Corn starch – purely to thicken the pudding.
- Pure maple syrup – my sweetener of choice when it makes sense. But by all means, use your preferred sweetener.
- Unsalted butter – makes the pudding silky.
- Vanilla extract – FLAVOR!
Peppermint Meringue Frosting Ingredients
- Egg white – the lovely thing about this recipe is you use the whole egg between the pudding and frosting. Awesome!
- Water – a little more moisture to supplement the egg white.
- Sugar and corn syrup – I like to add a little corn syrup for a glossy finish.
- Cream of tartar – this helps to stabilize the egg whites – i.e. helps them to whip up.
- Vanilla extract – you guessed it … FLAVOR!
- Peppermint extract – it wouldn’t be peppermint frosting without it. But go easy with it! It may not seem like a lot, but a little goes a LONG way!
- Cake pans – 2 6-inch cake pans.
- Heavy duty saucepan – A medium saucepan that is of ‘good’ quality. I say this only because a good saucepan cooks evenly.
- Hand held mixer
Tips For Making The Peppermint Mocha Mini Layer Cake
- Make the pudding first – even the night before would be awesome. The pudding needs time to chill and set up.
- Use medium brew coffee – in the cake batter. My light as a feather vanilla coffee in the morning doesn’t bring enough of a coffee note to the cake. However, I wouldn’t go as far as using espresso – the strong flavor may overpower the cocoa.
- Watch bake time – whether you live at high altitude, or the fact that all ovens are different, cakes bake differently from oven to oven. High altitude bakers may find it doesn’t take as long to bake something. The cakes are done when they are springy to the touch, start to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the old toothpick in the middle test comes out mostly clean.
- Chocolate for the pudding – I may be becoming a chocolate snob here soon … I find that baker’s chocolate works so much better in baking – simply for the pure flavor and ingredient of chocolate. However, you can still use chocolate chips.
- Cut the top of the cakes – if you want a flat surface for both the filling in the middle and the top of the cake, you can cut the top of the cakes to make them even. Totally optional.
- Enjoy the day it is baked – even saying that, the cake is so moist it will still be delicious the next day!
Happy holiday baking!
More Mini Cake Recipes
- Pumpkin Roll Cake with Chocolate Filling
- Classic Mini Yellow Cake (Neapolitan Cake)
- No-Bake Cranberry Mousse Cheesecake
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Hot Milk Cake
- Mini Apple Cider Cake
Peppermint Mocha Mini Layer Cake
Chocolate Pudding Filling
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
- 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips or baking chocolate bars work)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil (or any neutral oil)
- 1/2 cup full fat sour cream, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup medium brew coffee, very hot
- candy canes, crushed (for topping the cake)
Peppermint Meringue Frosting
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon water, room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
Chocolate Pudding Filling
- Make the pudding filling ahead of time so it has time and chill and set up. Making it the night before works great!
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and maple syrup over medium heat until the maple syrup melts and bubbles start to form along the sides of the pan. Be careful not to boil.
- While the milk mixture is heating, whisk the egg yolk, cornstarch and heavy cream in a medium bowl, until thoroughly combined.
- Once the milk has heated, slowly drizzle in about half the mix into the bowl with the egg mixture. Whisk constantly – this makes sure the egg yolk does not scramble. Add the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan. Still whisking constantly, cook the pudding over medium heat until it thickens and bubbles – about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate chips, vanilla, and butter. Stir until the chocolate chips have melted and the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Strain the pudding over a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap – with the wrap directly touching the top of the pudding. This will keep a skin from forming on the top of the pudding.
- Refrigerate the pudding for at least 2 hours to set fully.
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the cake pans. Lay the parchment circles in the bottom of the pans and grease and flour the pans. Tip – Spray a little circle of cooking spray on the bottom of the cake pan first so the parchment paper sticks into the pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil. Add the sour cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and creamy.
- In another medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Tip – Sift the dry ingredients together first to ensure there are no lumps. You can use a fine mesh strainer set over the mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients in the strainer, and sift into the bowl.
- Sprinkle half of the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients, along with the hot coffee, and whisk just until no dry streaks remain.
- Pour the batter equally into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 18 to 22 minutes – until the cake is springy when touched with your fingertip, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
- Cool the cakes in the pans set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then, invert the cakes onto to the cooling rack and gently remove the parchment paper (if it stuck to the cakes). Cool the cakes completely before frosting and assembling.
Peppermint Meringue Frosting
- When the cakes are cool and you are ready to assemble cake, make the frosting.
- Simmer about 2-inches of water in a saucepan. In a heat-proof mixing bowl large enough to fit on top of the saucepan – without touching the water – add the egg white, water, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan and attach a thermometer to the side of the bowl (recommended – see notes).
- Using one of the whisk attachments as your whisk, constantly whisk the mixture until foamy and white. We want the sugar to dissolve and the temperature of the mixture to reach 160F degrees. This may take up to 4 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer, you can test if the sugar has dissolved by carefully rubbing a little of the egg white between your thumb and index finger – if done, you will not feel sugar granules.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, and add the vanilla extract. Using a hand-held mixer with whisk attachments, beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, and the frosting is pillowy and glossy. This may take about 2 and 1/2 minutes.
- The frosting is ready to be used immediately. If storing, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Longer than that, the frosting may start to loosen and separate. I do not recommend keeping the frosting at room temperature for longer than 4 hours.
Assembling the Cake
- Place one of the cakes on your cake platter. Optional – Pipe a small ring of frosting around the top edge of the bottom cake. This creates a 'dam' so the pudding filling doesn't spill out the sides of the cake. Smooth the pudding filling on the top of the bottom cake layer.
- Set the second cake on top of the bottom cake. Either pipe, spoon, or use an offset spatula to frost the top of the cake with the meringue frosting. Optional – sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. The cake is best enjoyed the day it is baked. Because of the frosting, if there are any leftovers, I recommend covering the cake (ideally with a cake dome) and refrigerating the cake.
- Straining – This step is optional and I do it just in case there are any lumps.
- Chocolate – You can use baker’s chocolate or chocolate chips.
- Cocoa Powder – My preference is Dutch processed cocoa powder. I find it is smoother and has a richer chocolate flavor. However, you can swap in Natural cocoa powder with no recipe modifications, if that is all you have on hand.
- Coffee – The strength of the coffee is up to you. I use instant coffee granules to make a small cup of hot coffee because it is a little stronger than what I normally drink. However, I do not recommend super strong coffee – it can overpower the cocoa flavor in the cake.
- Watch bake time – Whether you live at high altitude, or the fact that all ovens are different, cakes bake differently from oven to oven. High altitude bakers may find it doesn’t take as long to bake something. The cakes are done when they are springy to the touch, start to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the old toothpick in the middle test comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs on the toothpick is ok).
- Cut the top of the cakes – Your cakes may have ‘domed’ while baking. If you want a flat surface for both the filling in the middle and the top of the cake, you can cut the top of the cakes to make them even. Totally optional.
- Thermometer – Using a standard candy thermometer for this may not work – given its size (because we are making a small batch!) As an alternate – this is my go-to thermometer for small batch baking.
- Separate the egg white when it is cold – I’ve learned this through practice and professional advice.
- Careful with the peppermint extract – I do not recommend more than the suggested amount of peppermint extract. It is very strong and a little goes a long way.