Clear the plates and put the coffee on. Then bring the family dinner to a glorious end by presenting one of these showstopping Christmas cakes. Created by talented local pastry chefs, they’re beautiful, yet attainable, for the home baker. And while ample prep time is required for each, the end result is sure to rival any present under the tree.
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Co-owner, DeVivo Bros. Eatery
There’s an entire cheesecake packed with peppermint bark layered right inside this fluffy chocolate cake from DeVivo Bros. Eatery. “I’ve never really been a fan of peppermint on its own,” says John DeVivo, who, along with his brother, Ralph, owns the popular Keller cafe known for rustic comfort food and dessert cakes sold by the slice. “But when it’s mixed with chocolate and cream, it offers a softer flavor that’s delicious and smooth.” Use a variety of peppermint candies, from soft puffs and Starlight Mints to ribbons, sticks and canes, to get creative with decorating.
Executive Pastry Chef, The Fort Worth Club
An entremet is a classic French dessert often made with layers of mousse, cake and a hint of crunch. This contemporary, elevated take on the Christmas cake combines textural and flavor contrasts and is a perfect challenge for the experienced home baker. “Citrus combined with milk chocolate is a great flavor combination for winter,” says Fort Worth Club executive pastry chef Rocio Varela, who recently competed on Food Network’s Halloween Wars. “The orange marmalade makes it unique since we make it from scratch instead of buying a jar. You get more of the orange flavor, with a hint of bitterness from the skin.”
Owner, Sugar Bee Sweets
Naked cakes — those with just a coating of icing between cake layers and a luscious smear on top — are rustic, yet refined, and have become popular for wedding and party cakes. Heidi Allison of Sugar Bee Sweets in Arlington says any cream cheese icing will work for her easy cinnamon roll-inspired cake, which is embellished with ferns, coffee berries and white waxflowers. “We love the smell of cinnamon filling up the kitchen,” she says. “Use brown sugar to embellish the top, and add a touch of fresh greenery or berries for an extra pop of color.”
Owner, Cakewalk Bake Shop
“I’m kind of obsessed with cacti,” says Emily Allen, owner of Cakewalk Bake Shop in Fort Worth. “I have them all over my home, and my kitchen is even wallpapered in a cacti print.” The talented baker took the cacti theme to the oven with her Gingerbread Cacti Cookies, used here as decor for a six-layer chocolate gingerbread cake embellished with sprinkles to mimic snow. “This cake takes a little time but is very easy to replicate,” Allen promises. “The great part is you can tackle the project in phases spanning a few days.” For instance, loved ones can gather to decorate cookies one day and bake and decorate the cake the next, or vice versa. “Applying sugar crystals to the sides of the cake is also foolproof. It’s an easy way to hide any flaws that may occur in frosting the cake.”
Chocolate Layer Cake with Peppermint Bark Cheesecake
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups sugar
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon espresso powder
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• 2 eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup boiling water
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use butter or baking spray to grease two 9-inch cake pans and lightly dust with flour.
2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine or, using a paddle attachment, stir until well-combined.
3. Add milk, canola 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 prepared cake pans. Bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely.
Peppermint Bark Cheesecake:
• 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese,
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
• 3 large eggs, room temperature
• 1/2 cup crumbled peppermint bark
• 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter.
2. Mix together sugar and flour in a medium bowl and set aside. Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the sugar mixture and beat until incorporated. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, as needed.
3. With the mixer on low, add vanilla and then slowly pour in cream; mix until just combined. Add egg yolk, then whole eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate completely before adding the next. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, as needed. Fold in the peppermint bark and chocolate chips by hand with a spatula.
4. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and bake until the edges of the cake are browned and the center is barely set, about 45 to 60 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour.
5. Place cheesecake on a cooling rack. Cover with a baking sheet and let cool until the pan is lukewarm to the touch, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the baking sheet, loosely cover the cheesecake, and refrigerate. Run a knife around the inner edge of the pan and remove the sides when ready to assemble the cakes.
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting:
• 3/4 pound cream cheese
• 1/2 pound butter
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/2 heaping cup powdered sugar
• 1 1/4 cups crushed peppermints
Whip the cream cheese and butter with a paddle attachment until there are no lumps. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until combined. Using a spatula, fold in crushed peppermints.
