Christmas Wreath Cake

Christmas Wreath Cake
Servings: 16 Prep 1 day Bake 350°F 30 mins to 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 box (1 pound) powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
  • Leaf green soft gel paste food color
  • 3 teaspoons marzipan
  • 1/4 cup sliced natural almonds (not blanched)
  • Cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Italian Meringue:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Make It

Pine Needles:

1. Beat together on low speed in small bowl confectioners sugar, meringue powder, cream of tartar and warm water until combined. Increase speed to high and beat for 10 minutes or until thick and glossy. Add food color paste for desired shade. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of icing until ready to use. Line three large baking sheets with waxed paper. Fit medium-size pastry bag with coupler and plain writing tip. Fill with green icing. Pipe Pine Needle clusters in various sizes onto lined baking sheets. For each cluster, pipe four or five individual needles, about 1 inch long; pipe back and forth in one continuous motion without the tip leaving the waxed paper so each needle is a double thickness for added strength. Make more clusters of varying sizes with remaining icing. Let dry at room temperature for 5 hours or up to 1 day.

2.

3. Pine cones: Shape 1 teaspoon of the marzipan into cone shape, about 1 inch long. Place sliced almonds, pointed side down and dark side up, overlapping, into one one side of marzipan to form Pine cone. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside. Repeat with remaining marzipan and almonds.

Cake:

4. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper; coat paper with cooking spray. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl. Melt chocolate in small saucepan over low heat. Beat together butter and sugar on medium-high speed in large bowl for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and cooled chocolate; beat until combined. On low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with milk in three additions, beginning and ending with flour; beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until well blended. Evenly divide batter between two prepared pans.

5. Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until cakes spring back when gently touched on top and wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Gently run knife around edge of cakes. Turn out onto wire rack to cool completely. If necessary, trim top of cakes with serrated knife so they are level.

Italian Meringue:

6. Heat together sugar and water in small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until syrup registers 242 degrees F on candy thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes; brush down sides of pan with wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Meanwhile, place egg whites in deep bowl in stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

7. When syrup reaches temperature, remove from heat. Beat egg whites on medium-high speed for about 15 seconds. Carefully pour hot syrup down sides of bowl unto whites without hitting whisk; beat 5 minutes on medium-high speed or until very thick. Add the vanilla and salt; beat on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until glossy peaks form.

Decorate:

8. Place small dollop of Italian Meringue in middle of cake plate to anchor cake. Place one cake layer on plate. Spread 1-1/2 cups of the Italian Meringue over the top of the cake. Place the second layer on top. Use the reamining Italian Meringue to frost the top and sides of the cake.

9. With a small metal spatula, very gently pry the pine needles off the waxed paper. Arrange the needles in a random pattern around the top edge of the cake to form a wreath (the Pine Needles are very fragile and many will break as you place them on the cake; don't worry, as this will actually make the wreath look more authentic).

10. Randomly place the Pinecones and 1 tablespoon red-dot candies around the wreath. Form a decorative bow with a strip of strawberry rollup and attach to the cake.

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Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe: 16; Amount Per Serving: cal. (kcal): 589, Fat, total (g): 23, chol. (mg): 66, sat. fat (g): 9, carb. (g): 92, fiber (g): 4, pro. (g): 11, sodium (mg): 245, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.