chocolate raspberry cake with mascarpone frosting

Chocolate Raspberry Cake for Christmas Dessert

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If you’re still looking for a beautiful dessert idea for your holiday dinner, then look no further than this chocolate raspberry cake. This decadent holiday dessert recipe will produce a moist chocolate cake with a raspberry filling and a mascarpone frosting.

Raspberry Cake Filling

I obtained the original recipe for this raspberry chocolate cake from the chocolate and carrots blog and was inspired to give it a twist for my own holiday dinner.

The raspberry filled layers in this chocolate cake are absolutely dreamy!

You could really call this a chocolate raspberry jam cake because the raspberry filling consists of raspberry preserves. The preserves give the raspberry sauce its sweet and sticky consistency.

Other than the raspberry preserves, you’ll find frozen raspberries in the sauce, adding wonderful texture, as well as cornstarch, which helps thicken the sauce up.

Chocolate and raspberry have always been a trusted duo; I’m sure you’ve seen dark chocolate truffles with a raspberry filling. Since chocolate is slightly bitter and the raspberries are sweet, you get a nice balance between the two.

In fact, I make this chocolate raspberry cake for my sister’s birthday every year because its her favorite flavor combination.

chocolate raspberry cake layers

Gourmet Chocolate

Because this is a chocolate and raspberry cake, you’re going to need to bake some actual chocolate cake layers. Before you think of busting out any chocolate cake mix, consider the recipe shared here for chocolate cake layers from scratch.

Because I’m here to tell you that with this recipe, you can expect nothing less than perfectly moist and decadent cake layers.

For a special touch, I like to use rich baking cocoa, like the Ghirardelli brand. Ghirardelli is a gourmet chocolate maker and produces a variety of chocolate ingredients, including unsweetened baking cocoa, which is what you need for this recipe.

If you wanted to make a dark chocolate raspberry cake, you could also use something like Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa. Either option will produce a decadent chocolate cake.

Just be sure that you don’t pick up hot cocoa powder; that’s very different from baking cocoa, mainly it’s much sweeter.

Some tips to keep in mind when you’re baking your chocolate raspberry cake layers:

  • Sift your flour and cocoa. To prevent any little lumps in your cake, you’ll want to make sure you sift your flour and cocoa using a sieve. This is especially true for the cocoa which tends to clump easily.
  • Prepare your cake pans well. This cake is super moist meaning it will easily stick to your cake pans. To prevent this, grease your cake pans well with something like baking spray, and then line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

The chocolate cake layers can take anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven.

This can seem like a big range, but the reality is that some readers have had success baking their cakes for 40 minutes while others have had success baking them longer (including myself) up to 60 minutes.

Your best bet is to simply check on your cake layers at the 40 minute mark, and then give them a check every 5 minutes after that.

Once the chocolate cake layers come out of the oven, they will need to rest in their pans until they’re completely cool. If you set the pans on a wire rack, this will help speed up the cooling process since the pans will get some cool air circulating underneath them as well.

chocolate raspberry cake covered in mascarpone frosting with festive topping

Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

This easy chocolate raspberry cake recipe is really simple to put together, and the design on top is even easier. Instead of spending time assembling chocolate molds or creating marzipan figures, we rely on a luxurious mascarpone frosting to do all the decorative work.

The goal for this chocolate raspberry cake with mascarpone frosting is to make the frosting look like snow.

In order to this, you need to whisk your mascarpone frosting a little bit longer than you normally might. Typically, when you make frosting, the goal is to whisk it until it’s thick yet smooth.

That’s why people use offset spatulas and all sorts of other pastry tools to get beautifully smooth and neatly frosted cakes. For a snowy effect, we’re going to forego all that.

You’ll notice that when you whisk your mascarpone frosting for a longer period of time, it will begin to curdle and become slightly clumpy. All frosting recipes will do this.

In fact, did you know this is how cream is churned into butter? If you whisk cream on high speed for a long enough time (or throw it into a food processor), it will eventually clump and become butter!

In the case of this chocolate raspberry cake, we don’t want to whisk it so long that it becomes a clumpy mass, but rather just long enough to give it the look of powdered snow.

I also made sure to go easy on frosting the sides of this chocolate raspberry cake to achieve a more rustic, natural look of the cake. This is what bakers will typically refer to as a sort of naked cake.

chocolate raspberry cake for christmas holiday dessert

Chocolate Raspberry Dessert

To make this chocolate raspberry cake a truly festive dessert for your holiday dinner, you’ll just need a couple of more items to decorate the top of the cake with.

Once you’ve frosted your chocolate cake with the mascarpone frosting, you’re going to place a fresh pine sprig (thoroughly washed) on top of the cake with a couple of cinnamon sticks.

