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Peppermint Poke Cake

Rich chocolate peppermint cake moistened with sweetened condensed milk, smothered in whipped cream, and topped with candy cane bits.

A fudgy peppermint brownie pie topped with white frosting and candy cane bits.

This cake recipe has been a reader favorite for years. You know how I’ve been trying to update some of my older photos and recipes? Well, I pulled this one a couple of months ago for some re-vamping. And on Thanksgiving day on the dot my inbox started filling up with readers wanting to know where the recipe had disappeared to.

I can’t believe what Christmas rule-followers you all are! I didn’t get a single question about this peppermint-y recipe until Thanksgiving day. I guess that’s when Christmas “officially” begins. Although, when it comes to my house… we don’t mind starting a little early with the tunes. I don’t decorate until after Thanksgiving though (and since we just barely moved, it won’t be until waaaaaaaaay after Thanksgiving this year 😁) and we don’t start eating peppermint until after Thanksgiving either. I’m too busy cramming in as much pumpkin and pecan pie as I can right up until the last Turkey-day minute.

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But now that it is officially the holiday season, allow me to re-introduce you to my famous Christmas Poke Cake.

aka Peppermint Poke Cake.

aka Candy Cane Poke Cake.

aka Better Than Christmas Poke Cake.

It’s got a lot of aliases. 😎

A fudgy peppermint brownie pie topped with white frosting and candy cane bits.

There are a lot of different ways you can piece this gem of a recipe together. In this post, I’m going to give you the basic version:

🎄 Chocolate Cake – normally, I say you can go from scratch or box mix in most of my recipes that call for a baked cake. But in this particular recipe, I really think you should be using a box mix cake. Why? A box mix always yields a softer more tender cake than a homemade cake. That’s just the fact. I’m not saying you can’t make a mean, moist chocolate cake from scratch. I’m just saying that I seriously doubt it will be as airy as a box cake mix. And when it comes to a poke cake, airy = absorbent = ☺️.

🎄 Sweetened Condensed Milk – this is the magic maker. If you’ve ever had a poke cake, you know that the SCM fills the holes poked in the cake and seeps into every nook and cranny, making an incredibly moist and delicious dessert.

🎄 Cool Whip – goes on top. Obviously. People always ask, “can I use homemade whipped cream?” Suuuuuuuuure. If you must. 🙄 But here are my rules for subbing homemade whipped cream in a poke cake, 1) either make stabilized whipped cream, or 2) don’t add it to the cake until the very last moment before serving, and 3) most importantly: don’t email me complaining that it didn’t turn out the way my pictures look!!!! Got it? Good.

🎄 Andes Peppermint Bits – okay, so here’s something really important to know about this cake!! I’m not using actual candy cane peppermint bits here. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather not break my teeth whilst enjoying my dessert. So I almost always default to Andes Peppermint Bits anytime I’m making a recipe that needs “candy cane” pieces. They are white chocolate peppermint candy bits, and they are DELICIOUS. And you won’t break your teeth eating them. I never have a problem finding them at Walmart or Target in the baking aisle or in the seasonal foods section. Trust me, this is something your sensitive-teeth friends (hi 👋🏻) are going to appreciate! You’re welcome!

☝🏻 Here’s the cake I originally posted a few years ago. You can see that it looks a little bit different than the basic cake recipe I described above.

That’s because this one includes crushed Candy Cane OREOS on top (YUM!!) and about a 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of hot fudge sauce in addition to the sweetened condensed milk poured over the cake (and I whisked in a couple of tablespoons of peppermint creamer into the SCM). If you’re looking to amp up this recipe a bit, that’s the way to go, let me tell you!

No matter how you make it, ENJOY! And happy Christmas-food season!

Peppermint Poke Cake

Rich chocolate peppermint cake moistened with sweetened condensed milk, smothered in whipped cream, and topped with candy cane bits.

Ingredients:

1 - 9x13 chocolate cake, prepared

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

Optional: 1 cup hot fudge sauce, warmed

8 ounces Cool Whip

1 package (about 2 cups) Andes Peppermint Bits

Optional: crushed Candy Cane Oreos

Directions:

Once cake is baked and still warm, poke holes all over the top of the cake using the handle of a wooden mixing spoon.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk (and optional hot fudge) over the cake, aiming to fill the holes as best as possible.

Cover and chill for about an hour.

Spread Cool Whip on top and sprinkle the peppermint bits (and optional OREOS) over the Cool Whip. Cover and chill for an additional 3 hours (or longer).

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A fudgy peppermint brownie pie topped with white frosting and candy cane bits.

 

Ashton Swank

Ashton is the owner and author of Something Swanky. Although first and foremost a wife and mother, she considers herself an online entrepreneur, freelance writer and photographer, and brand ambassador. Her focus is in food styling, food photography and recipe development.

