Sparkled Cranberry Chocolate Christmas Cake

Hi, you guys, and happy holidays! I have some really exciting holiday recipes to share with you all, starting with this Sparkled Cranberry Chocolate Christmas Cake ! I made this cake for my family’s get-together on Christmas day, and it was a huge hit. From being a perfect centerpiece to our dessert table, to tasting decadent and festive, this cake was Christmas perfection.


I had seen sugared cranberries as garnishes before, but never attempted to make them. All of the recipes I has perused needed hours to cover the cranberries and cool and all of these steps, so needless to day, I wasn’t jumping at the prospect. But, after some research, I found a great recipe and the cranberries were so easy to make. Don’t they just make the perfect topping for this gorgeous holiday cake?


I snipped a few sprigs of evergreen from our christmas tree and stuck them in the cake, too! It added a nice fragrance and pop of color to the otherwise neutral cake, and definitely brought the festive-ness up a notch.


I had never dirty-iced a cake before, but this rustic-style and naturally garnished cake was the perfect opportunity to experiment. I have to say, it may be my new favorite way to frost! I didn’t have to worry about perfectly covering the cake, didn’t have to fill up and use a piping bag, and didn’t have to deal with the chocolate crumbs that usually end up speckling white frosting without proper preparation. And the dark chocolate peeking through the vanilla buttercream made it absolutely irresistible…


If you decide to make this cake, definitely go for all three layers. I think the height of this cake made it really special, and the layers of white frosting and dark chocolate cake made it beautiful when it was sliced.


Happy holidays, everyone, and enjoy the last few sweets of 2016!



Sparkled Cranberry Chocolate Christmas Cake 

Prep time: 2o minutes

Cook time: 33 minutes

Yield: One 3-layer (9 inch) cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/8 cup cocoa
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water

Buttercream Ingredients

  • 3 sticks butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sparkled Cranberry Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water

To bake

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with cooking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined.
  3. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  4. Distribute cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. After cooling for about 20 minutes, pop the cakes out and stack and frost them as desired.

To frost

  1. Using a paddle attachment in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip up the softened butter until almost completely white and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. With the mixer on medium/low speed, add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, until completely incorporated. Add in the vanilla.
  3. Color and frost as desired! Enjoy!

To sparkle

Inspired by Life, Love and Sugar

  1. Combine 1 cup sugar and the water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Allow the sugar to completely dissolve while stirring.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Gently stir in the cranberries, coating them in the simple syrup.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, take the cranberries out of the syup and place them on a plate or rack to dry for at least 1 hour.
  4. Place the 1/2 cup of sugar left in a bowl and gently (don’t pop them!) roll the cranberries in the sugar to coat. Allow them to dry again on the plate, and then use liberally as a garnish!



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