Chocolate Christmas Cake with Cranberry Swiss Butter Cream

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As explained in my first Christmas post I made this gift for the gift exchange game we play with my relatives every year for Christmas. My cake ended up with this lovely family!

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And I am so excited about sharing this recipe. I’ve been working on the plans for this cake for quite a while now and I think it turned out really well! I got the Swiss butter cream recipe from the pastry class I took at Kendall college and I made the same cake recipe as my black forest gateau cake I made a while back. I also made fondant for the first time to make cute little leaves all over the cake. Everything turned out beautifully. As you can see from the excited looks on everyone’s faces.

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I was originally going to make a black cherry filling and a vanilla butter cream with dark cherry butter cream for the decorations. I forgot to buy the black cherry’s at the store, and anyways, cranberry is more festive for the holidays.

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That is my cousin Lauren. Her mom got the cake and I am sure they have been enjoying it all weekend! She is so photogenic! I didn’t get that gene. She did, my brother did, my other cousin did… yup that’s about it, how can they manage to look awesome in EVERY SINGLE PICTURE! 🙂 Love you guys. And your pretty pictures.

DSC_0855I am obsessed with this butter cream recipe. I had no idea just how good frosting could be until I got this recipe at the pastry class at Kendall college. I am now in love. I never knew you could have such a delicious and wonderful frosting that holds up so well. So enjoy!

DSC_0886That is my fondant. It is actually so easy to make. And super fun, it’s like play dough. Unfortunately it doesn’t taste any better than play dough either. But it certainly is cute! No I have a lot of extra green fondant in my fridge. What am I supposed to do now?

DSC_0888Another thing I learned when I went to that pastry class is that, with a good frosting and a bit of patience, anything is possible!

DSC_0905Moving on to the recipe!

For the chocolate cake…

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and parchment 2 9″baking pans.

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt baking powder, and baking soda using an electric mixer.

In a separate bowl, combine beaten eggs, butter and milk, stir to mix. With the mixer on low, pour wet ingredients into dry, mixing until completely combined. Pour the boiling water into the batter and mix on medium low until smooth.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans. Bake for 35-45 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

For the cranberry butter cream…

5 egg whites
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 pound (four sticks, or 2 cups) butter, softened to room temperature and cut into tablespoon sized cubes
1/2 cup cranberry juice (I made mine fresh)

Fill a medium saucepan about a quarter of the way with water and bring to a simmer. In a heatproof bowl, or the bowl to a stand mixer, if that is heat proof, add the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl in the saucepan but don’t let it touch the water. Stir constantly until all the sugar dissolves, test this by rubbing your fingers together in the eggs, if the eggs feel grainy, keep it over the heat, continuing to whisk until it is no longer grainy. Once it is smooth, whip using a mixer on medium speed until the mixture is cooled about 10 minutes, then whip on high until the meringue forms stiff peaks. Turn mixer back down to medium and add the butter a tablespoon at a time with 10 second intervals until everything is well incorporated. If the frosting breaks, and begins to look more like cottage cheese than butter cream, then, using a blow torch, heat the sides of the (heatproof) bowl, or hold over the stove turning the bowl to make sure that nothing gets too hot. Only do this for about 30 seconds before returning to whipping. This should solve the problem, making a beautiful whipped frosting. Now is the time to add the cranberry juice whipping until just incorporated.

For the marshmallow fondant…

1 cup marshmallows
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon water
5+ drops of food coloring
1 bay leaf

Note: if you want to have different decorations, make the fondant without the food coloring and when you are ready to roll the dough out, take a ball the size you want for a certain color, flatten, and add a few drops of food coloring in the middle, ball up the dough again and knead in the color

Dust a clean counter surface with powder sugar to knead the fondant on in a couple minutes.

Put marshmallows and water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir the melted marshmallows until completely smooth, if not smooth, microwave again for 30 seconds. Add the green food coloring, stir to incorporate. Add the powdered sugar, stir until it becomes too hard to stir any longer, dump out onto the prepared surface and knead until everything is incorporated together. Using a rolling pin, roll out fondant until it is very thin, about twice the width of your bay leaf. Press the bay leaf into your rolled fondant and, using a paring knife, cut around the bay leaf to get the shape and imprint of the leaf for decoration on your cake. Repeat until you have enough to decorate the cake as you please.

Fondant can be stored in plastic wrap in the fridge.

To assemble

Level both cakes using a serrated knife, slowly easing it across the cake to make an even top.

Spread a thick layer of butter cream on top of one of your leveled cakes. Turn the other cake cut side down on the first spread a layer of butter cream over the entire cake, if there are visible crumbs in the frosting, stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes as a crumb coat. Make a thick layer of frosting over the whole cake, then using a spatula and a bench scraper, scrape a lot of that frosting off to make a perfect, smooth cake. At this point a turning cake stand would really come in handy. You will have to add and take away frosting so many times to make a perfect layer. When you are happy with the way your cake looks, take the remaining frosting and a star tip to make designs on the cake. Then decorate with the fondant leaves and sprinkle lightly with red and green sprinkles.

And you have a delicious and perfect cake!

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