Some people are hesitant to use fresh pine on their cake, but I’ve never experienced any issues. Just be sure to wash the sprigs well.

If you’re still nervous, you can easily swap the pine for a sprig of rosemary or even faux greenery from the craft store.

To add the finishing touch to this chocolate raspberry cake, you’ll just want to add a handful of fresh raspberries on top.

When you’re ready to serve the cake, give the entire top of the cake a dusting of powdered sugar and you’ll end up with a holiday dessert that’s rustic, elegant, and très sophistiqué.

chocolate raspberry cake layers

Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

A decadent chocolate cake filled with a raspberry preserve sauce and covered in mascarpone frosting.


for the cake

  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

for the raspberry sauce

  • 1 cup raspberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp corn starch

for the frosting

  • 1.5 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, or 1 1/4 cup, adjust to taste
  • 2-4 tbsp heavy cream

for the design on top

  • 1 pine branch/sprig
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • powdered sugar for dusting


Make the Cake Layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease three 9” cake pans with baking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. To a medium size bowl, add the chocolate chips, then pour the hot coffee over them. Let it stand for a couple of minutes and then stir until the chocolate has melted.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer or using an electric mixer, beat the eggs until thickened and a pale yellow color. Slowly add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined.
  5. Divide the batter between the three cake pans. Bake on the middle racks of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour. Let the cakes rest in their pans until completely cool. If you have wire racks, set the pans on wire racks to cooler quicker. Then, invert the layers onto individual pieces of plastic wrap so that you can wrap each tightly until ready to use.

Make the Raspberry Filling

  1. For the raspberry sauce filling, add the corn starch to a small saucepan and whisk to get rid of any clumps.
  2. Add the raspberries and raspberry preserves to the pan. Cook over medium heat until everything is warm and heated through. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
  3. Make the Mascarpone Frosting
  4. For the frosting, beat the mascarpone and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric mixer until very fluffy and light.
  5. Add in the powdered sugar and whisk while streaming in 2 tablespoons of cream. If the frosting is too thick, add 2 more tablespoons of cream, or as needed. Whisk the cream long enough to get it slightly clumpy if you want to achieve the snowy effect. Otherwise, simply whisk until the frosting is thick and smooth.

To Assemble the Cake

  1. Place your first cake layer on a cake board or your cake stand. Smear (or pipe) a small bit of frosting along the rim of the cake layer. This will act as a border for your raspberry filling.
  2. Spoon raspberry sauce onto the center of the cake layer, spreading a thin layer with the back of the spoon, just until it reaches the frosting along the rim. The frosting acts as a barrier to keep the raspberry sauce from spilling over the edges. Place the second cake layer on top, then add a frosting border along the rim and raspberry sauce to the center like you just did with the first layer.
  3. Place the third cake layer on top, then use a rubber spatula to generously cover the top of the cake with mascarpone frosting and lightly smear the sides of the cake with your frosting too. Place your pine sprig onto the center of the cake, along with a couple of cinnamon sticks, and fresh raspberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Once you're ready to serve, dust the entire top of the cake with powdered sugar.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 12 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 679

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  1. I made this cake for a family Christmas party a few years ago and it was a huge hit. Is there anyway that I could make something similar as a cupcake?

    1. Hi Laura! You definitely could. I’d divide the cake into cupcake liners filling them mostly to the top (they won’t rise too much). And then if you want to fill them with the raspberry filling, use an apple corer to remove cake from the center of the baked cupcakes (effectively making a clean hole) that you can fill either using a pastry bag or just a small spoon and delicately pouring the filling in. I’d then just add the frosting on top just like you did with the original cake. If you want to do the same type of garnish, just add a single raspberry, a smaller piece of green (you could even cut up a rosemary spring in small pieces), and a small piece of a cinnamon stick (you can break up the cinnamon sticks into smaller pieces by snapping them). In terms of baking, I’d just bake the cupcakes for less time, checking on them at the 30 minute mark and then every 5 minutes after if it’s looking almost done.

  2. I made this for Christmas and followed the directions exactly. It turned out beautifully, and tasted amazing! Everyone loved it and I was so pleased that it came together so easily!!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe!!! My family was blown away!! Lol!!

    1. Thank you so much, Joyce! I somehow missed this comment, so sorry for the late reply! So glad you enjoyed it <3

  3. Can I make this cake the day before? It looks decadent and luscious, but I need make ahead options. Thank you and Merry Christmas

    1. Hi Crissy! Yes, you can. I’ve stored in a covered cake stand like this, and just pull out about 15 minutes before you want to serve it. It has dairy in the frosting so you wouldn’t want to leave it out too long, but the 15 minutes just allows for it to slightly warm from the very cold fridge temperature.

    1. Hi Lesley, it does not. Coffee is often used in chocolate desserts like this to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. 🙂

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