Layered Fudge Cake With Chocolate Ganache Candied Cranberries and Walnut Butter Buttercream Filling
Sweet Recipes

Fudge Cake With Walnut Butter Cranberry Buttercream Filling.

Cooks in 2 Hrs 30 Mins Difficulty Hard 0 comments

This from-scratch baked fudge cake is blanketed in a thick chocolate fudge ganache. It’s then filled with a luscious walnut butter and cranberry buttercream that is so delicious. Finally it enrobed in a thick fudge ganache and decorated with candied sugar cranberries and walnuts. This is a beautiful seasonal Christmas cake that makes an excellent fruitcake alternative. 

I love fruitcake, but sometimes a prettier cake is appreciated. The crystallized cranberries are the perfect piece de resistance on this chocolate cake. Think chocolate birthday cake with a one-of-a-kind new filling made from homemade walnut butter that’s so delicious you will want to eat it all up!

The cake itself is a lighter chocolate cake with a moist crumb. The cake is made with cocoa powder and boiling water, and the batter makes enough for two round cake pans. They bake up to a delicious old-fashioned-style chocolate cake that’s not overly thick. 

I love that because you can add a generous amount of the luscious walnut butter buttercream filling without making the cake overly tall. 

Semi-sweet chocolate fudge ganache tops this chocolate lover’s dream cake with a lovely finish!

slicing the fudge cake

Let’s get baking this beautiful Christmas chocolate fudge cake with its walnut butter buttercream filling!

This cake is more labor-intensive than cookies, but I promise it is worth the extra effort. 

First, you want to start by mixing the cake batter. You can work on the sugared cranberries once the cake is in the oven. As cakes need to cool one hundred percent before icing, it’s helpful to use this time wisely in prepping. 

Making the Chocolate Fudge Cake Batter:

So, let’s get the mixing bowl and get to work! Into the bowl, measure your butter, sugar, and cream as well as it will allow. You will then add the cocoa powder and boiling water, mixing well. 

To the chocolate batter, you can add all the dry ingredients. It’s getting a bit hard to mix, though, so go ahead and add the sour cream. This cake batter is thicker, so smooth it into the prepared baking pans. 

Be sure to level the cake batter with no overtly obvious highs or lows in the baking pans. This step is essential to keep the height of the finished cakes consistent. 

The cake will bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The Candied Sugared Cranberries For Decoration On Fudge Cake:

Now, we can work on the cranberries. I used frozen because I couldn’t find fresh food at the store. If you find fresh, they will likely be better without the added moisture that frozen will have. However, the frozen worked out beautifully, so don’t panic if it’s all you have. 

Start by dissolving the sugar in the water in a saucepan on the stove. Once the sugar water is heated, you can plop in the berries. They are going to sit in there for ten minutes. 

That is time to get a baking rack and cover it with parchments. The cranberries need to rest on the parchment for an hour. This step will allow the exterior of the berries to dry off enough to become sticky. That stickiness will enable them to grab the white granulated sugar afterward. 

So now that you have the cranberries on the rack to dry, be sure to give each berry a bit of room around it. We don’t want them to stick together. After an hour you can simply roll them in granulated sugar. That’s it. Store these pretty, festive berries in the fridge for up to three days covered.

rolling sugared cranberries in white sugar

Making the Walnut Butter:

We can move on to the walnut butter. It’s important to note that you can make walnut butter days ahead as it will last for up to two weeks in the fridge covered. 

You will need a good food processor or blender to make the walnut butter. I used my Ninja. Two full cups of walnuts are milled in the blender until they reach butter consistency. Now add a little honey. We want to take the bitterness out of the plain walnut butter, so don’t go nuts- no pun intended. 

That’s it to make the walnut butter. It’s pretty easy if I do say so myself. I am still trying to figure out why I haven’t made my nut butter before this.

Making the Walnut Butter Buttercream With Cranberries Filling:

I was determined to come up with a unique cake filling. One that was creamy, not overly sweet, and had a sumptuous texture. I succeeded with this walnut butter buttercream. 

We are using one cup of walnut butter with some butter and icing sugar to make the buttercream. Using your mixer, beat the filling until it is light and creamy. 

