Chocolate. If you want to capture someone’s attention, say “chocolate.” It’s always a favorite. The many celebrations throughout the holiday season call for a special cake that can serve a crowd, plus big chocolate flavor beneath festive frosting and filling will make happy chocolate lovers.
In this recipe by baking expert and cookbook author Elinor Klivans, which appeared in Real Food, dark and white chocolate meet maple-roasted cranberries—it’s perfect for a celebration. The chocolate cake has a 1⁄2-inch-thick layer of lightly whipped, dark-chocolate truffle filling, cranberries, and a white-chocolate truffle glaze. Of course our awesome food stylist, Lara Miklasevics, makes this cake look especially pretty in the photo here, but follow this image as a guide and even if your version isn’t quite as picture-perfect, it will still be a chocolaty way to make for the happiest of holidays.
Chocolate and Cranberry Layer Cake with White Chocolate Truffle Glaze
Makes 16 servings
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 c. cake flour
2⁄3 c. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
11⁄4 c. buttermilk (any fat content)
2 c. fresh cranberries (or frozen and defrosted)
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 c. heavy cream
4 tbsp. (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla
3⁄4 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla
1. Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Oil insides of two 9-inch layer pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper and oil paper.
2. For cake: Put chocolate in a heatproof container or top of a double boiler and place over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir mixture over hot water until chocolate melts. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until each is blended into batter. Mix in vanilla and beat 1 minute. With mixer on low, mix in melted chocolate. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing just until flour is incorporated. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
5. Bake cake layers just until tops feel firm if lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Leave on oven. Cool layers 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack. Turn out onto rack to cool completely.
6. For cranberries: In a glass pie plate, stir together cranberries and maple syrup. Bake in warm oven just until syrup is bubbling and cranberries soften, about 15 minutes. Spread on a plate and set aside to cool.
7. For glaze: Heat cream and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat until cream is hot and butter melts. Do not let boil. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and let sit in hot cream mixture about 30 seconds to soften. Add vanilla and whisk until smooth and chocolate melts. Set aside to cool until thick enough to cling to cake.
8. For filling: Heat cream and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat until cream is hot and butter melts. Do not let mixture boil. Remove pan from heat, add chocolate, and let sit in hot cream mixture for about 30 seconds to soften. Add vanilla and whisk until smooth and chocolate melts. Transfer to medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until edges are firm and center is slightly thickened, about 1 hour. Whisk cold ganache until it changes from a dark chocolate to a medium chocolate color and thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Use immediately.
9. Transfer 1 cake layer to serving platter. Spread all of filling on cake layer. Set aside about one-third of best-looking cranberries and spoon remaining cranberries over filling. Place second cake layer on top of filling. Using a thin, metal spatula, spread a thin layer of glaze over top and sides of cake. Using all of glaze, spread a thick layer over top and sides of cake. Scatter remaining cranberries over top or arrange in small tree patterns. Cake can be covered carefully and refrigerated up to 2 days.
Nutrition info (per serving): Calories 588 (306 from fat); Fat 35g (sat. 21g); Chol 102mg; sodium 218mg; Carb 68g; Fiber 4g; Protein 7g