77 comments on “Peppermint Poke Cake”

  1. Hahaha, love this, especially since I posted a chocolate peppermint dessert tonight too!!!

  2. Oh man, you beat me too it. I was going to make something almost exactly the same next week! LOL, did we doubt it? LOVE it Ashton, it looks SOOOO yum. Question: how long does the cake last? Like, if I made one of these the day before Thanksgiving, would it still be good for the big day?

    • I had a feeling someone else might be planning one too– I should have known it was you! I just thought of it last night, and actually came home in the middle of church to photograph it in good light so I could post it tonight!!! Can you believe Chris made me give it all away? That’s how I know something is REALLY good– when he won’t eat it. Because that means he doesn’t trust himself to stop at one serving :) It would definitely still be good– it’s one of those cakes that would actually be BETTER the day after, so I’d for sure make it the night before. :)

  3. Wow. I love this so very much. Peppermint is my absolute, diehard FAVE holiday flavor EVER. And this poke cake looks better than Christmas, no doubt.

  4. I started making some holiday goodies this week too. Poor Thanksgiving…everyone is just passing it by this year. But I sure am thankful for such a crazy good looking cake. I love all things chocolate and peppermint!!!

  5. It looks so yummy!!I will have to try and make it Paleo style:)

  6. It’s definitely hard not to skip forward to Christmas. The retail world definitely doesn’t help either. :) Your cake looks fantastic! Megan

  7. I unapologetically bought peppermints this weekend…I’m soooo ready for the Christmas season. This cake looks phenomenal!

  8. Wow, this looks AMAZING! Definitely pinning this. Can’t wait to make it! :)

  9. This looks so good! I agree with your peppermint premise 100%!

  10. I love the your last sentence. I’m such a big Christmas fan and get so tired of people saying, ” it’s too soon for Christmas”!

  11. Oh this looks so good! And it’s NEVER too early for peppermint =o)

  12. Oh my gosh ….a friend just sent me this recipe and I want to make it so so bad. Like right now We Aussies are cool whip deprived and I have no idea what peppermint creamer is but Im sure I can find some somewhere even if I have to sell my husband as payment. Off to google all these “foreign” ingredients!

    • lol! I am so sorry you don’t have cool whip! How horrible!!! But, just so you know– you could definitely just add a little peppermint extract to some heavy cream or half & half (do you have that?) to substitute for the creamer! I think most of the ingredients probably have substitutes you could find pretty easily– just think peppermint!!

  13. Oh yes yes yes. This cake sounds amazing and is just perfect for Christmas! Pinning :)

  14. You are so right, it is NEVER too early for peppermint. This looks divine.

  15. haha. That is so true, bloggers live for the seasons and holidays. I have already started Christmas music but my husband won’t let me do decorations until around December 1st.

  16. Browsing through all of your recent posts and this gorgeous creation has me drooling. I’ve never had or made poke cake, gasp!

  17. Wow! This is quite possibly the best poke cake combination I’ve ever seen! There’s nothing quite like peppermint and chocolate is there?

  18. Oh heavanly Christmas Yum! I just died. I am going to make this for sure!

  19. I just got back from the grocery store and they didn’t have plain peppermint creamer :( I bought peppermint mocha creamer. Anyone try that before? Hopefully it turns out just as yummy!

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  21. Just made this for my 5th grade class as a pre-thanksgiving treat! I hope they like it tomorrow! Super easy and smelled delicious!

  22. Liquid creamer or powdered? I have the liquid kind on hand. This sounds yummy!

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  24. You didnt say what size cake pan to bake cake in.?8×8 or 9×13? ??

    Thanks!!!

    • As long as you bake it according to the directions on the box, you can’t go wrong! I liked using a 9×13 (I’ll go back and make a note :), but really, it could be any size depending on how thick you like your cake. And if you have to divide it across two or more cake pans, just be sure to divide the rest of the ingredients accordingly :)

  25. This looks amazing and I want to make it for my Christmas party, but I can’t find the peppermint creamer. Where do you buy it from?

    • I found mine at Kroger. The brand I bought is actually “peppermint mocha” altough there’s no mocha flavor in it! I’m also wondering what it would taste like with the York peppermint Patty creamer that’s out right now?!

    • I’m going to try it just after Christmas with the York peppermint patty creamer! The grocery store was too busy for me to get online and investigate the mocha portion of the peppermint creamer, and I couldn’t find any peppermint Andes chips either. So I bought the York creamer, and the little York peppermint patty bite sized pieces to decorate the top of it. Dinner is on the 29th!

    • I don’t know how I ended up linking my email client instead of my blog. LOL I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  26. Omgosh!!!! Love the flavor combo will be making this very soon!!! Thank you for sharing !!!

  27. Made this, it was delicious but it was a little too soggy. Did anyone else experience this? Any idea what I could have done wrong?