Now, we are going to take a few frozen cranberries. Chop them in halves or quarters to add to the buttercream. The extra bit of tartness is a pleasant reprieve from the sweetness of the chocolate ganache frosting. 

the finished cranberry walnut butter buttercream

Assembling the Fudge Cake:

Allow your cake to cool thoroughly before you try assembling it. On your cake plate, turn out the first cake layer. If you notice that it’s got a dome on it, use a cake knife to level it off. Filling a cake without removing its dome will result in a crooked mess. 

You can munch on the extra bit of unused cake while you work. Or if you, too, have kids, it’s a good time to call them in as testers. 

Put a generous amount of your walnut cranberry buttercream onto the cake layer. You must put the filling in the center of the cake and smooth the filling outwards, but leave an inch of space near the outer edge. If you don’t, it will ooze out the cake’s sides. Eek, I can attest that it’s messy when that happens. 

Layered Fudge Cake With Chocolate Ganache Candied Cranberries and Walnut Butter Buttercream Filling

Now that you have the filling on the bottom half, you can carefully turn out the upper layer. If you see the top is domed, ensure that the dome faces upwards as the top of the cake. 

Making the Chocolate Fudge Ganache for the Fudge Cake:

Lay the top layer of the fudge cake on, and off you go to get the chocolate ganache ready. In a small saucepan on medium heat, warm your heavy cream, and work in the chocolate chips when it’s hot. Remove it from the heat if you find it’s sticking too much. You want to pour that over your cake when the chocolate fully melts.

Simply dump it on the center of the top of the cake. It’s a thicker ganache, so it may need some spreading to the edges. We aren’t frosting the edge of the cake as we are just letting the fudgy chocolate lava roll down the sides as it wants to. 

Now, you can decorate as you wish with the sugared cranberries and walnut pieces. So pretty and inviting-looking, your guests will want a big slice of this delightful Christmas treat!


Cocoa Powder: This recipe uses cocoa powder for its chocolatiness. Cocoa powder doesn’t have added sugar and no added fats. 

Walnuts: This nut is relatively inexpensive and pairs with chocolate for a full-bodied flavor. 

Sour Cream: The cake is made with sour cream, which adds to the sweetness of the cake and makes it moist. Another reason to use sour cream in a chocolate cake is that it adds a creamy texture to the crumb.

Boiling Water: Adds a fluffy, soft texture to this moist fudge cake. It also intensifies the cocoa powder flavor. Adding boiled water may also aid in keeping that delicious cake fresher longer. 

Cranberries: This native fruit of Canada is always plentiful in the fall through Christmas. Cranberries are red, tart, and best when cooked. We’ve used frozen cranberries in this recipe.

Layered Fudge Cake With Chocolate Ganache Candied Cranberries and Walnut Butter Buttercream Filling1

Substitutions and add-ins to the cake and ganache.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: These chocolate chips are used frequently in ganache because they have more cocoa solids, making them ideal to pair with other flavors. If you prefer, you can use baker’s semi-sweet chocolate. 

Heavy Cream: This recipe used half and half cream to make the ganache. You can use a higher fat-like whipping cream if you would like. 

Cocoa Powder: The cocoa powder in this cake can be replaced with straight, unsweetened baker’s chocolate. (2 squares)

Sour Cream: This dairy product was used to add moisture and bring out the full flavor of the cocoa. However, if you prefer, you can use plain Greek yogurt with much the same result. Or if you have neither, you can use regular milk, although it will alter the cake’s outcome.

Expert Tips and Serving Suggestions:

There are a few tips for this fudge cake that I can recommend here. 

For making the sugared cranberries, allow enough time to work on them before they are needed. If you want, you can even make them the day ahead with fresh cranberries. They will keep if stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days. 

When making cake, it’s always important to not overmix. Too much mixing will lead to tunneling and toughness. 

If you have a domed surface on the bottom layer, use a cake knife or bread knife to level it off. 

Always frost and decorate your cake on the surface you are serving if you aren’t using a cake base (round).

Use a basting brush to remove unwanted cake crumbs from around the base of the cake. 

