Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake

Can you believe its December already? I think I say this every December. And this is the last post for the Holiday Food Blog Party of this year so I figured I had to “bring it” with my last post, so I made a cake I have made for many years now at Christmas, and I am finally blogging about it. My White Chocolate Cranberry Layer cake. I like baking cookies at Christmas time, but I really love baking this cake.

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Here are all the amazing recipes for the Christmas Holiday Food Blog party. Click on each image to go to each blog to read all about each one!

Christmas Party HFP Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake

Red Velvet Parfait from Cravings of a Lunatic Cranberry & Brie Bites from Crumb Blog Soft Gingerbread Cookies from Roxana's Home Baking Coconut Spice Cake from Magnolia Days Gingerbread Biscotti from Created By Diane Caramel Biscoff Blossoms from That Skinny Chick Can Bake Mint Sandwiches from Jen's Favorite Cookies White Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake from Pineapple and Coconut Candy Cane Kiss Brownies from Chocolate Moosey Triple Chocolate Buche de Noel from Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle from Hungry Couple NYC Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars from Chocolate, Chocolate, and More

It really is crazy how fast this year went by. Having kids makes the year seem to really fly by. I stare at them at how big they are now compared to last year. Mostly because they keep trying to wear their Christmas pajamas from last year and they are a little to small, but they insist on wearing them.  I almost want to take a picture of them for this year’s Christmas card in their almost too small pajamas, because by the time I get around to getting them new ones for this year it might just be after Christmas.

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I actually went out and got my girls adorable matching Christmas outfits to wear so I can take pictures of them for our card. And a friend of mine asked me to take her ” save the date” pictures, so I decide to have a little fun and rent a couple zoom lenses for the photos.  I figured I should get some practice in with the lenses so I look like a pro when I go to take my friends pics. So, there are a LOT of cake pics for this post. Plus I had a little fun with the photo software I use, Adobe Lightroom, to make my pics look more ” vintagey”.

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So why is the end of the year so hectic? The more I want to slow down right now and enjoy the holidays, the more crazy it seems to be.  I made an advent calendar for my girls last year to count down the days until Santa shows up. I found the idea on pinterest and they are all numbered envelopes with a little card inside for a different craft or activity.
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I usually get some fun crafts from Michaels for them to do. Like little foam ornaments to make for their little trees in their rooms, or other decorations. Some of the days have activities like going to visit Santa, go to a local farm for a ” sleigh” ride etc. I also like to get them a few new Christmas books and of course, we have a day of decorating cookies.

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My girls are now 3 and 5 and definitely fully aware of Santa. Its so fun seeing the magic through their eyes. Getting to see how exited they are to open a new envelope each day to see what they get to do is really cool and we decided to treat them to a movie and dinner the other day. It was their very first movie theater movie, and a 3D one at that. My kids in their 3D glasses were cracking me up. But they were thrilled to be with us as a family and not at home with having to do chores or hang out and wait for me to not work so I can pay full attention to them.  This is what its about, slowing down a day or two every week and just hang out.

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My 5 year old would go out to movies and dinner every night if we let her. That girl LOVES going out to eat at restaurants. We rarely go out because my husband I love to cook so much, but I could go without having to wash the dishes. My kids are ALMOST old enough to have washing the dishes as their chore. Right now, all they do is waste soap and water. Lots of soap.

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My kids do love helping in the kitchen when it comes to baked goods , and they were pretty stoked when they saw I was making sugared cranberries. If you have never made these before, do it. So easy and fun! And they make for a great garnish for any dessert and drink.

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This cake is so good at the holidays. The spicy not to sweet but a little tart filling works so well with the vanilla cake and buttercream. I am huge fan of cranberries so anytime I can use them I am all about it, and this is one of my most favorite cakes ever. A cranberry layer cake isn’t as common as most, but the flavor combo of this cake is too amazing not to try making at least once!!

