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Special occasions deserve a special dessert. So this Christmas you may want to try this Cranberry Christmas Cake. It is remarkably similar to a Black Forest Cake, only instead of cherries, we are filling the cake with sweet yet tangy candied cranberries. It starts with a chocolate genoise, that is filled chocolate whipped cream and the candied cranberries. And then the whole cake is covered with a stabilized whipped cream frosting. So festive, so beautiful, and so delicious. The perfect party cake.

This Cranberry Christmas Cake is very loosely based on a recipe I found in Alice Medrich 's excellent book 'Cocolat'. I think some people shy away from making party cakes as they are a lot of work. The key to success is to make some of the components ahead of time. You can make the chocolate genoise ahead and refrigerate it for up to three days or it can be frozen for a month. The candied cranberries can be made and refrigerated for two weeks. That way when you want to make this cake all you need to do is to make the chocolate filling and whipped cream frosting and then assemble the cake. I find it best to make this cake at least a day before you want to serve it so the flavors have time to soften and mingle.

Like other sponge cakes, a Genoise is leavened solely by the air beaten into the egg and sugar mixture. To make a light and airy genoise we first warm the eggs and sugar, over a water bath, which melts the sugar so that the eggs will reach their full volume when beaten. The eggs and sugar are beaten until thick and cool, and you will notice that the batter will become lighter and paler in color as it thickens. Warm melted butter (can use clarified butter) is added the the batter which makes the genoise light and tender with a nice flavor. The melted butter needs to be warm, however, so it does not solidify once it is added to the cake batter, causing streaks, or worse yet, causing the batter to deflate.

The Whipped Cream Frosting is stabilized with gelatin. This makes it firm enough to pipe and it will hold longer at room temperature. For this recipe we are using unflavored powdered gelatin but you can use 10 grams of gold leaf sheet gelatin instead. Powdered unflavored gelatin is sold on the baking isle of grocery stores and is packaged in small boxes that contain four paper envelopes of powdered gelatin. We need just one - 1/4 ounce (7 grams) (scant tablespoon) envelope. Unflavored gelatin is tiny granules that are tasteless, colorless, and odorless. It is used as a thickening agent but only becomes active when dissolved in a hot liquid.

Continue to the Cranberry Christmas Cake recipe page.......

Let's get baking!

Stephanie Jaworski

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