Introducing Caramelized White Chocolate Winter Wonderland Cake! It’s the perfect white cake – fluffy, moist, and covered in creamy caramelized white chocolate frosting. Caramelizing white chocolate is a simple process that adds incredible flavor! Decorate with snowflake cookies, fresh rosemary, & a snow flurry of sanding sugar! This is truly the BEST cake I’ve ever tasted – and it makes a stunning holiday centerpiece dessert! I’ll show you exactly how to make and decorate the entire cake in this recipe!
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I cannot contain my excitement for this cake any longer! This is the holiday dessert to end all holiday desserts. It’s a GORGEOUS layer cake that’s light, fluffy, moist, and it’s covered in the most amazing frosting I’ve ever tasted. If you’ve never made a layer cake before, I’ll walk you through the whole process – don’t fret – it’s easier than you might think! I’ll cover exactly how to make this cake, how to make the caramelized white chocolate frosting, and how to assemble and decorate the cake!
How to Make the Perfect White Layer Cake:
First up, make the cake batter. I used a mix of C&H® Sugar’s Organic Raw Cane Sugar and Golden Brown Sugar. I know a white cake might traditionally just use white sugar, but I love using a little bit of brown sugar to amp up the flavor. Their Golden Brown Sugar has a subtle caramel flavor and provides extra moist-ness to the cake, so it’s the perfect addition to this recipe!
Divide the batter between three 9-inch cake pans (if you don’t want to eyeball it you can use a kitchen scale to help you get even layers).
Bake the cake layers until they’re just set – we don’t want to over bake them! A toothpick inserted into the cake layers should have some moist crumbs on it. Let them cool for 10 minutes in the pans before inverting onto cooling racks. Let them cool completely before assembling or frosting your cake. I learned this the hard way in college – a cake that’s not completely cool will COLLAPSE on itself if you try to frost and stack it.
How to Make Caramelized White Chocolate:
This is the part that sounds fancy and complex but it’s SO easy! Chop some good-quality white chocolate. Chips have stabilizers in them that will prevent them from caramelizing properly, so use a baking bar.
Roast it in the oven at a low temperature in 10 minute intervals, stirring between each. If the chocolate looks a bit bumpy or grainy at first, don’t worry – that’s normal! It will smooth out as you roast it and stir it. Below, you can see what the chocolate will look like as it caramelizes and darkens in color.
Now the chocolate is caramelized! Stir it into some warm heavy cream to create a luscious ganache that’s completely dreamy. I could drink this stuff – it’s like liquid gold!!
How to Make Caramelized White Chocolate Frosting:
I find using a mix of butter and cream cheese gives a richer, creamier, smoother texture than a traditional buttercream, and it cuts through the overly sweetness that buttercream can sometimes have. Mix the cream cheese + butter with powdered sugar, vanilla, a little milk, and last but most importantly, our caramelized white chocolate! Note that the frosting will turn out much lighter in color than the caramelized white chocolate, and that’s just because the color is being diluted by the amount of powdered sugar, butter, and cream cheese in the frosting.
How to Frost A Beautiful Cake:
This is the part that might seem intimidating, but it’s not complicated. Here’s how I do it. Start by laying one cake layer down on your cake stand, using strips of wax paper to protect the cake stand from getting messy. Just pull them away when you’re finished! No need to buy a cake turn table! Frost a layer, making sure to spread the frosting over the edges of the cake a bit. Repeat with the next two layers! (I like to divide my frosting into 3 portions (with the third portion being a bit bigger, so it can cover the sides and top) with a food scale to make sure I don’t run out, but you can eyeball it! An offset spatula makes frosting the cake a breeze. A regular silicone spatula works too, but an offset one speeds things up and I find it an incredibly worthwhile tool!
Repeat this with each cake layer, then move on to the sides of the cake. Add dollops of frosting all around the sides of the cake, use the back of a spoon to create swirls on the top. Next, use a cake smoother (I love this one – best two dollars I’ve ever spent on a kitchen tool!) to smooth out these frosting blobs. Hold it against the side of the cake, and slowly turn the cake while pulling the scraper towards you. This is your crumb coat – you could stop here if you want a naked cake, like my Gingerbread Cake, or you can chill the cake for about 15-20 minutes at this point before adding another layer of frosting for a traditional look.
