This festive vegan and gluten free Chocolate Peppermint Cake is the perfect show-stopping holiday dessert! With three rich chocolate layers studded with crunchy candy canes and a two-tone peppermint buttercream, every bite is absolutely delicious. It's easier to make than it looks, and nobody will ever know it's vegan and gluten free!
Chocolate Peppermint Cake:
- 3/4 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
- 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) maple syrup, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cup oat milk (or other nondairy milk)
- 1 1/2 ounces freshly brewed espresso (or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder)
- 2 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour
- 1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Oat Flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup melted chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups finely crushed candy canes, divided
- 2 cups vegan butter, softened to room temperature
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 3-4 tbsp nondairy milk
- Optional: a few drops of red food coloring
- Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Grease three 8" cake pans and lightly dust with cocoa powder or line with round parchment paper sheets.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together gluten free flour, oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 1 minute). Add in vanilla and peppermint extract. Add applesauce and maple syrup and continue mixing. (Note: the mixture may look separated but this is common with vegan butter – it will come back together when you add dry mixture).
- Stir espresso into oat milk. Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals and set aside.
- Alternate adding dry mixture and oat milk mixture into wet ingredients, mixing on medium-low until fully incorporated. Add in melted chocolate and mix until smooth. Using a spatula, stir in crushed candy canes.
- Divide batter between the three cake pans (about 710g/9oz of cake batter per pan if using a scale) and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 32-34 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.
Buttercream and assembly:
- Add softened butter to a stand mixer and cream at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 1 minute). Slowly add in the powdered sugar, mixing well between each addition, until frosting is stiff, but still light.
- Add in vanilla and peppermint extract, and 3 tablespoons of milk. Beat on medium-high for 10-20 seconds. If it's too stiff, add in another 1-2 tablespoons of milk.
- Transfer about 1/3 of the buttercream into a separate bowl and stir in red food coloring. Leave the other 2/3 white.
- To create striped interior, pipe white and red frosting in a concentric circle on top of the bottom and second layer.
- Frost the cake with a crumb coat of white frosting. Add a few dollops of red and white frosting around the sides of the cake, then use a cake scraper to smooth it out to create a watercolor effect.
- For the red and white peppermint swirls on top, pipe white and red frosting next to each other on a piece of plastic wrap. Roll it up gently, then transfer to piping bag with a swirl piping tip. Pipe on to top of cake, then garnish with crushed candy canes.
*The amount of buttercream in this recipe may seem like a lot, but it ends up being just enough for the filling between layers, the exterior and piping swirls on top. If you would prefer to use less, you can go for more of a naked cake look.
To prevent your cake from tilting/sliding around, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake.
If you are not gluten free, you can sub gluten free flour with Bob's Red Mill Unbleached All Purpose Flour. We tested it both ways and it worked perfectly!
For best results, we suggest chilling the cake layers in the refrigerator for a few hours (or even overnight) before frosting. The colder the cake, the easier the frosting will go on.
Storage: store at room temperature for 3-5 days, or in refrigerator for up to a week.
Cocoa powder: you can use either natural cocoa powder or Dutch process cocoa powder in this recipe.
Maple syrup: you can substitute with another liquid sweetener of choice, like agave.
Chocolate: we typically use semisweet or dark chocolate, anywhere between 60-80% in this chocolate peppermint cake. You can use chocolate chips or a bar (be sure to chop well before melting).
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 525
- Sugar: 57.1 g
- Sodium: 282 mg
- Fat: 26.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 64.1 g
- Fiber: 2.2 g
- Protein: 3.7 g
Keywords: chocolate peppermint cake, vegan chocolate peppermint cake