Holiday Cakes

It’s February now so this post is LATE. Oh well, I can’t be perfect at everything. Anyway, this one is all about chocolate cake. I hope you enjoy, I sure did – I’ve got a couple extra pounds to prove it.

My all-time favorite dessert is fluffy, moist chocolate cake with a light whipped topping (plain whipped cream is my jam). So I was stoked when my mom requested a chocolate cake for Thanksgiving AND Christmas. In my family these holidays are generally cake-less, dessert is usually pumpkin and pecan pie and assorted cookies. Nothing is ever chocolate, and cake is never in the equation.

I decided to be *extra* for Thanksgiving and made a four layer behemoth, this thing weighed about 7 lbs after all was said and done. Both cake and buttercream recipes are from one of my favorite IG cake makers, Chelsweets. Her American buttercream recipe has been my go-to for over a year and it’s super easy to work with, even for a cake novice like me. I used her moist chocolate cake recipe for the first time and it turned out pretty great, though I personally prefer a darker chocolate flavor.

For this cake, I even went out and got a spatula specifically to attempt smoothing the sides of my buttercream like all the cakers on IG seem to do so easily (note: it was NOT easy and many swear words went into this Thanksgiving dessert). I topped the cake with a chocolate melt drip and globs of extra buttercream. Before you scroll any further, I’m going to apologize for the quality of the below photos now, it couldn’t be helped, I was tired AF.


I also whipped up some pumpkin spice macarons for my cake-hating husband. I didn’t bother putting them on a fancy platter because I was out of shits to give.

For Christmas, my mom was super specific about the cake she wanted. She’d seen an article in our local paper with a cake recipe, cut it out, and handed it to me. I was a little hesitant to make this one because the recipe involved a box cake mix, something I’ve pompously avoided for years because in my mind, if it’s not scratch made, what’s the point? I may as well go buy a damn cake.

However, I decided to give the full recipe a try and regretfully purchased the box of cake mix and a packet of instant chocolate pudding that was apparently essential to this cake (I’ll add the full recipe from The Spokesman-Review below).

While the cake did turn out really pretty, and I preferred the whipped mousse topping to a heavier buttercream, I could definitely taste the difference between the box mix and a real homemade cake. If that’s something that would bother you, just go for a scratch cake batter instead.

Because it was December, I wasn’t able to locate the fresh strawberries listed in the recipe and opted for blackberries instead. This turned out to be an excellent idea, the blackberries were PERFECT with the chocolate mousse and (in my opinion) I don’t think strawberries would be as complementary.

So, here it is, my Christmas cake. Like I said, it looked pretty, which was awesome because it was hella simple to put together.


Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe (including my changes, courtesy of The Spokesman-Review, adapted from Buddy Valastro)



  • 1 box instant chocolate pudding (pretty sure you could omit this if you wanted to)
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix for 8-in (or homemade cake batter)
  • 2 pints of strawberries (consider going with blackberries, trust me)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate shavings (I grated a 60% dark chocolate bar)


  • 1 1/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder



Add dry pudding mix and chocolate chips to your cake batter and prepare according to instructions on cake mix box (or your scratch recipe). Bake into two 8-in rounds. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.


Place chocolate chips in a medium heat proof bowl. Add heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat on medium high, until edges just start to boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate chips. Allow to stand for 3-5 minutes and then whisk until smooth and shiny. Let cool until thickened and pour into pastry bag. Set aside until ready to use.


Combine cream, sugar, and cocoa in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk into firm, stiff peaks. Place mousse into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and refrigerate until ready for use.


Place your first cake layer on a serving plate. Pipe swirls of mousse 1-in tall over the entire cake layer. Top with half of the berries. Snip the tip of the ganache bag and pipe stripes over the berries and mousse. Pipe a dollop of mousse in the center over the top of the berries and ganache and place second cake layer on top, pressing lightly to secure. Pipe swirls of mousse over the top of the cake to cover it, then pipe a rosette in the center. Place berries around the rosette and stripe leftover ganache over the top of the cake to finish.

You can get fancy with it and add extra mousse swirls around the bottom of the cake like I did. It’s a great way to use up leftover mousse (or frosting) and it can coverup any wonky edges at the bottom of your cake.

Author: jenlikesthings

Coffee. Food. Crafts. Hiking. Dogs.

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