Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes plus chilling
Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Serves: 16 servings
â€¢1-1/2 cups butter, softened
â€¢3-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
â€¢2 teaspoons vanilla extract
â€¢4 cups all-purpose flour
â€¢1-1/4 cups baking cocoa
â€¢2 teaspoons baking powder
â€¢1 teaspoon salt
â€¢1 teaspoon baking soda
â€¢2-1/2 cups cold water
â€¢1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
â€¢1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, divided
â€¢1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
â€¢1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
â€¢1 cup crushed peppermint candies, divided
â€¢In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition.
â€¢ Transfer to four greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
â€¢ In a small bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and extract; beat until soft peaks form. In another bowl, beat cream cheese and remaining confectionersâ€™ sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped cream, then 3/4 cup crushed candies.
â€¢ Place bottom cake layer on a serving plate; top with one-fourth of filling. Repeat layers three times. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
â€¢ Just before serving, sprinkle remaining candies over the top. Yield: 16 servings.