Cake deserves its time to shine on your holiday table, and this Christmas Checkerboard Cake is just the thing that’s going to put all the cookies and pies to shame! Three festive colors, two types of icing, and a bunch of sprinkles make this baby the star of the show!
Hellllooooooo Christmas spirit!
Brought to you this fine hump day in the form of a fun little plaid-type cake.
This cake is everything I love about the holidays.
It’s colorful and festive, but not too loud and obnoxious. It’s got vanilla and chocolate to appeal to every taste bud at the table.
It’s much easier than you think.
PLUS: Sprinkles. And powdered sugar snow (because I live in Florida and I have to get my winter jollies somehow!)
Cakes like these are perfect for folks (like Moi) who don’t enjoy piles of frosting mucking up their pillowy crumb experience.
Now let’s be clear – I’ll fight you for Oreo icing, but you can have my extra buttercream.
This ermine frosting, though…
It’s the milk-based original version of the frosting I used on my Spiced Chocolate Eggnog Cake last month, and it is sooooo dreamy and buttery and just generally baking perfection.
So maybe, just maybe, I’d be OK with a few more piles of frosting on this lovely holiday centerpiece.
But you gotta admit, it sure looks pretty this way.
- 1 cup (2 sticks/220g) butter, softened
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240ml) milk, room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups (300g) cake flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 5 egg whites, room temperature
- Green liquid food coloring
- Red liquid food coloring
- 1¾ cups whipping cream
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- ¼ (35g) cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks/220g) unsalted butter, softened
- Festive holiday sprinkles
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 8-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper, and spray with floured baking spray.
- In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer,) beat butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until just combined after each addition. Add vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter. Pour ⅓ of the batter into 1 of the prepared pans, then divide the rest of the batter into two bowls. Mix green food coloring in one bowl until desired color is reached. Repeat in second bowl with red food coloring, then pour batters into prepared pans.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer from pans to wire racks to cool completely, removing parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream and butter to a low boil over medium heat. Place chopped chocolate in a bowl, then pour hot cream mixture over. Allow to sit 4-5 minutes, then whisk from the middle outward until chips are melted and blended, and ganache is dark brown and shiny. Stir in vanilla.
- Allow to cool 15 minutes, then chill covered in refrigerator for 1 hour.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar and flour until well blended. Place saucepan on stove top over medium heat and, while whisking, add in milk. Whisk until no lumps remain.
- Continue to whisk every 30-60 seconds until mixture comes to a low boil and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, whisk in salt, then cool for 45-60 minutes.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat butter for 5-7 minutes until pale and creamy. Pour in cooled pudding mixture ¼ cup at a time, mixing well between additions, until thick and creamy. Don't stress if it looks a bit curdled - just give it a few more minutes and it will come together. Add vanilla and mix briefly to combine.
- Once cakes are completely cooled, level them by cutting horizontally to remove the dome off the top.
- Lay the three layers out on a table. Center a 6" cutter (or use a knife to cut around a 6" bowl) on one of the layers and cut an inner circle of cake. Repeat with other two layers. Repeat the process with a 4½" cutter, and then a 2¼" cutter, creating 4 circles in each layer.
- Carefully remove the inner circles of cake from the each of the layers. Place the cake circles alternately into opposite color cake layers.
- From outer circle to inner circle:
- (bottom) Red, white, green, red
- (middle) White, green, red, white
- (top) Green, red, white, green
- Spread ermine frosting between layers, then crumb coat the entire cake. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes, then ice the top and sides with as much frosting as you want! I chose to go heavier on top and leave a bit of a naked look on the sides so the festive colors could be seen.
- Gently rewarm ½ cup of chocolate ganache in the microwave in 15-second bursts until just pourable. Drizzle warm ganache on edge of cake, allowing it to spill over the sides.
- Spoon remaining chilled ganache in a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe rosettes around top of cake. Garnish with festive sprinkles and/or a dusting of powdered sugar snow.
FOR THIS RECIPE, I RECOMMEND…
P.S. The more sprinkles the better.