Chocolate Yule Log
We've managed to transform naughty into nice with this rich dark-chocolate sponge cake filled with a delicate, yogurt-lightened whipped cream. We cut the amount of sugar in half, letting the intensity of the chocolate in the sponge cake shine—go ahead and splurge on a higher-quality bar. The thick, creamy texture of Greek yogurt complements the whipped cream quite perfectly, with a fraction of the sat fat and calories. Skip the powdered sugar dusting, and use fresh raspberries, mini pinecones, fresh pine needles, or even fresh mint to decorate. Add 1⁄4 teaspoon peppermint extract to the whipped cream filling for a cool, minty kick.
Fresh Gingerbread Squares
Teff flour is a soft, almost-fluffy whole-grain flour with an intense nuttiness that makes it excellent for baking. But the beauty of fresh gingerbread is finding the perfect texture—delicate yet dense—so we add a bit of hearty whole-wheat flour to give this treat a heftier, more winter-worthy base. Stout beers adds a pleasantly earthy bitterness that complements the molasses, fresh finger, and cinnamon; any frothy leftovers will pair nicely with a still-warm baked square. If you don't have any stout on hand, simply use 1/4 cup additional buttermilk instead.
The texture of this cake is ethereal—it’s moist and airy, yet filled with rich flavor from the macadamia nuts and almond flour. Keep in mind, if you use our formula for homemade almond flour, you won’t have a gluten-free product. If you want a gluten-free option you can purchase store-bought almond flour—just check the label to make sure the only ingredient listed is almonds. Cool this cake thoroughly before slicing for the best results. This cake will keep for 2 to 3 days, but the sugary crust won’t last more than a day. If you want to substitute hazelnut flour, you can, with similarly spectacular results.
Carrot-Apple Spice Cake with Browned-Butter Glaze
We challenged ourselves to come up with a showstopping dessert that uses boxed cake mix as a starting point—and we succeeded. Fresh carrot and apple plus a splash of bourbon boost the flavor of the layers, while the browned-butter glaze is, well, the wildly delicious icing on the cake.
New Classic Red Velvet Cake
Just the name "red velvet cake" suggests something elegant and rich—dramatic, supermoist layers of tinted chocolate cake coated in a dense, creamy white frosting. 'Tis the season for such decadent pleasures, right? Although it may be the time of year to splurge, it's hard to justify an 880-calorie, 57g-of-fat piece of cake. Ho-ho-holy cow! We had to find a better way to bake this favorite holiday cake and feel better about eating it, too.
Our secret weapon: red beets. Cooking the vibrant-red, naturally sweet vegetables with nonfat buttermilk and vanilla, and then pureeing them into a luscious cream adds an ultramoist, velvety texture to the cake that also allows us to use less oil and butter—a savings of 255 calories and 22g fat. Double bonus: The red beet color eliminates any need for artificial dye.
Tropical Gingerbread Cake
Skip the cookies or time-consuming houses this year and go straight for a sky high layer cake that has that same great, holiday-inspired spices of your favorite gingerbread recipe. For taller layers, use two (eight-inch) pans and bake just until a toothpick comes out clean. You can also swap the orange marmalade for lime or ginger preserves.
Peppermint Ice Cream Cake
Why go out and buy an ice cream cake when you can make one? The peppermint ice cream makes this cake unique, and the crushed peppermints on top make for a pretty presentation. Surprise a friend on their birthday or bring this festive cake to a Christmas party.
Chocolate-Orange Layer Cake
We love the classic flavor combination in this light, moist layer cake. Instead of a full frosting, simply spoon a warm chocolaty glaze over the two layers. Rich indulgent chocolate meets a fresh, zingy hint of citrus that makes this the perfect dessert for entertaining.
Black Forest Cherry Cake
The original cake has many layers; our streamlined version is easy to assemble and doesn't sacrifice any flavor or presentation panache. The heavy cherry filling may cause the cake to sink slightly in the center once assembled, but it won't detract from the stunning presentation—especially once it is aglow with birthday candles.