Once the cake reaches this point, you can chill it in the fridge for about a half hour, just to set the frosting. Then, it’s much easier to cover the cake with plastic wrap without having to worry about it sticking to the frosting and messing it up. You can finish decorating the cake just before serving!
Winter Wonderland Cake Decorations:
The decorations are the finishing touch on this Winter Wonderland cake! I sprinkled on some white sanding sugar sprinkles on the top of the cake to give the look of fresh, sparkling snow.
I also made some of my Maple Cutout Cookies in the shape of stars and snowflakes using these cookie cutters. You can decorate them with sprinkles, glaze, or royal icing – it totally depends on how much time you want to spend decorating them!
Next, add some sprigs of fresh rosemary on the top and around the sides of the cake, and place a mix of star and snowflake cookies in small sizes around the base of the cake. Add a large cookie and a few small ones to the top of the cake, gently pressing them in so they stand up.
You could also decorate this cake with sugared rosemary trees and sugared cranberries, like I did on my Christmas cake from last year! Honestly, the cake is a blank canvas and the decorations can be as involved or as simple as you want – it’ll look like a magical Winter Wonderland no matter what you choose to use! Don’t skip the sanding sugar though – it makes the whole thing look like a sparkly winter snowscape and it’s SO beautiful (and it’s fun to sprinkle on!).
Then, we’re finally ready for the magical moment when you cut the first slice of cake! Look at those thick frosting layers and that moist crumb!
The flavor in this cake can’t be beat – I chalk it up to the caramelized white chocolate in the frosting, and to the fabulous sugars from C&H® in the cake! If you’ve never used cane sugar in your baking before, now is the time to try it! Their Organic Raw Cane Sugar is made from certified organic sugar cane that’s harvested & milled the same day, preserving the amazing flavor of sun-sweetened sugar cane. I love using cane sugar in all my baking – I find that it lends a better flavor and it’s organic – double win! Their Golden Brown Sugar has an amazing + subtle caramel taste as well, which is why I love mixing it with cane sugar to give more depth of flavor in my baked goods.
Now, get your tastebuds ready for the Winter Wonderland dessert experience!! I’m already plotting and planning how many more times I can make this cake this holiday season and beyond because it is truly the BEST thing I have made all year!
Happy Baking, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to you all!
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Caramelized White Chocolate Winter Wonderland Cake
The perfect fluffy, moist white cake - covered in creamy caramelized white chocolate frosting! Caramelizing white chocolate is a simple process that adds incredible flavor. Decorate with snowflake cookies, fresh rosemary, & a snow flurry of sanding sugar. Truly the BEST cake I've ever tasted, & it makes a stunning holiday dessert!
For the Cake
- 3 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 sticks + 2 TBSP butter, softened I prefer salted butter
- 2 and 1/3 cup C&H® Organic Raw Cane Sugar
- 1/3 cup C&H® Golden Brown Sugar
- 7 egg whites, at room temp
- 3/4 cup greek yogurt, at room temp use full fat
- 1 and 1/2 TBSP vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk, at room temp I used 2%
For the Caramelized White Chocolate
- 10 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped Use a baking bar, not chips!
- 1/3 cup + 1 TBSP heavy cream
For the Frosting
- 4 sticks butter, softened I prefer salted
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened in block form + full fat
- 1 TBSP milk
- 7 cups powdered sugar
- 1 TBSP vanilla
- pinch of salt
- a few sprigs fresh rosemary
- Maple Cutout Cookies recipe linked in the directions below
- white sanding sugar sprinkles
Prep: Before you begin, read the make ahead tips below. Also, make sure to set out the ingredients that need to be at room temp - the greek yogurt, egg whites, and milk. If you don't let them come to room temp first, the cake batter will clump when you mix them in and the cake won't turn out right.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans. See Note below if you haven't done this before.
Make the Cake Batter:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the cane and brown sugars and cream together until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the egg whites, and mix until just combined. Add the greek yogurt and vanilla, and mix until just combined.
Add half the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add half the milk, and mix until just combined. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk.
Bake The Cake Layers: Evenly distribute the cake batter between the three prepared pans (eyeball it or use a kitchen scale to help ensure it's even). Bake for 23-25 minutes. The centers will appear just set, and a toothpick inserted into the middle will come out with some moist crumbs on it.
Let the cake layers cool in the pans set on cooling racks for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the cake, and invert onto cooling racks. Let cool completely before assembling and frosting the cake.
