Whether you turn this cake into a reindeer or decorate it using your own vision, it’s a three-layer stunner that will command center stage at your next holiday get-together. Embrace your baking prowess! —Lauren Knoelke, Des Moines, IA Prep: 1 hour • Bake: 25 min. + cooling • Makes: 20 servings 2¹ ₄ cups cake flour
1¹ ₂ cups sugar
3¹ ₂ tsp. baking powder ¹₂ tsp. salt ¹₂ cup unsalted butter, cubed 4 large egg whites, room temperature ³₄ cup 2% milk, divided 1 tsp. clear vanilla extract ¹₂ tsp. almond extract ¹₃ cup red and green jimmies
BUTTERCREAM 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped ¹₄ cup heavy whipping cream 6 large egg whites
1¹ ₂ cups sugar ¹ ₂ tsp. cream of tartar ¹ ₂ tsp. salt
2 cups unsalted butter, cubed
1¹ ₂ tsp. vanilla extract ¹ ₂ cup baking cocoa
Paste food coloring
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottoms of three 6-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease and flour parchment and sides of pans.
2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat in the butter until crumbly. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in ¹₄ cup milk and extracts; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining milk. Gently fold in jimmies.
3. Transfer batter to prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
4. For buttercream, in a microwave, melt chocolate with cream until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Set mixture aside to cool slightly. In a heatproof bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt until blended. Place over simmering water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisking constantly, heat mixture until a thermometer reads 160°, 8-10 minutes.
5. Remove from heat. With whisk attachment of stand mixer, beat on high speed until cooled to 90°, about 7 minutes. Gradually beat in butter, a few tablespoons at a time, on medium speed until smooth; beat in vanilla and the chocolate mixture. Gradually beat in sifted baking cocoa.
6. Spread frosting between layers and over the top and sides of cake. Divide remaining buttercream into smaller portions; stir in the food coloring to achieve desired colors. Decorate as desired. Store in the refrigerator.
1 slice: 463 cal., 28g fat (17g sat. fat), 65mg chol., 242mg sod., 52g carb. (37g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g pro.