Best Chocolate Christmas Cake with Chocolate Pocky Trees. this moist and fudgy chocolate cake recipe has sour cream for an ultra-tender and soft crumb. This festive chocolate cake is decorated with chocolate Christmas trees for the perfect dessert centerpiece for your holiday!
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BEST CHOCOLATE CHRISTMAS CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE POCKY TREES
This chocolate cake is rich, moist, and not as complicated to prepare as you may think. As well, it’s the softest, moistest and most delicious chocolate cake that you just may ever eat!
CHOCOLATE CAKE DRY INGREDIENTS
- Unsweetened cocoa powder. You’re probably familiar with this cocoa powder already. This is the most common cocoa powder, Hershey’s Naturally Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Do not use Dutched Cocoa. It is processed differently and will react differently than unsweetened natural cocoa powder. (Dutched cocoa is what is used to get that distinct chocolate flavor in Oreos and my wildly popular Dark Chocolate Brown Sugar Cookies.)
- All-purpose flour. All-purpose flour provides the structure needed. Do not use cake flour it’s too fine for this cake.
- Baking powder and baking soda. I used both to leaven the cake.
- Salt. I typically use salt in most chocolate recipes. It balances the flavor.
- Espresso powder. *Optional. Espresso powder is magical when combined with chocolate. It makes chocolate better but you won’t be able to taste the espresso. Your cake will not taste like coffee.
CHOCOLATE CHRISTMAS CAKE WET INGREDIENTS
- Oil. This cake needs oil. Use vegetable oil or canola oil. I do not recommend using butter in this recipe. However, if that’s all you have use melted butter or melted coconut oil. These two products change the texture slightly.
- Sour Cream. Sour Cream adds a slight tang and tenderizes gluten in the flour. You can also use buttermilk. As well, in a pinch, you can make your own buttermilk. Add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough room temperature whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1 cup. I don’t recommend low-fat milk for this recipe. Non-dairy milk is not as good but you can use almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
- Eggs. I used three large eggs at room temperature.
- Pure vanilla extract. I’m going to write that again, pure vanilla extract. Pure vanilla, NOT imitation vanilla, tastes so much better.
- Hot coffee. If you don’t have coffee you can use hot water, but coffee adds another layer of flavor. Therefore, I recommend hot coffee. As well, you can use decaf coffee.
DIRECTIONS FOR MIXING
For cakes, I always use my KitchenAid mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (Yes, that’s whisk, not the paddle.) However, you can totally whisk this cake hand if you prefer. (Full, printable recipe below.)
- Of course, turn your oven to 350°F and prep your pans. I use parchment paper as well as solid vegetable shortening to prep the pans.
- Next, add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Now, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. That’s the sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, and hot coffee. Mix on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes.
- Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom. Mix again until combined about 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t over-mix.
- You’ll have 6 cups of batter. Divide them equally between your cake pans. (Keep reading for cooking times for different sizes.)
- Finally, cool the cake completely in the pans on a wire rack. There’s a less likely chance of the cakes cracking or breaking when you cool them completely in the pans. If you lined the pans with both shortening and parchment paper you shouldn’t have trouble getting them out even though they are cool.
MY BEST CAKE-MAKING TIPS
- All the cold ingredients need to be at room temperature.
- This batter is thin, that’s correct.
- For this tender cake, I use parchment paper as well as solid vegetable shortening. Grease the pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the paper. This method will help ensure the layers come out without breaking.
- Remember the quality of your ingredients directly affects the taste of your cake.
- I have had success using 1 to 1 gluten-free flour in this recipe.
- Finally, I wrote this detailed post on How to Make the Chocolate Pocky Heart Decorations shown in the photos.
WANT MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES? YOU MUST TRY THESE!
- 5 Flavor Pound Cake
- Scratch-made Rum Pound Cake
- Hummingbird Cake Pound Cake
- Old School Southern Butter Pound Cake
- Limoncello Pound Cake
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Best Chocolate Christmas Cake with Chocolate Pocky Trees
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- 1 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour sifted then measured, spoon & level
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 and ¾ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
- 1 cup strong coffee hot
- 2 cups unsalted butter softened
- 3 and ½ cups confectioners' sugar sifted
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 to 5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or whole milk or half & half, room temp
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 Pocky sticks
- chocolate Wilton candy melts
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.
MAKE THE CAKE
- Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Add the wet ingredients (sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, and hot coffee) to the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes.
- Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom. Mix again until combined about 20 to 30 seconds. Don't over mix.
- Divide them equally between your cake pans.
- Bake for 23-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on it. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Even when they're done, the center may sink slightly.
- Cool the cake completely in the pans on a wire rack.
MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, 3 Tablespoons heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds or until creamy and smooth.
FROST THE CAKE
- If the cake layers are domed on top, use a large serrated knife to slice a thin layer off the tops to create a flat surface.
- Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Repeat if you have another layer.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before slicing it. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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