This year, I just couldn’t hold out until after Thanksgiving. Here we are in mid-November, and my Christmas tree is up, there’s a wreath on the front door, and I’ve already got my fir and firewood candle blazing. Did I use our holiday photo shoot as an excuse to decorate my house obscenely early? Of course, and let’s face it: it was an excuse I was all too happy to jump on.
I know what you’re wondering: what does this have to do with cake? Promise, I’m getting there. It’s always around this time of year that I start craving peppermint hot chocolate as a mid-afternoon treat that gives me all the magical holiday feels. Maybe it’s basic, but I just want to be holding that Starbucks Christmas cup while driving around blasting Norah Jones’ holiday album. So, when it came time to dream up dessert for the pre-holiday dinner party I hosted last week, I knew just what I wanted to make: a flourless peppermint chocolate cake that infused one of my all-time favorite sweets with those classic holiday flavors.
Let’s start by singing the praises of the flourless chocolate cake. This classic dessert has a lot going for it. For one, it’s only got a handful of ingredients, and I always have them in my pantry, so it’s a great recipe to keep tucked in my back pocket for last-minute baking whims. It’s also one of those rare desserts that are undeniably decadent but has a lightness that allows you to indulge without that feeling of heaviness that often comes with denser cakes. And, bonus points that it’s naturally gluten-free, so even your #gf friends can enjoy it! This is a recipe that, by nature, doesn’t contain any flour, and I add a bit of gluten-free baking powder to give it extra height and airiness.
So, what makes this a flourless peppermint chocolate cake that’s fit for the holidays? Well, peppermint shows up in two places here. There’s a half teaspoon of peppermint extract in the cake batter itself, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but trust me: a little peppermint extract goes a long way. And second: after the cake has cooled, I pile up clouds of airy whipped cream in the center of the cake, then scatter crushed peppermint, chocolate shavings, and cocoa powder over the top. Not only does it add more minty flavor, but the crushed peppermint gives a wonderful subtle crunch that’s such a great contrast with the cream.
Isn’t she gorgeous? I usually slice this one pretty thin for a dinner party, so a 9-inch cake will easily feed up to 16. It also keeps great in the fridge—you could certainly make it a day before you were planning to serve and keep chilled in the fridge, then top with whipped cream just before eating. Eat it chilled or warm it up, this flourless peppermint chocolate cake is incredibly delicious at any temperature, making it a truly perfect dessert for a gathering. Scroll on for the recipe, and tag me on Instagram @camillestyles if you give it a try!