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Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake
Recipe type: Cake, Christmas
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Cake With Sparkling Cranberries Makes a 4 layer, 9" round cake. Prep about 2 hours, inactive up to 24 depending on how much you make ahead of time.
For the Cake
  • 3⅓ c cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds from one vanilla bean
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature (full fat NOT low or non fat)
For the filling
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • ⅔ granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup cranberry jelly or preserves
  • ¼ c cranberry juice
For the buttercream
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ c water
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, melted
  • 1 ½ lbs butter, cut into pieces, slightly cooler than room temperature
For the sparkling cranberries
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 c water
  • ½ c cranberry juice
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup organic evaporated cane syrup/juice ( larger granule sugar than regular sugar)
  • 1 cup super fine sugar
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 Deg F. Grease the bottom of two 9” cake pans with butter and line with parchment paper circles on the bottom only. Grease with butter again and lightly flour, tapping out any extra.
  2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside
  3. Ina bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter on medium until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and beat again for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides when necessary. Add in the egg whites in thirds, beating well between each addition. Add in the flour mixture alternating with the milk, ending with flour until it is barely incorporated. Add in the vanilla and mix on medium about 20 more seconds. Scrape down the sides and divide the mixture evenly amongst the cake pans. Bake for 30-35 min, rotating pans a about 20 minutes into baking, and test for doneness with a toothpick. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool for another hour. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until the cakes are very firm.
For the filling
  1. In a saucepan combine 2 cups of the cranberries along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat as soon as most of the cranberries have popped open. Add in the remaining cranberries and transfer the filling to an airtight container. Chill completely. The filling can be made several days ahead of time. Bring to room temperature before cake assembly
For the buttercream
  1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and have the whisk attachment in place. In a high sided sauce pan combine the sugar, salt and water and place over medium-high head. Clip on a candy thermometer and stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it gets to about 220 degrees turn the mixer on high to whip the egg whites to a stiff peak. Keep the mixer running but drop it to medium speed, and watch the temperature on the sugar mixture. Once it reaches 245 deg F remove the pan from the stove and carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites. Once its all in, bring the speed back up to high and whip for 5-7 minutes, or until the bowl feels cool to the touch. In the meantime heat the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl until its melted. Let cool slightly. Once the mixer bowl is cool to the touch, add in the butter one tablespoon at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides when needed. Once all the butter is in and its fully incorporated, whip on high until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Add in the melted white chocolate and mix on medium until well combined. If frosting cake same day, leave the buttercream at room temperature. If not, transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Bring the buttercream fully to room temperature and then mix on low to get it back to the right consistency.
For the sugared cranberries
  1. Rinse the fresh cranberries and pick out any mushy ones. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar, water, and cranberry juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t bring to a boil. Once almost at a simmer remove from the heat and add the cranberries. Pour into an airtight container and immediately refrigerate at least 4 hours if not, overnight. The longer the better the chance of the sugar sticking
  3. Once they are ready, drain the cranberries reserving the simple syrup, and toss the cranberries with the organic or larger grained sugar. Let dry for an hour and then toss again in a smaller grained sugar and let dry completely. These can be made up to two days ahead of time
For Cake assembly
  1. Take the frozen cakes and let thaw slightly. Cut each cake in half so you have 4 equal cake rounds. Place one with cut side up on a cake plate or stand .Lightly brush the top of the cake with reserved simple syrup from the sugared cranberries. Spread on a thin layer of buttercream, about ⅔ c, and top with some of the cranberry filling. If you want to pipe a ring around the cake edges to keep the filling from spilling out the sides, use a pastry bag with a small, ¼ “ round pastry tip and pipe a circle around the edges. Repeat with remaining layers ending with the last layer on top, bottom side up. Brush the last layer with the cranberry simple syrup.
  2. Spread on a thin coat of the buttercream icing to seal in the crumbs. Chill until it is set. Once chilled, finish frosting with the rest of the buttercream, smoothing as best as you can. Top with the sugared cranberries and place them around the bottom of the cake. Chill again until ready to serve. Cut the cake when cold with a hot, sharp knife. Serve the cake at room temperature.

