To tell the truth, I feel like a bit of a fraud posting this recipe.
That’s not a very good way to start, is it? Well, I must be honest. This delightfully rich, chocolatey, scrumptious cake began its life as a box of cake mix. This recipe – and I use that term lightly – consists of tossing a couple of additional ingredients to the mix and baking according to package directions.
Story time. I was reading an Ask Reddit thread a few months ago, and the question was something like “What secret would destroy your life if it came out?” One poster confessed that she (or he?) was a professional baker and had a successful wedding cake business. The dirty secret? She used packaged cake mixes for ALL of her cakes. Although no one ever suspected anything based on the quality or flavour of the cakes, the baker felt that the fallout from the secret being discovered would end her business.
My point is that cake mixes can’t be all that bad. Sure, cake connoisseurs can probably taste the difference between a cake made from scratch and one aided by Ms. Crocker or Mr. Hines, but none of the customers of that bakery, and none of my party guests (to whom I served this cake a couple of weekends ago) had any complaints.
I know, I know. I don’t really need to defend myself. For the record, I do try to avoid pre-packaged ingredients the majority of the time. Sometimes, though, a cake mix is the start of something wonderful, and I’m not sorry.
This incredibly simple but impressive dessert begins, as I have mentioned repeatedly, with a box of chocolate cake mix. To the batter, you simply add peppermint extract, a spoonful of instant espresso powder, and a healthy handful of chocolate chips. Bake as directed on the box, and once the cake has cooled, pour a luxurious peppermint chocolate glaze overtop and sprinkle with crushed candy canes. If that doesn’t scream Christmas, I don’t know what possibly could.
The added ingredients elevate the humble (but already delicious) cake mix to new heights. The espresso powder doesn’t lend a noticeable coffee flavour, but rather serves to bring out the flavour of the chocolate. The peppermint adds a refreshing note, the chocolate chips melt and ooze into every nook and cranny, and the crushed candy canes add a wonderful minty crunch to the finished product.
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- 1 and ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract (or to taste)
- 2 to 2 and ½ cups sifted icing (confectioner's) sugar
- Crushed candy canes or sprinkles, for topping (optional)
- Butter or spray a bundt cake pan. Preheat oven to temperature indicated on cake mix box.
- In a large bowl, prepare cake mix as directed on box. To batter, add peppermint extract, espresso powder, and chocolate chips and stir until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake according to package directions, until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
- While cake is cooling, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in milk, cocoa powder and peppermint extract, stirring until glaze thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar. Add more sugar if necessary to make the mixture smooth and pourable.
- Spoon warm glaze over cooled cake. Top with crushed candy canes or sprinkles and let the glaze set for at least 30 minutes. Best served the first day, but cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Glaze recipe adapted from the What Can I Bring? Cookbook by Anne Byrn (Love This Chocolate Glaze recipe).