Coconut Layer Cake with Marshmallow Frosting
Yellow Butter Cake with Vanilla Meringue Frosting
After a slice of this show-stopping cake, you'll never be able think of vanilla as "basic" again. You'll find potato starch on the baking aisle at most of your local supermarkets and health-food stores. Also known as potato flour, it helps ensure the cake will have a fine crumb and moist texture.
Vanilla Cake with Italian Meringue Frosting
Our Italian meringue covered cake makes a beautiful and festive addition to any birthday celebration. Sweet vanilla cake is light and buttery—it won’t leave party-goers feeling overindulged.
For those who say it's not dessert if it's not chocolate: Creamy milk chocolate mousse is sandwiched between intensely chocolaty cake layers.
Banana Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Mashed banana adds more than just flavor to this cake—it also keeps the layers moist.
Caramel Layer Cake
Work quickly to spread the frosting on the cake before it begins to set. We call for light brown sugar in the cake to lend a subtly sweet flavor, but dark brown in the frosting to provide a contrasting rich caramel flavor that your birthday party-goers will love. You can use light brown sugar for both the cake and frosting, if you prefer.
Semolina Almond Orange Cake
You can bake this cake in four mini loaves, and you can also double the recipe to share. Because this batter should not sit around waiting to go in the oven, make sure two Bundt pans will fit on your oven's middle rack before doubling it. To transport or ship overnight, cool and wrap the cake on a cardboard cake circle or plate using plastic wrap; place in a box with little wiggle room.
Chocolate-Zucchini Loaf Cake
Zucchini squash is available year-round and is the secret to keeping this cake moist.
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: If you have two loaf pans available, then double the mix. Cool and wrap baked cakes whole and unglazed in plastic wrap. To ship overnight, pack securely in a box, or gather a pretty cloth around the cake to hand-deliver. The icing is wet; pour it into a zip-top bag and include instructions to snip the corner and drizzle onto the cake.
Raspberry-Swirl Mini Bundt Cakes
It's best to make one batch of cakes at a time (don't double the batter), though you can easily double the raspberry mixture. If you don't have a minibundtlette pan, you can make one large Bundt cake instead. If you have an 8-cup Bundt pan, that's ideal, but a 10-cup pan will work, too (the cake just won't be as tall). Bake at 350° for 25 to 28 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Spreading the batter evenly in minibundtlette cups can be a little tricky. Try spooning the batter into a large zip-top plastic bag; then snip off one bottom corner of the bag, and pipe batter into cups.
Pretty Packaging: To keep cakes looking their best, make sure the glaze is fully set before packaging. For individual treats, place one cake on a tissue paper square, place into a cellophane bag, and tie with ribbon.
Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze
We take the classic flavors of pumpkin pie (pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg) and transform them into a tall, moist, tender Bundt cake. Whole-wheat flour enhances the fall flavors without sacrificing the tender crumb. To finish it off: a smooth, shiny bittersweet chocolate glaze that drips into all the nooks and crannies. Look for baking spray (cooking spray with fine flour added), or simply coat the pan with cooking spray, add a tablespoon of flour, and shake gently to coat. If you don't have a Bundt pan, you can bake in two standard loaf pans. Cut the loaves into slices, and drizzle the glaze over each serving.
Citrus Upside-Down Cake with Sour Whipped Cream
Like salt, sour's contrasting flavor keeps sweetness in check, ultimately boosting it to its sweetest potential.
Rum-Raisin Bundt Cake
Rum-Raisin Bundt Cake proves to be the perfect cake for gift-giving. The batter makes enough for a 10-cup Bundt cake and 6 mini Bundts.
Candied fruit is swapped for fresh, whole-wheat flour adds nutty goodness, and a drizzle of apple brandy finishes with just enough glazy goodness.
OURS 283 calories, 2.9g sat fat
CLASSIC 574 calories, 8g sat fat
SAVES 291 calories, 5.1g sat fat