Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake. A decadent and delicious Christmas cake.
Can you believe it's December already? I think I say this every December. This decadent cake is one that I have made for many years now at Christmas, and I am finally blogging about it.
White Chocolate Cranberry Layer cake. I like baking cookies at Christmastime, but I really love baking this cake.
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!
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.
I actually went out and got my girls adorable matching Christmas outfits to wear so I can take pictures of them for our card. If I ever get around to actually sending the card. I have STACKS Of unsent Christmas cards. My intentions are there, it's the follow through I have trouble with. Too bad I can't send this cake out to everyone in lieu of cards.
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. One way I like to slow down and relax during the holidays is by baking. Cookies and cakes.
This cake has a few steps to it, but in the end it is so worth it. It is decadent, and most definitely a show stopper. My favorite thing about this cake is when readers make it year after year and send my their photos of the cake. I just love that you are all making it for your holidays as well!
My girls are now 3 and 5 and definitely fully aware of Santa. It is so fun seeing the magic through their eyes. I know this will only last a few years, so I am going to enjoy this time as much as possible. They love helping me in the kitchen during the holidays.
(Edited to add my girls are now 9 and 11 - how fast time flies is truly amazing!)
One aspect of this cake that my girls love to help me with ( eat more than make of course) are the sugared cranberries.
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. The flavor combination of this cranberry layer cake is too amazing not to try making at least once!!
A few notes about this Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake Recipe:
- This recipe has many steps to it - the cake layers, the filling, the buttercream and the sugared cranberries. Read all the ingredient lists and directions several times before jumping in
- I highly suggest making this over a few days. The filling can be made a few days ahead of time and kept chilled until ready to use. Same with the buttercream.
- With the buttercream, if you make it ahead of time, refrigerate in an airtight container. When ready to frost the cake bring to cool room temp, whip on low to make creamy again then frost the cake.
- The sugared cranberries can be made a few days ahead of time too. You need to let them soak in the sugar syrup for a while anyway, so you can make these first if you like. Make extra in case you decided to snack on them!
- The frosting I use is an Italian Meringue buttercream that starts with a cooked sugar syrup. I highly suggest owning a candy thermometer for this recipe. You can also make this with Swiss meringue buttercream as well.
- Please email me or leave comments with any questions. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Happy baking!
For the Cake
- 3 ⅓ cups cake flour
- 4 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks plus 2 tbsp)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon 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 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon 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 teaspoon sea salt
- 8 ounces good quality white chocolate, melted (bar, not chips)
- 1 ½ lbs butter, cut into pieces, slightly cooler than room temperature (6 sticks at ½ lb a stick)
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
- Preheat the oven to 350 Deg F. Grease the bottom of two 9” (3 inch high sides) 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.
- In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside
- In a 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 4 hours up to 24 hours.
For the filling
- 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
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and have the whisk attachment in place.
- In a high sided saucepan 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. ( I aim for between the whisk and the side of the mixing bowl and our in a quick, steady stream.)
- Once all the sugar syrup has been all poured 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 it's melted. 30 seconds at time, stirring between each interval. ( you can also melt the chocolate over a double boiler on the stove at medium-low temp)
- Let the chocolate 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 it's 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
- Rinse the fresh cranberries and pick out any mushy ones. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- 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. Transfer cranberries with syrup to an airtight container and let sit overnight.
- Once they are ready, drain the cranberries reserving the simple syrup for brushing on the cake layers, 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
- Take the frozen cakes and let thaw slightly. Trim off the tops to make even layers if necessary.
- 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.
- 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.
This cake has many steps but it is worth it. Many of the elements can be made ahead of time and kept chilled ( buttercream and filling) or frozen ( cake layers) or at room temp ( sugared cranberries) until ready to assemble. I actually suggest making this over a few days just so it comes together quickly the day you wish to serve it.