Chocolate Cranberry Christmas Cake

This Chocolate Cranberry Christmas Cake by @bakerbynature is sure to make a memorable holiday dessert! Featuring three layers of chocolate espresso cake, mascarpone buttercream frosting and a sweet cranberry filling, this cake is a total showstopper. The perfect holiday dessert to wow your guests this year!

  • Prep Time


  • Cook Time

    1hr 15min

  • Resting Time

    1hr 45min

  • Total Time


  • Serving Size 12

  • Recipe Category Dessert

  • Recipe Cuisine Italian

Recipe By: Ashley Manila


  • For the Espresso Chocolate Cake:
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ teaspoons DeLallo Instant Espresso Coffee Powder
  • 1 ½ cups freshly boiled hot water
  • For the Cranberry Filling:
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cranberry juice
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, if using frozen, do not thaw
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the Mascarpone Frosting:
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature, more if needed
  • For the Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary:
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • 8 sprigs fresh rosemary


  • For the Espresso Chocolate Cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350°(F). Cut out three 9-inch round segments of parchment paper to line your cake pans with. Spray each pan generously - sides and bottom - with nonstick cooking spray, then place the parchment paper cut out in the bottom of the pans and spray again. It's important to make sure every bit of the pan and paper are sprayed so your cakes don't get stuck. Set pans aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine both sugars, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk until ingredients are thoroughly combined, breaking up any large chunks of brown sugar or cocoa powder with your hands or a whisk.
  • In a separate large bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, milk, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract, mix until completely combined.
  • Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula, mix until evenly combined. Don’t over mix here.
  • In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the espresso powder and hot water. Allow the mixture to sit for 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Fold into the cake batter, mixing until the batter is evenly combined; about 30 seconds. The batter will be quite thick.
  • Divide batter evenly among prepared pans (approximately 725 grams of cake batter per pan).
  • Bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 27 to 30 minutes (check at 27), or until a wooden toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  • Cool cakes for 10 minutes in the pan before removing from pans and transferring to a cooling rack. Cool cakes completely before frosting.
  • For the Cranberry Filling:
  • In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and orange juice, whisk well until completely combined. Set aside until needed.
  • In a medium-saucepan, combine the cranberries, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-heat, stirring occasionally, and cook until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking until the cranberries soften and some have begun to burst, about 5 more minutes.
  • Pour in the cornstarch slurry, and mix well to combine. Continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until the mixture has thickened, about 2 to 3 more minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  • Scrape into a bowl and cool completely before using.
  • For the Mascarpone Frosting:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and mascarpone cheese on medium-speed, until smooth and creamy, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low, and gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, beating each addition well before adding the next. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat in the salt, vanilla, and milk.
  • Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. If the frosting appears too stiff to spread, add more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until desired texture is achieved.
  • For the Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary:
  • In a medium-saucepan, combine 1⁄2 cup of the granulated sugar and the water. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Add in the cranberries and bring mixture back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cranberries and transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
  • Add the rosemary into sugar syrup and cook for 1 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to the wire cooling rack.
  • Allow cranberries and rosemary to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, or until still slightly tacky to the touch.
  • Add remaining granulated sugar to a wide, shallow bowl. Add a few cranberries at a time, and roll them in the sugar until they’re completely coated on all sides. Transfer the cranberries back to the wire rack. Repeat with all the cranberries and rosemary sprigs.
  • Leave to dry at room temperature for 2 hours before using.
  • Assembly:
  • Using a long serrated knife, carefully trim the raised top of each cake, making each one an even, level surface. This will only be a thin layer, as the cakes don’t rise too much in the oven.
  • Carefully transfer 1 layer to a large plate or cake stand. Spread an even layer of frosting on top, aiming for it to be 1⁄4” in thickness, then top with half of the cranberry filling. Top with another cake layer, and repeat, adding the same ratio of frosting and cranberry filling.
  • Top with the final cake layer, then use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Aim for a 1⁄4” thickness of frosting on top, then spread whatever is left around the edges. This is a semi-naked cake, so don’t be alarmed if the sides aren’t totally covered with frosting.
  • Decorate the cake with sugared cranberries and rosemary. Allow cake to set at room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

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Chocolate Cranberry Christmas Cake

This Chocolate Cranberry Christmas Cake is sure to make a memorable holiday dessert! Featuring three layers of chocolate espresso cake, mascarpone buttercream frosting and a sweet cranberry filling, this cake is a total showstopper. The perfect holiday dessert to wow your guests this year!