    • Hi there! A normal BTS cake only calls for 1 can of sweetened condensed milk to be poured over the cake. Adding 1 cup of additional liquid is fairly significant then! So, texture wise, it really compares better next to a tres leches cake than it does a BTS cake. I didn’t have any problems though cutting or serving (fingers crossed you didn’t either!?), though, and we all loved the consistency (then again, we all love tres leches over here). If you wanted the cake to be a little less “tres leches-y” and a little more “BTS,” I would pour only 3/4 of the milk/creamer mixture over the cake :)

  28. What is a BTS cake, as in ” your typical BTS/Poke Cake”? I know what a poke cake is but am unfamiliar with BTS. Thanks. We’re definitely going to try this one. It’s so simple. I wonder why I never thought of doing this before!

    • A typical BTS cake is made up of a chocolate cake (made from a box mix), holes poked in the cake, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk poured over top, topped with cool whip and heath bar candy. So this is just a variation :)

    • I know I’m a “little late to the party”, but BTS stands for Better Than Sex, I believe. Not sure if that helps you at all. :)

    • Right :) It’s a play on the name. I have a “series” of these cakes that all have “Better than…” seasonal titles :) Plus, when you put the word “sex” in a blog post title, Google sends all sorts of creepers your way!

  29. Wanted to make this but only one comment from someone who actually made it and she said it was
    soggy. Hope to hear from someone with better results.

  30. I can’t wait to make this cake. Sounds wonderful

  31. I couldn’t find the Andes mints, but have candy canes and pepper mints on hand…would that work? Also, using the York peppermint creamer, so I’ll let ya know how that goes!

  32. just wondering if theres an alternative to the cool whip ?
    im allergic to both cool whip and whipped cream :(

    • I feel like I saw on a blog once that you can whip coconut milk. Maybe give that a shot?

    • I’ve used coconut milk a lot! So yummy! Just get a can of it, refrigerate it overnight and it turns into a cool whip like consistency and flavor- just like cool whip with a bit of coconut flavoring. I was pleasantly surprised.

  33. I’m whipping this up for a party tomorrow!!

    Regarding someone being allergic to cool whip and your suggestion of whipping coconut milk, that may be what they’re allergic to as cool whip contains coconut (oil?milk?idk). I say just get yourself some heavy cream and whip up your very own whipped cream, that way you know just what’s in it! :)

  34. Do you think this could translate to cupcakes easily?

  35. Do you use powdered or liquid creamer?

  36. This is amazing! It’s a sad day around here, because we just ate the last piece. We decided there is probably time to make one more cake before Christmas. Love it!!

  37. Do you think if I switched up chocolate cake with the red velvet that it would be just as good? I love love chocolate but I think the red cake would be fun for Christmas, please let me know your thoughts thanks!!

  38. I am making this wonderful recipe for a Christmas dinner, which is not until Sat. 12/22 at 5:00 p.m. I thought about making it this evening (12/22)…but would it still be good and not too soggy by tomorrow at 5:00? Or should I wait until morning? I saw a previous post said it was better if made the night before, but I wasn’t sure how far into the next day it was served. Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

  39. I couldn’t find the peppermint creamer in our little town, so I improvised and found some peppermint powdered hot chocolate mix. I mixed 2 or 3 tablespoons with the condensed milk and the cake turned out great!

  40. I made this last night and couldn’t find the creamer or the Andes mints. I used reg creamer and peppermint extract to taste and peppermint and white choc. Hershey kisses. Yummy

  41. I made this mostly according to the directions but substituted actual Andes mints & broke them up so it would be more chocolate mint than peppermint. It’s not as pretty but still I hope they like it. :-)

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  44. Wow! Wish I had come across this recipe a few weeks earlier. But it looks so inviting, I may go ahead and make it even tho it’s a little past Christmas.

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  47. Great recipe , loved it. Would use all the cream next time it was a bit too soggy. But I am defiantly making again .

  48. I love this cake

  49. In the comments from others… someone asked about “pan size” – you mentioned that you would add that -but- I don’t see it listed. :(

    In addition, could you add that you used “liquid” creamer, not powder to recipe, too. :)

    Just HATE reading through the comments to find out info on what others have questioned or what is concerning me to get an answer [maybe] — please consider making corrections/additions/hints to your recipes.

    I DO appreciate all the work you do on your site and for sharing your recipes with ease of copy/paste … Thanks! :)

  50. Couldn’t find the peppermint creamer so we tried it with the THIN MINT creamer! WOW! SO GOOD!

    Thanks for sharing!

  51. I made this the night before Christmas Eve to serve the next day at our family get together. It was AWESOME!! Thank you so much for sharing – it’s going to be one that I make a lot. I had a question and maybe it doesnt matter but I’m curious…does it matter what kind of choc cake mix? I just used a milk choc mix but maybe devils food or german choc would be better. Doesn’t matter bc everyone loved it but I thought I’d see if there was any difference. Thanks again!!!

  52. I made this cake and my family really likes it. However, the consensus is that it is not minty enough. The mint is so subtle. Wondering about a good way to make it more minty.

  53. I’m beyond excited to happen upon this recipe b/c you combined everything I love into one post…this cake recipe is one of my favs and I love your Christmas version! Since I haven’t taken down my tree yet and saved a few candy canes maybe I am justified in making this before the week is over.  

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