Make Ahead Tip: I typically make the cake layers and don't frost them until the next day. Once they're cool, place each layer on a plate and cover well with plastic wrap so they don't dry out. Leave them out at room temp until ready to use. This can be done 1-2 days ahead of when you plan to frost and assemble the cake.
Make the Caramelized White Chocolate: Preheat oven to 255 degrees F. Chop the bars of white chocolate and place the pieces in an even layer on a large non-stick baking sheet. Let the chocolate melt in the oven for 8 minutes. Use an offset spatula or a silicone spatula to stir and spread the chocolate evenly on the pan. If it's a little grainy or lumpy don't worry! This is normal and it'll smooth out as you continue roasting it.
Continue roasting the chocolate for 6 10 minute intervals, stirring between each, until it reaches a golden caramel color. When it's done, pour it into a medium bowl.
Warm the heavy cream in the microwave until just warm to the touch (about 20-30 seconds). Pour the warm heavy cream over the caramelized white chocolate, and stir until combined. You'll have a thick creamy ganache-like mixture. Set aside while you make the frosting.
Make the Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until well combined and creamy. Add half the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until combined again. Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt and mix in. Add the caramelized white chocolate ganache last and mix until combined.
Make Ahead Tip: Frosting can be made 1-2 days ahead, covered tightly, and stored in the fridge until ready to use. Let it sit out at room temp for 15 minutes before using so it's spreadable. Don't let it get too warm and melty, though.
Assemble Cake: Lay four thin strips of wax paper, one going in each direction, on your cake stand, with the edges hanging over (forming a square with an opening in the center). This will protect your cake stand from getting messy and eliminates the need to buy a cake turner. You won't have to worry about transferring the cake to a stand after frosting it, either!
If you're worried about frosting distribution, you can use a kitchen scale to divide it into thirds, with the third section of frosting being a little bit larger so it can cover the top and sides of the cake. I portioned mine out into about 400 grams for in between each layer and on the top, and used the remaining frosting for the sides.
Place one cake layer down, add the large dollops of frosting into the center, and use an offset spatula to begin spreading the frosting around, and a bit over the edges of the cake (see photo in post above). Repeat with second layer. Use remaining frosting to cover the top of the cake and use the back of a spoon to create swirls and swoops.
Add dollops of frosting all the way around the sides of the cake. Use a cake smoother to smooth the frosting by holding it against the side of the cake, and slowly turning the cake and pulling the cake smoother towards you while turning the cake the opposite direction. You can stop here, if you want a naked cake, or you can chill the cake here for 15-20 minutes, to set this "crumb coat" layer of frosting. Use the remaining frosting to add another layer to the sides to completely cover it, and smooth it using the cake scraper again.
Chill the cake in the fridge again for 15-20 minutes, until the frosting is set. This will allow you cover the cake with plastic wrap without it sticking and messing up the frosting.
Make Ahead Tip: The assembled cake can be kept in the fridge, covered well with plastic wrap, for 1-2 days until ready to decorate and serve!
Decorate: Decorate the cake by sprinkling white sanding sugar on the frosting swoops on top to make it look like fresh, sparkling snow! Place sprigs of fresh rosemary on the top and sides of the cake. Finish with some snowflake and star shaped Maple Cutout Cookies on the sides and on top of the cake.
Cookie Decorating Options: For the cookies, you can either add sprinkles before baking, or you can dunk them in a simple glaze or ice them with royal icing to decorate. This part is a choose-your-own-adventure step. The decorations can be as involved or as not involved as you want. You can also use my Sugared Rosemary Trees and Sugared Cranberry decorations that I used on my Gingerbread Cake last year!
Serve + Store: Slice the cake and enjoy with a glass of milk! Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to a week.
NOTE: Use a paper towel to liberally rub shortening all over the bottom and insides of each cake pan, even if they're non-stick! Add a handful of flour, and shake the pan around, tapping the sides, to evenly coat the whole thing in four. Tap out the excess into the next cake pan and add more flour as needed. Repeat until all three pans are greased + floured.
NOTE: Here’s how to bake a 3-layer cake if you only have two cake pans, like I do! I bake two layers, and let the rest of the batter sit out at room temp, covered with a kitchen towel while they bake. Once the first two layers are baked and removed from the pans, I run one pan under cold water to cool it down, then wash it out and grease + flour it again and bake the third layer on its own. It will only take about 20 minutes for this one, since the heat isn't being distributed between two things.
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