It’s the holiday season…

I wont say it is the most wonderful time of the year(we all know that is when hockey season starts) but it comes darn close. I am SUCH a sucker when it comes to Christmas…throw a little red and green glitter on something or paint a little gingerbread man or tree on it and suddenly I want it. I scream consumer Christmas.
Not to worry, I do know the true meaning of Christmas…I did grow up watching the Grinch and Charlie Brown Christmas after all.
Christmas was also the time of year to mess with my mother. I used to annoy her by refusing to buy Christmas wrapping paper, instead buying regular birthday paper and then writing in the word Jesus after each time it said Happy Birthday. My mom was not a fan. She was also not fan of most of my wrapping styles. See my mom gets a little Martha Stewart about her tree. She didn’t used to when we were little kids, but as we got older she took control of the tree. She likes the balls, ribbon, tree skirt, wrapping paper, etc…all to match. To ensure this she would GIVE us the wrapping paper. I of course, being the giant pain in the ass I was, would flip the paper over to the white side and draw little pictures on it and use that side for wrapping. What did I draw you ask? Festive stuff like elves stabbing snowmen, reindeer pooping, Santa throwing up. I changed it up every year, you know, for variety. Needless to say my mother finally caved and allowed me to going back to picking my paper. I am nice now and usually have a more classic taste these days or even better I pay to have to do it.
Another thing that usually suckers me into consumer Christmas is Christmas Cookbooks…surprise, surprise. So when my biggest inspiration came out with another cookbook, and it was a Christmas one, I was all over it. I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas by Marcel Desaulniers had many a thing that I wanted to try but the vibrant color of the cranberry cake stuck out…plus cranberries are on sale.
Let my start off by saying that this cake was a pain in the butt to make to put it mildly, but it was OH so GOOD. I actually made this twice. I made the full size first but got super pissed because the cake layers shrink because there is very little flour, no problem, except that I got 3 different sizes. So out came the cookie cutter to make mini ones. I decided I would try them again, this time in my 4 1/2-inch diameter pans…that worked much better. Still they shrank but I liked the texture of them better too. The batter is just a much as a pain too. It is like tar, white tar. And you have to fold egg whites into the white tar…so not a fun task…but again, it tastes really good. My frosting is a much more vivid red than in the cookbook, I think mostly because I threw in more cranberries than what it called for and I could not for the life of me get my butter to go soft. It was freezing that day and would just not cooperate. If you are looking for a tasty challenge, then this just might be the cake for you.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

White Chocolate Mousse Cake

4 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into 1 TBSP pieces, plus 1 TBSP melted
12 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
10 large egg yolks
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 325F

Lightly coat three 9 x 1 ½- inch round cake pans with some of the 1 TBSP melted butter.(I personally made mini ones using 41/2 inch diameter cake rounds. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, then lightly coat the paper with more melted butter.
Melt the chocolate and butter on top of a double boiler.
Place egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high until lemon-colored and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Add the melted white chocolate and beat on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip. Whisk on high for 45 seconds until soft peaks form, then add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form, about 45 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add about a third of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and fold to incorporate, using a rubber spatula. Add the remaining egg whites and fold until the mixture is uniform in color. Immediately divide the batter into prepared pans, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.
Bake on the top and center racks of the oven until a toothpick comes out clean , about 21-22 minutes(about 25 for the minis because they are thicker). Halfway through rotate the pans 180 degrees and switch racks. Remove cake from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Invert the cake layers onto cake plates. Carefully peel away the parchment paper. Refrigerate the cake layers uncovered.

Cranberry Icing

1 ½ cups fresh whole cranberries
1 ½ lbs(6 sticks…yes 6) unsalted butter, cut into 1-TBSP pieces, softened
3 TBSP Grand Marnier(optional)
2 ½ cups powder sugar, sifted

Place cranberries on a baking sheet and bake in a 325F oven for 8 minutes, until they start to burst. Then put them in a bowl and place in fridge.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low for 1 minutes, then increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides. Add the cranberries and mix on low speed for 15 seconds, increase to medium speed and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl. Add the orange liqueur, then gradually add the powder sugar while mixing on the lowest speed until combined, about 1 ½ minutes. Scrape down again. Beat on medium-high for 1 minute until very soft and fluffy. Remove bowl from mixer, and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the icing until thoroughly combined.