Layer cheesecake between chocolate cakes. Ice with buttercream frosting and decorate with additional peppermints, if desired.
— 750 S. Main St., Keller, 817-431-6890, www.devivobroseatery.com
Note: Weighing chocolate in ounces on a food scale will yield best results.
Milk Chocolate Mousse:
• 1/3 cup plus 3 teaspoons sugar
• 3 1/2 tablespoons water
• 3 egg yolks
• 6 gelatin sheets (found online at
• 2 2/3 cups heavy cream
• 9.5 ounces milk chocolate (40 percent cacao)
• 2.8 ounces dark chocolate (66 percent cacao)
1. Cook the sugar and water in a medium pan on the stove. When mixture begins to boil, whip eggs in mixer at medium speed. When sugar syrup reaches 242 degrees, turn mixer speed to lowest setting and very slowly add syrup to the eggs. Whip until mixture almost doubles in size and has come to room temperature.
2. Place gelatin sheets in an ice bath until soft. Remove from water and melt gelatin in the microwave. Pour into the egg mixture.
3. Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Set aside.
4. Melt chocolates in the microwave, stirring after every few seconds. Combine with the yolk mixture.
5. In thirds, fold whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, making sure not to over mix. Reserve.
Milk Chocolate Ganache:
• 3 cups heavy cream
• 3 tablespoons trimoline
inverted sugar (found online at
Amazon.com) or honey
• 22 ounces milk chocolate
(40 percent cacao)
• 3.2 ounces dark chocolate
(70 percent cacao)
Bring heavy cream and sugar to a boil. Pour over chocolates in a bowl and combine well. Reserve.
• 3/4 pound mandarin oranges
• 1 cup mandarin juice
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3/4 tablespoon pectin
1. Poke holes all throughout the mandarins with a fork. Blanch seven times and place in an ice bath each time. Do not peel. Cut in quarters, remove the seeds and puree to a paste.
2. In a pot, puree the mandarin juice and quarters over low heat until it is the consistency of a paste. Sprinkle with the sugar and pectin and stir. Cook and reduce until consistency is thick. Reserve.
• 3 egg whites
• 5 teaspoons sugar
• 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon
• 1/3 cup hazelnut flour
• 1/8 cup cake flour
• 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Whip the egg whites and sugar until a meringue forms. Set aside.
2. Sift together the flours and powdered sugar. Fold in the meringue in three parts. Pour mix into an 8-inch cake pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 20 minutes. Reserve.
Chocolate Mirror Glaze:
• 6 gold gelatin sheets (found online
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
• 3/4 cup piping gel (found at Central Market
stores and Cake Carousel in Arlington)
• 1.5 ounces dark chocolate
(70 percent cacao)
1. Place gelatin sheets in an ice bath until soft.
2. Heat the water, cocoa powder, sugar and piping gel over medium heat in a pot. When mixture comes to a boil, pour over the chocolate and prepared gelatin in a bowl. Mix until combined.
1. Spray an 8-inch pan with nonstick spray and line with plastic wrap over the sides.
2. Pour a layer of Milk Chocolate Mousse in the pan; freeze until slightly set.
3. Next, pour in a layer of Milk Chocolate Ganache followed by a layer of Mandarin Marmalade. Finish with a layer of Hazelnut Dacquoise.
4. Freeze until completely frozen. Remove from pan by holding plastic wrap to lift out.
5. Use a spatula to spread Chocolate Mirror Glaze over entire cake.
— 306 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-336-7211, www.fortworthclub.com
Cinnamon Roll Cake
• 7 1/2 cups flour
• 2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
• 2 cups butter
• 5 1/4 cups sugar
• 6 eggs
• 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
• 3 3/4 cups buttermilk
• 2 1/2 cups cream cheese frosting
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 7-inch round cake pans and two 5-inch round cake pans. Line each with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, beat butter on high and gradually add sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk and beat on low speed after each addition until just combined.
