A Chocolate Snacking Cake with a Secret Ingredient

It is no secret that I am a big fan of snacking cakes (check out this and this to see my fandom in action) and this chocolate mayo one, generously frosted in pink peppermint buttercream, might just be one of my all-time faves. The mayonnaise takes the place of oil, and even eggs, when it is added to cake batter, and makes for the moistest of cakes, with the softest of crumbs – but don’t worry: you’ll never know it’s there. Here, despite the mayo, the recipe calls for an additional egg and yolk, giving the cake a truly luxurious texture. It’s assembled by hand, no electric mixer necessary, and bakes up in about a half an hour. The frosting is good ole American buttercream, light and fluffy, but not too sweet due to a secret ingredient (shhh: it’s white wine vinegar). I love tinting the frosting pink, my favorite color, and generously spreading the top of the cake with it, making lots of swoopy swirls along the way. Crushed candy canes give the cake a little crunch, a little sparkle and just makes it taste like the holidays, if you ask me.

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Chocolate Mayo Snacking Cake with Peppermint Buttercream

Recipe Author Jessie Sheehan


For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A scant 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise full-fat, preferably Helman’s
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temp
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar sifted if lumpy
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup heavy cream room temp
  • 3/4 tsp pure-vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • A few drops of red food coloring
  • Crushed candy canes for decorating


  • To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8x2-inch pan with cooking spray or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder and boiling water and whisk until smooth.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the mayonnaise and two sugars until smooth, about 30 seconds.Add the egg and the yolk, whisking after each. Add the vanilla and whisk again until just combined
  • Add the dry ingredients in three additions,whisking after eachandalternatingwith thechocolate mixture.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for25 to30 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway mark. The cake is ready when a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out with a moist crumb or two.
  • Let cool to room temperature before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low to medium-low until smooth, about2minutes.Begin slowly adding the sugar, about a cup at a time, alternating with the heavy cream, and keeping the mixer at the same low-ish speed.
  • Continue slowly mixing in this fashion (adding sugar and cream, scraping with a spatula periodically, and taking time to let the mixer run between additions), until most of the sugar and cream has been incorporated.Add the extracts, vinegar and salt and mix again
  • Add the remaining sugar and creamand continue mixing on medium-low (at the highest) for atleast 5 to 10 minutes, if not longer,adding the food coloring halfway through the mixing time.The frosting will be quite light, creamy, and fluffy when it is done.
  • Generously frost the cake, either right in the pan, or remove it before doing so.Sprinkle with crushed candy canes before serving.

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