To assemble the cake:

Remove the cake layers from fridge. Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip. Transfer 1 cup of the icing to the pastry bag and set aside at room temperature. Use an icing spatula to evenly spread 1 cup of the remaining icing over the top of one of the cake layers, to the edge. Use a wide utility turner to remove the second layer from the cake plate and place it on the icing. Spread another cup of icing over that layer to the edge. Top with the last layer. Gently press the layers into place. Using a sharp knife to trim away any rough edges around the cake. Spread the remaining icing evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
Using the pastry bag, pipe a ring of 8 to 10 evenly spaced cranberry icing stars along the outside edge of the top of the cake. Refrigerate cake for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.
Heat blade of a knife under hot water and wipe dry before cutting each slice. Slice the cake while still cold, then keep slices at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
*Since I made mini ones, I only did 2 layers. I also only made ½ batch of icing.

Source: Adapted from I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas by Marcel Desaulniers


  1. It is a funny story and a delicious cake!
    I wish I were near by to steal a slice!

  2. To me these little cakes look perfect. And white chocolate is so sweet that a small amount would be all I need.

  3. That is some hot pink cake! Is it tart, given the cranberries, or does the white chocolate balance the tartness a bit?

  4. I think I would eat that for the visual pleasure alone. Wow! But you are a braver soul than I. I’m not sure I’m up to tar wrestling. I will just drool on your blog a little more, until teh urge to bake it goes away.

  5. Ouhhh! Craberries and white chocolate, one of my favorite combinations! Love how tiny cute and pretty pink the cakes turned out to be! Gotta love Marcel!

  6. Oh my eyes – I had to dim my monitor to look at that cake! Once you get over the pink, it is really quite luscious looking. I love your…creativity…when it came to Christmas wrapping. I can only hope the presents inside were just as creatively chosen.

  7. Mmm this looks absolutely amazing. You can’t go wrong with white chocolate and any kind of berry in my book. And no wonder it’s oh so good with 6 sticks of butter in the icing!

  8. The crumb on that cake looks PERFECT!!

  9. Wow that looks sooooo yummy! The cake looks ridiculously moist and I absolutely love the color of the icing!

  10. All I can say is, WOW! what a gorgeous looking cake!

  11. What a stunning color! The cake looks lovely. I’m a little scared to try it, though. If it was a pain for you, it would likely be a catastrophe for me!

  12. You crack me up!
    That cake…incredible is the one word that comes to mind!

  13. That cake is gorgeous! But I don’t know if I’m patient enough to make it… want to send me a slice?

  14. Matching wrapping paper ha ha!
    The cake looks very very good, and I love the unusual fibrant pink/red!

  15. so beautiful! :)

  16. Goodness, that looks gorgeous and delicious! I love the color contrast.

  17. Absolutely amazing! I love how you made the cakes so small. I enjoy giving each person their own personalized cake or cookie because it really makes the experience their own. These little cakes would make anyone feel like they were “getting THE cake and eating it too” :)

  18. That is a lovely cake! I love Marcel Desaulniers. My copy of Death by Chocolate is signed by MD himself. But I should have prefaced that by saying I grew up in Williamsburg, VA where we have Trellis restaurant where he is part owner/chef. Interestingly, 7 or so years ago I was trying to double one of his recipes and sent him an email on a lark to ask if he thought it could double safely. He replied right away – such a helpful and friendly dude! Anyway, that icing is a gorgeous color.

  19. What great looking holiday cake and story! Too funny.

  20. Peabody, You are hilarious, and for some reason, I’m not surprised about your antics with the wrapping paper and Xmas cards. But you won! A person after my own heart. And that’s the cutest cake. The size I should be making. If you say it’s a pain in the butt, though, I can’t imagine how it would be trying to make it myself. Egads…

  21. I too get all excited during the holiday season – ESPECIALLY around Christmas!! Haha, wow, you certainly sound like you gave your mom a bit of a hard time when you were younger ;0)

    Sorry to hear that the White Chocolate Cranberry Cake was a pain to make; but I’m sure it was worth it after you tasted it, since you said that it was oh so good!