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Told you there were a lot of pictures. And now I am in love with two new lenses. Sigh. Maybe Santa will visit me this year. I have been a good girl!!

Oh and this really isn’t exactly the last post of the year for this holiday group. We decided to create recipes for one more “holiday” so stay tuned. Its a holiday ” for the rest of us” . Its gonna be good!!!


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  1. There is just nothing like kids at the holidays! We don’t have any yet, but if/when we do, seeing them excited about Santa is one of the things I’m most looking forward to.
    This cake is insane Shanna. I did a crazy triple layer cake at Thanksgiving, and it was such a hit, I’ve been thinking about looking for a similar over-the-top dessert for Christmas. This looks like the one!
    Erin | The Law Student’s Wife recently posted…Mini Quiches with Caramelized Pears and Gorgonzola {Microplane + Cake Boss Giveaway}My Profile

    • People are always super impressed with layer cakes, and they really aren’t that hard to make. Especially since all the components can be made ahead of time and assembled on a different date. This is how I always make cakes. It would take me a 24 hour day from start to finish if I did it all at once. I am not that crazy. ha ha

  2. This cake is absolutely beautiful, almost so much so I wouldn’t want to cut into it! But I bet that sweet-tart combo of cranberries and white chocolate is just too good to resist. :)
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough recently posted…sugar + spice layer cakeMy Profile

  3. Ahh, now I know why you were making those cranberries! My goodness girl, that is one of the gosh darn purdiest cakes I have ever set my eyes on. Now, if only I could set my mouth on it, I would be one happy camper!

  4. Mine are 5 and 7…I figure I have 1 (maybe 2) more years before the 7YO stops believing in Santa. Makes me sad :/ More importantly, this cake. THIS CAKE. Holy. Freaking masterpiece.
    Amy @Very Culinary recently posted…Toffee Speckled Snickerdoodles (and an OXO Baking Prize Pack Giveaway!)My Profile

  5. Absolutely stunning!!!! You have seriously outdone yourself this time! And Hula misses your girls.
    Samantha @FerraroKitchen recently posted…Baked Eggnog French Toast with Sauteed Pears and PomegranatesMy Profile

  6. Wow your cake making skills have blown me over! Amazing.
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry recently posted…Spinach Egg ScrambleMy Profile

  7. I have a cranberry cake I make over the holidays too; I know people tend to initially think, Cranberry? but then they see it and taste it and each year request it! This is stunning; especially those little sugared orbs of sweet and tart goodness. I want them for a snack!
    Barbara | Creative Culinary recently posted…Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cabbage and Pine NutsMy Profile

  8. This cake is stunning, especially with those sparkling cranberries! It would be the star of any holiday table!
    Laura Dembowski recently posted…Pumpkin Gingerbread Souffle + GiveawayMy Profile

  9. This cake is stunning!!! I love layer cakes and really are my favorite to make. White chocolate and cranberry is a lovely combo.

  10. I bow to the greatness of your cake decorating skills. I couldn’t get a buttercream frosting to be that smooth if my life depended on it. Those sugared cranberries on top are simply beyond beautiful.
    Renee recently posted…Coconut Spice CakeMy Profile

    • Thank you Renee!! I keep my frosting spatulas in a bucket of HOT water. I wipe them dry and then smooth out the cake. I have the cake very cold so it basically starts to melt the buttercream and smooths it out. I have yet to master the perfectly smooth no bumps at all. I need a cake trowel.

      • A “bench scraper” held vertically at a 45º angle to the sides of the cake is a great tool for smoothing the sides. I learned this in a cake decorating class and it works very well, as do the offset spatulas Shanna mentions.

