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Holiday celebration cake with layers of chocolate cake, butter custard filling and whipped topping piped on top

Holiday Celebration Cake

Melinda | Missouri Girl
This over the top cake is the perfect choice for your next special occasion. Moist chocolate cake with a butter custard filling and a Italian buttercream and chocolate ganache topping.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Cooling Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12


Cake Batter:

  • 1 box chocolate, fudge or devils food cake mix
  • 1 box (3.6-3.8) chocolate (dark or milk) pudding mix
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Butter Custard:

  • 10 large egg yolks reserved 2 of the egg white for the Italian buttercream
  • cup sugar
  • cup very warm milk
  • 1 teaspoon 1 vanilla
  • 20 tbsp (2.5 sticks) salted butter

Chocolate Ganache:

  • ½ cup dark chocolate chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tablespoon salted butter

Italian Buttercream:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • teaspoon cream of tarter
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks salted butter very soft and cut into tablespoons


Make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl combine the cake mix, pudding mix, sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, water, sour cream, and vanilla.
  • Beat on medium speed with hand held mixer for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Divide the batter between 2 greased 9-inch round nonstick pans.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (mine took 22 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into middle of the cake.
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 20-30 minutes then carefully remove the cakes from the pan by inverting onto a plate.
  • Allow the cakes to cool completely.

Make the Vanilla Butter Custard:

  • While the cake is baking, Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a medium heavy sauce pan. Stir well.
  • Slowly add the warm milk, stirring constantly until combined. Heat over medium-low to medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat proof spoon.
  • Cook until the egg mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about 20 minutes. Careful not to heat the mixture too quick as it can curdle.
  • Once the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon, turn off the heat and add vanilla and butter (4 tablespoon at a time), stirring until well incorporated.
  • Pass the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap (touching the top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming) and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Make the ganache:

  • After the cakes have cooled, make the ganache.
  • Place the chocolate chips, cream, and butter in a small microwaveable bowl.
  • Microwave on high until mixture is warm and the chocolate begins to melt.
  • Stir until chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth.

Make the Italian Meringue Buttercream:

  • Add 2 egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to a stand mixer with whisk attachment.
  • Turn the mixer on low for about 20 seconds to combine the ingredients and then increase the speed to high.
  • After 1 minute, slowly add in 2 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon sugar.
  • Continue to beat on high speed until soft peak stage (the meringue with be slightly firm but the peak will flop when the whisk is inverted).
  • Turn the mixer off and set aside. Add ½ cup sugar and 2 tablespoon +2 teaspoon water to a small sauce pan and mix well to dissolve the sugar.
  • Add a candy thermometer to the side.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, swirling the liquid in the pan occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Boil until the liquid reaches 240 degrees.
  • This can happen quickly so don’t walk away!
  • Turn the mixer on low and gently add the sugar syrup SLOWLY in a stream to the egg whites.
  • Be VERY careful as the sugar is VERY hot.
  • Turn the mixer to medium speed and continue whipping until the meringue is cool to the touch (if it’s too warm, your butter will melt in the next step).
  • With the mixer on medium speed, add 1 tablespoon butter at a time until all of the butter is added.
  • Make sure each tablespoon of butter is incorporated before adding the next.
  • Do not be concerned when your meringue deflates some at this point.
  • It will gain its structure back after all the butter is added.
  • Turn the speed up to medium-high and whip until the buttercream is silky and fluffy.
  • If it remains on the soupy side, then place it in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes, then whip once again.

Assemble the Cake:

  • Level the top of each cake and then cut each in half, horizontally.
  • Fill each layer with ½ cup (a little over) of the Vanilla Butter custard.
  • Top with chocolate ganache.
  • Pipe the Italian Buttercream onto the top of the cake using a #21 star tip and piping bag.
  • Refrigerate unused buttercream.
  • Eat the cake immediately or keep chilled in the refrigerator.
  • Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving. 
Keyword birthday cake, decadent cake, holiday cakes, holiday desserts, New years desserts, special cake recipes, special occasion cakes