  22. Oh my! This look sSOOOOOO good! I on’t know WHEN I would have the chance to make it, but believe me…if I get the chance, I’m trying!

  23. Oh wow! What a fantastic colour you got from the cranberries. I thought at first you must have used dye but its natural! Glad you didn’t give up when the cakes shrunk, it looks like it was worth the effort.

  24. Such a pretty pink cake Peabody.

  25. This is such a pretty cake – almost too good to eat!

  26. wow, this looks so good!! funny story – yesterday we were at a friend’s house and flipping through some cookbooks… i then wanted to show my mother-in-law your blog and when she saw this she said “i just saw that cake! i recognize it!” i laughed, only half believing her, and then she grabbed the cookbook from the stack and sure enough…there it was! your pictures are so much better than that one in the cookbook! :)

  27. Gad, Peabody, I had that book in my hands last week. With the purchase of four others, I had to put it back. I guess now it’s got to stay top of the list.
    This looks totally incredible. Now I must try cranberries and white chocolate!

  28. What a beautiful cake! Sounds WAYYY to hard for me, but it truly is lovely.

    I was DYING laughing about your Christmas-wrapping antics. So funny.

    I adore the Christmas season too, so festive and fun.

  29. that looks fantastic. and such a wonderful winter flavor combination! i just love your recipes!

  30. Merry Technicolor Christmas to you, Peabody! I can just imagine your shit eating grin as your Mom pulled the presents out from under the tree and got a good look at reindeers pooping and so on. Your poor Mom.
    Not sure that I will make a cake where the batter is white tar, no matter how delicious. My skills at floding in beaten egg whites are shaky enough.It certainly has a dense crumb. Can’t wait to see what other goodies you find in that book.

  31. After your heavy sell, I’m not eager to try making this cake, but it looks lovely. I love the vivid color of the frosting!

    You were that creative as a child? I’m so glad you’ve channeled your creativity into baking lovely desserts and leave the wrapping to the professionals.

  32. That is gorgeous!

  33. It looks too good to be true! It doesn’t even look real. I want some now please!

  34. Your cake looks really really great!

  35. I had this book pre-ordered, but I just haven’t had time to look – so this is my introduction to it, and what an introduction! A beautiful colour and a fab looking cake :)

  36. beautiful cake! thanks for the detailed directions!

  37. What a funny story – it sounds like something my husband would do! The cake is gorgeous – I love the vivid red.

  38. You’re so funny. That’s a beautifully colored cake.

  39. Awesome colour on that cake!

    I always used to use the comic section of the newspaper to wrap gifts for any occasion.

  40. oh baby this looks so good.

  41. I’m a total sucker for Christmas, too, Pea. I get all excited and teary and emotional and happy. :)

    This cake is magnificent, sweetie!

  42. This sounds like a total pain (I’ve never experienced cake shrinkage), but it looks so incredibly pretty…and christmas-y! I hope you do more recipes from this book; it sounds like a good one.

  43. I nearly spat my tea all over the screen when I read about the ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ wrapping paper. Inspired! Fantastic! Subversive in the cutest way.

    My mother in law is very devout indeed and yet her poor husband is not. Whenever we are lazing about on a Sunday and reading our secular papers we like to whisper, ‘look busy, Jesus is coming’. We don’t mean to be bad, we’re just a bit childish really.

    My mouth actaully started watering when I caught sight of that icing. V camp.

  44. YUMMY! This looks absolutely divine!

  45. *drools* oh man I need that cake!!! soooo good… soo beautiful *steals some of the cake*

  46. Can’t believe I missed this. It looks so pretty and simply too good to eat. OK OK if you’ll make me one I won’t say no!!

  47. I’m with you. I’ve never met anything consumer-Christmas related (especially cookbooks) that I haven’t liked.

    Gorgeous cake — I love that colour!

  48. My 2-year old actually tried to lick the screen.

    It is so beautiful and sounds so delicious- I am making this. It has jumped in line ahead of my Daring Bakers challenge! I can’t help myself! I made the frosting- delicious and beautiful!

    Do you think the frosting could be frozen until next week when family is here, or do you think defrosting it will make it go unfluffy? Its too beautiful to eat alone. Just wanted an opinion from the expert.



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