5. Add enough batter to each prepared pan to cover the bottom and sprinkle about half of the brown sugar mixture on top of each. Pour remaining batter into pans and top each with more brown sugar mixture, reserving a bit to garnish the finished cake. Bake until golden brown and firm in the middle, about 20-25 minutes for the 5-inch rounds and 30-35 minutes for the 7-inch rounds. Allow cakes to cool completely before icing with frosting and stacking. Garnish with desired greenery, florals and fresh fruit.
— 2410 W. Abram St., Arlington, 817-903-8661, www.sugarbeesweets.com
Chocolate Gingerbread Snow Globe Cake with Gingerbread Cacti Cookies
Chocolate Gingerbread Snow Globe Cake:
• 1 1/2 cups cake flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 tablespoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon ground ginger
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon cardamom
• 1 teaspoon cloves
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup buttermilk
• 1 tablespoon vanilla
• 8 ounces butter
• 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1 cup molasses
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. In medium bowl, mix buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside.
4. Beat butter with mixer on high until pale and fluffy. Add brown sugar and beat several minutes until incorporated. Beat in molasses and then beat in eggs. Alternately, add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in three batches. Blend at medium speed until just incorporated. Add chocolate chips.
5. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans 15 minutes then remove from pans onto wire rack. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to a day.
Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling:
• 8 ounces dark chocolate chips
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Place chocolate chips in large bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream and butter to a simmer.
2. When butter is completely melted, pour over chocolate chips. Let sit for about 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for several hours to harden to a spreadable consistency.
Peachy Cream Cheese Frosting:
• 8 ounces cream cheese,
• 8 tablespoons unsalted butter,
• 5 cups powdered sugar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla
• 1/4 cup peach jam
1. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter on medium speed using the paddle attachment until completely smooth. Gently add the sugar and mix until thick. Add vanilla. If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk or heavy cream. If the mixture is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar. Reserve 2 cups of frosting for the exterior of the cake.
2. Add peach jam to the remaining frosting.
Gingerbread Cacti Cookies:
Makes 18-24 cookies
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter,
melted and cooled
• 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 3/4 cup molasses
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 large egg
• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Royal Icing (recipe follows)
1. In a mixing bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, molasses, salt and spices. Add the egg and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Gently incorporate flour mixture into the butter mixture. Separate the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
2. Roll out the chilled dough to 1/4 -inch thickness by sandwiching between parchment and plastic wrap. The thinner the dough, the crispier the cookies. If a softer cookie is preferred, roll dough a bit thicker. Using a cactus-shaped cookie cutter, cut cookie shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently separate cacti arms a bit so there’s a clear separation to the form when baked. Chill the dough shapes for about an hour before baking.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the outer edgea of the cookies are just brown. Cool and decorate with Royal Icing.
• 1 egg white
• 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• Hot pink gel food coloring
• Green gel food coloring
1. Beat egg white, powdered sugar, salt and lemon juice until stiff peaks form.
2. Divide icing into two portions. Using a toothpick, add a tiny amount of gel food coloring to each and mix with spoon or whisk to desired color.
3. Fit a piping bag with a small round tip and fill with 1/2 to 1 cup of colored icing. Gently pipe onto cookies. The icing will smudge if touched before completely dry.
• 1 cup white or clear sugar crystal sprinkles
• 1 lollipop stick
1. Cut each 8-inch cake round into two layers, creating six layers total. Use a piping bag to pipe a layer of Peachy Cream Cheese Frosting onto the base cake layer. Top with another cake layer and outline just the edge with frosting and fill in with one-third of the Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling. Add the next cake layer on top and repeat, alternating layers of frosting and ganache.
2. Once cake is assembled, frost the exterior with the reserved cream cheese frosting using an offset spatula, making the exterior as smooth as possible. (Reserve a small amount of frosting to use as “glue” to adhere the cookies.) Store cake in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to a day before decorating.
3. Gently press sugar crystals into all sides of the cake until covered. (May be stored for up to two more days in the refrigerator.) Pipe a small amount of frosting to back of each cookie and gently press onto the sides of the cake. Use frosting to adhere a lollipop stick to the back of one cookie to serve as the cake topper.
— 817-291-1129, www.cakewalkhome.com