wrapped up – white chocolate cranberry cake

by hungryrabbit on December 14, 2012

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

Christmas is coming early again this year … at least for us. For the last few years, M and I have had so many holiday time obligations that we needed to plan ahead just to have time together.

So we’ve decided to celebrate Christmas early–something simple, perhaps a nice quiet dinner. That’s the plan, but you know me, I can’t end a celebration with just a bowl of clementines (though in-season and delicious). It must be something fit for the occasion–I see red and white.

With limited amount of time on hand, I used the seasonal cranberries for both flavors and color. I always associate white chocolate with fanciful desserts, so a white chocolate honey frosting seemed appropriate. Easy decoration with sugared cranberries gave the cake an instant festive appearance.

I’ll serve this cake during our exchange of presents–I’ve got a feeling this will be a good year for me.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
yield: One 9-inch cake


1 cup (6 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup (6 ounces) evaporated milk
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Red food coloring, 3-5 drops
2-1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
1-3/4 cups (12-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 ounces (12 tablespoons/1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
White Chocolate Honey Frosting, recipe to follow
Sparkling Cranberries, recipe
White Chocolate covered Crunchy Cereals (optional)


1. Place cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until cranberries have popped and become mushy, about 5 minutes. Pour cranberry mixture into a fine-meshed strainer set over a mixing bowl and press through using a spatula; discard the solids. Set aside and cool for 10 minutes.

2. In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk together 1/4 cup of cranberry puree, milk, egg whites, vanilla and food coloring. Set aside.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment, grease parchment, and flour.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.

5. Evenly divide batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and cool completely, about 2 hours. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

White Chocolate Honey Frosting


12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
8 ounces (16 tablespoons/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brandy


1. Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 20 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add butter, cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add melted chocolate, honey and brandy, beat until smooth (it will be on the liquid-side). Chill until thick and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 30-40 minutes.


1. Cut each cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on the bottom of cake stand or serving platter, spread a generous layer of cranberry puree over cake layer and top with another layer. Spread about 1 cup of frosting on top and spread evenly. Repeat with the remaining 2 layers.

2. Spread or pipe frosting on top and side of cake. Garnish with sparkling cranberries and white chocolate covered crunchy cereals. Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes, Serve with remaining cranberry puree (optional)

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake
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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

thelittleloaf December 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

This cake looks absolutely incredible! Love the different layers.

Peggy December 14, 2012 at 9:33 am

Stunning! What an absolutely gorgeous cake!
What is your secret for having such a perfectly beautiful slice? I’m sure patience has something to do with it.

Barbara | Creative Culinary December 14, 2012 at 10:06 am

This is absolutely gorgeous Ken. I recently made a cake with a white chocolate frosting that I also decorated with sugared cranberries and I have to say…I did it for pretty but was totally unprepared for how much I loved them!

I didn’t have overnight though so I just gently heated mine on the stove for about 3 minutes til I heard the first pop, removed them, cooled them just a bit and then coated them with sugar. Worked like a charm.

I love, love, love the layers of colors…really just beautiful.

kelly December 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

Are you capable of baking anything that isn’t gorgeous? I don’t believe so. So lovely. Bravo!

Averie @ Averie Cooks December 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

Love white chocolate + cranberries and what a gorgeous cake.

The White Chocolate Honey Frosting sound especially fabulous!

Karen December 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Perfect and beautiful as usual! I always look forward to your next post.

Ronja @ a dash of faith December 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm

This cake is absolutely gorgeous!

Kate@Diethood December 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Those layers… my oh my… Beautiful cake!

El Brendo December 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Oh. My God.

Now I know what I’m making for my crew’s Christmas get together next week. Thanks, this looks incredible!! Hope I can get fresh cranberries down here in Australia…


Denise December 15, 2012 at 12:14 am

Stunning, Ken. I can almost test the cake purely by enjoying looking at it!

Happy Holidays!

Suzanne December 16, 2012 at 12:09 am

I just saw this on pinterest and fell in love with it, how pretty and I’m sure tasty it must be. Beautiful photos!

Anjo Angela December 17, 2012 at 3:24 am

Wow! This cake is a stunner! Whoever got to sit on that table with that cake was darn lucky. Yum. Thanks for the pictures!