  11. Apart from the obvious beauty of this cake, I’m a sucker for white chocolate!

  12. This cake is so so pretty! I love the sugared cranberries – I always think they are just gorgeous! Time definitely feels like it’s flying by lately – I still have so much I want to do before Christmas but I have a feeling it’s all just not going to happen : )
    Ashley recently posted…Life Lately – November 2013My Profile

  13. Once again my mind is just blown away with the beauty of everything you’ve done, the photos, the cake, the styling. Amazing. I love that it’s a cranberry filling different and unexpected but certainly tasty. Also how do you do the vintage filter in Lightroom?
    Susan recently posted…Chicken Lettuce Wraps #GiveawayMy Profile

  14. You really did go all out, and I love the pictures! Filters are always tricky to me because the longer I stare at my photos, the more I think the filters look bad haha I wanted to slow down for Christmas too, but uh yea that didn’t happen.
    Carla recently posted…Candy Cane Kiss BrowniesMy Profile

  15. I’ve got some major frosting envy going on right now… no matter how hard I try, I can never get that beautiful smooth surface. My cakes look a lot more… ummm… rustic, shall we say,
    I guess the nice thing is that those gorgeous sugared cranberries are the star of the show, so even if my frosting is crap, no one will notice. :) Which is good, because that cake is totally at the top of my must-bake list right now!
    Isabelle @ Crumb recently posted…Sunday Sevens: December 8thMy Profile

  16. This cake sure is a beauty…inside and out! I just love everything about it.
    Diane (createdbydiane) recently posted…Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Breakfast BarsMy Profile

  17. I made sugared cranberries with no purpose for them (except to pop in my mouth every time I walk by them). This cake may be the perfect home for them, it’s gorgeous!!!

    • They are so good! I made such a huge batch when I made them for my cake that I have been using them for other things like garnishes for my margaritas I made and just to snack on!

  18. Hi.. This cake looks delicious. I found all ingredients except the cranberry jelly. I checked 3 stores. Where would you suggest I look?? Do you think I can substitute something else or just leave it ou?
    Let me know. Thanks

  19. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe! I was looking for a different type of dessert for my Christmas dinner, and this caught my eye. It’s so stunning and vibrant. I was really happy with how it turned out. Wish I could post pictures on here so you could see it. It’s a gorgeous cake!

  20. Felicity King says:

    Wow! Simple but elegant cake! This would be my inspiration for my Thanksgiving/ birthday cake I’m making. This looks more festive than fall leaves on the cake. Reddish color but subdued by the sugar. I’ve made sugared cranberries but only with superfine sugar. Ill try your technique of rolling in bigger grained sugar, then on superfine sugar…more texture!

  21. Hi
    Thanks for the recipe I live in Australia so fresh Cranberries are rarely available I’ll have to think of an alternative decoration – I might also give it a go substituting cherries which are plentiful at this time of year. Wish me luck!

    • Good luck! Do you have frozen cranberries available? They would work for the filling but probably not the sugared ones. I am sure it will be just as delicious with cherries

  22. This cake is absolutely stunning; I’m planning on making it for my family’s christmas get together this saturday. I’ve already made the filling and plan on making the cake tonight. Now, when I freeze the cake, can it be completely frozen when it’s finally assembled and frosted or do I need to let it thaw a little? Would it be better to have it completely frozen to help combat the crumbs when frosting? Also, If I plan on making it today would it be okay to be frozen for 1.5 days before I put it all together? Sorry for all the questions, I really don’t want to mess anything up! Lol.

    • Yes you can. I have this huge serrated cake knife that I used to even the tops of the layers while still frozen then I fill and frost. When the cake is still frozen – it will start to thaw a little when you fill it, layer it etc. the crumb coat of frosting firms up a lot quicker so you only have to chill it a little bit before a final coat of frosting. I would just do the sugared berries last minute and not freeze them – once the cranberries start to thaw when frozen they release juices and its a mess. So add those before serving! I hope you all love it!


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