This recipe is sponsored by M&M’S®. This classic buttery vanilla layer cake has a cool pop of peppermint, which acts as a delicious base for festive handmade M&M’S® trees. To make them, ice cream cones are coated with chocolate frosting, then decoratively coated with M&M’S® and a light dusting of confectioners' sugar, leaving you with the perfect holiday centerpiece and dessert.
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Brush two 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil, line the bottoms with parchment, brush the parchment with oil, then dust lightly with flour, tapping out the excess. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Beat the vegetable oil and butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until combined. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and creamy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the extracts. Reduce the speed to low; beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until combined.
Divide the batter between the cake pans. Tap them against the counter, then bake until golden brown and the cakes spring back when gently pressed, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 15 minutes in the pans, then remove the cakes to the rack, remove the parchment and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting: Beat the butter and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Beat in the extracts, then the milk, beating until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove 1 cup of the frosting to a small bowl.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring. Let cool slightly, then stir the melted chocolate into the reserved 1 cup frosting along with the cocoa powder.
Make the trees: Using a serrated knife, carefully saw off the wide ends of 3 of the sugar cones so all the cones are varying heights. Cover the outside of all 4 cones with a thick layer of the chocolate frosting. Press M&M’S® Holiday Milk Chocolate Candies into the frosting to cover completely.
Put 1 cake layer on a cake stand or platter. Spread about 1 cup white frosting on the cake. Top with the second cake layer, then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining white frosting. Arrange the trees on top. Lightly dust the trees with confectioners' sugar.