This easy, festive cake is perfect for any winter celebration. Go nuts with the decorations, if you like. You can use candy canes, gumdrops or pretty much any holiday-centric candy that helps conjure up that gingerbread-house mood. By Scott Hocker for Food Network Kitchen.
For the cake: Preheat a round waffle iron to medium.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves in a large bowl. Whisk together the molasses, baking soda and 1 cup water in a separate large bowl. Add the sugar, oil and eggs to the molasses mixture and whisk until mostly smooth.
Add the molasses mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until combined. Spray the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1/2 cup of the batter into the center of the waffle iron, close the lid and cook until the waffle is lightly browned and springs back when you touch it, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the cake layer from the waffle maker using a fork and set aside on a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter; you should have about 10 waffled cake layers total. Let cool completely then trim any scraggly edges with a knife.
For the peppermint frosting: Whisk together the mascarpone, confectioners' sugar and peppermint extract in a large bowl. Crush the 4 peppermint candies with a heavy pan and combine with the frosting.
Whip the cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Don't worry if the whipped cream doesn't fully incorporate.
Put a small amount of frosting in the center of a large plate or cake stand. Place a waffle layer over the frosting on the plate, pressing down slightly to anchor it. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread about 2 tablespoons frosting over the first cake layer. Place a waffle on top. Repeat the frosting and layering process, using the remaining frosting on the final layer. Sprinkle the 6 crushed peppermint candies around the edge of the top layer.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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