Anjo :)

Gail December 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

Stunningly beautiful, Ken. So chic, so sophisticated.
But, then again, we don’t expect anything less from you.

safna December 17, 2012 at 11:55 am

hi,can i use dried cranberries instead of fresh?i cant find fresh cranberries where i live.the cake looks great!

hungryrabbit December 17, 2012 at 11:58 am

Hi Safna, unfortunately not, but you can try to substitute with fruit jam/preserves. -Ken

Ariane December 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

What a gorgeous cake! Beautiful photos too. I’m looking forward to whipping up this recipe in my kitchen :)

Rachel @ Bakerita December 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Such a stunningly beautiful cake! Love it. The way you decorated it is incredible, and it looks so delicious. I’ve been wondering what to do with the bag of cranberries in my fridge…thanks for giving me the perfect recipe :)

Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet December 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Stunning. Love the white chocolate and cranberries combo.

Lokness @ The Missing Lokness December 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm

The cake looks so amazing! The color is so perfect for the holiday!

El Brendo December 19, 2012 at 6:50 am

Well as I thought I could not for the life of me find fresh (or even frozen!!) cranberries here, but as Australia is all about cherries at Christmas I substituted with a cherry couli and sparkling cherries atop. Bummed I couldn’t replicate your recipe exactly, but the cherries made a valiant and well-received substitute :)

hungryrabbit December 19, 2012 at 6:55 am

Did you take a photo of the cake? I would love to see it done with cherries. -Ken

charlotte December 20, 2012 at 11:24 pm

As I have some left over cranberries in the fridge, I would love to try your recipe but my husband and I are not fans of brandy. Is there anything else that we can use instead?

Maha January 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

May i know what is the cake flour .did u mean the cake mix flour

hungryrabbit January 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hi Maha, cake flour is a lower protein flour than AP flour. It’s NOT flour from a cake mix. this might help you to understand it better. http://bit.ly/13zRg4u Happy Baking! – Ken

Catherine January 31, 2013 at 12:07 am

Hi Ken,
I can’t wait to try this cake! I just love cranberries!! I was wondering about the white chocolate covered crunchy cereal. I clicked on the link but I didn’t see what it was or where I can get it. What is it exactly. That cake is so stunning!!! Thank you!!!

hungryrabbit January 31, 2013 at 7:49 am

Hi Catherine, NY Baking changed the name of the product. they are now called chocolate pearls. http://bit.ly/VxngGB I don’t see white chocolate pearls on the site but you can call them directly to inquire about it. There are a lot more in the store than the website. Happy Baking. -Ken

Catherine January 31, 2013 at 11:28 am

Oh yaaaay! Thank you for clarifying. Appreciate all you do! Can’t wait to try this amazing cake!

Connie February 9, 2013 at 11:19 am

Hi, this cake is beautiful. I just made it, but not ready to eat, have a question, my cake is not pink, did you add coloring to the batter?

hungryrabbit February 9, 2013 at 11:54 am

I didn’t, but someone else brought up the same issue. Thanks for bringing that up, I’ll revise the recipe and add a few drops of food coloring to ensure the desire pink color. – Ken

Belle Nor May 9, 2013 at 7:34 am


Is there any substitute ingredient to replace the brandy for the frosting? Or if we op out the brandy do we need to adjust the measurements on any of the other ingredients instead?

Thank you!

hungryrabbit May 9, 2013 at 7:53 am

You can substitute the brandy with milk. -Ken

Jacqie November 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Hi! I just wanted to confirm the cake recipe is for one 9-inch layer, so I need to double it for this recipe, right? Thanks, can’t wiat to try it!

hungryrabbit November 5, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Hi Jacqie, the recipe is for a 9-inch cake and will make two 9-inch layers; so no need to double the recipe. Happy Baking! -Ken

missmarquisha November 6, 2013 at 3:01 am

Hi Ken, this cake looks stunning! I was wondering if it must be stored in the refrigerator?

hungryrabbit November 6, 2013 at 9:19 am

Hi there, because of the cream cheese frosting, it’s best to refrigerate the cake. You can leave the cake at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Happy Baking! -Ken

Ashley December 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm

My cake didn’t rise in the middle. Is 4 teaspoons of baking powder correct? I also can’t get my oven to heat above 325 either.

hungryrabbit December 23, 2013 at 10:18 am

Hi Ashley, the recipe is correct. Is your baking powder fresh, meaning not expired? I see that you are from Thailand, make sure it’s 350 degree fahrenheit, not celsius. It’s equivalent to 176 degree celsius. Hope this info helps. -Ken

Tina December 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Tried this cake over the weekend, I totally loved the flavor of this cake, my kids loved the white chocolate cream cheese combo! A must try n keep recipe. Thank you so much..

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