Always leave a minimum of half an inch between the edge of the cake and your filling. More if the filling is thin and likely to spread a lot. 

Store uneaten cake covered. It will keep for up to three days in the fridge. 

Serve as an after-dinner dessert or with a cup of coffee/tea. 

Layered Fudge Cake With Chocolate Ganache Candied Cranberries and Walnut Butter Buttercream Filling (1)

Layered Fudge Cake With Sugared Cranberries and Walnut Butter Buttercream Filling

Amber Bondar
This layered fudge cake is ideal for Christmas with the pretty, sugared cranberries and walnut pieces sitting a top the rich chocolate fudge ganache. Two layers of dense, moist fudge cake with walnut butter buttercream cranberry filling. It's a sumptuous dessert everyone will love. Enjoy a large slice as an after dinner dessert or as a celebration cake!
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 10


  • 2 Saucepan
  • 2 Mixing Bowls
  • 2 Measuring Cups
  • Tablespoons
  • Teaspoons
  • Wire Rack
  • parchment paper
  • Cake Knife Or bread knife
  • 2 8" Round Cake Pans
  • Stirring/Mixing Tools
  • Food Processor or Blender For Walnut Butter


Christmas Chocolate Fudge Layered Cake With Sugared Cranberries & Walnut Butter Buttercream Filling

Making the Sugared Cranberries

  • 1 Cup Frozen or Fresh Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Granulated White Sugar +½ a cup more
  • 1 Cup Water

Making the Fudge Cake Batter

  • Cup Flour
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • Tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ Tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ Cup Butter
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsps Cocoa Powder
  • ½ Cup Boiling Water
  • 2 Lrg Eggs
  • ½ Cup Sour Cream

Making the Walnut Butter

  • 2 Cups Walnuts
  • 2-3 Tbsps Raw Honey

Making the Walnut Butter Buttercream With Cranberries

  • 1 Cup Walnut Butter
  • ½ Cup Salted Butter
  • 2 Cups Icing/Confectioners Sugar
  • 2 Tbsps Torani Vanilla Bean Vanilla Syrup
  • ½ Cup Chopped Whole Cranberries

Chocolate Fudge Ganache

  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 3.5 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


Making the Sugared Cranberries

  • Put saucepan on med/high heat with water and one cup of white sugar.
  • Allow the mixture to come to a boil to dissolve the sugar.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add the cranberries and allow to sit for ten minutes.
  • Add parchment paper to a wire rack.
  • Remove cranberries from sugar syrup and place on parchment paper being careful to leave space around each one.
  • Leave wet cranberries to dry for one hour.
  • Measure the remaining sugar into a small bowl or on a plate.
  • Roll the sticky cranberries in the sugar to fully coat each one.
  • Store unused cranberries in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Making The Fudge Cake

  • In a large mixing bowl measure the flour, salt, baking powder and blend.
  • In another mixing bowl measure the butter and sugar and mix.
  • Add to the butter sugar mixture your cocoa powder.
  • Add the baking soda to the boiling water and pour over the cocoa butter mixture.
  • Stir well and then add the eggs. Mixing well after each addition.
  • Add the sour cream to the wet mixture and blend well.
  • Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and add the wet to the dry.
  • Blend cake batter only as much as needed.
  • Divide batter into two 8" prepared cake pans.
  • Bake in preheated 350℉ oven for 30 minutes or until cakes test for doneness.
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely before assembly.

Making the Walnut Butter

  • Measure the walnuts into your food processor or blender. Mix on high until they make a paste.
  • Add in the honey and mix well.
  • Store in a jar covered in the fridge for up to four weeks.

Making the Walnut Butter Buttercream With Cranberries

  • Add one cup of walnut butter to a mixing bowl.
  • Blend in ½ cup of butter.
  • Slowly mix in the confectioners sugar blending well after each addition.
  • Add the Torani Vanilla Bean Syrup and mix well.
  • Chop the cranberries in half or quarters and mix into the walnut butter buttercream.

Assembling the Cake.

  • Carefully remove cakes from pans.
  • Cut off any dome that may have formed on base cake layer.
  • Add a generous amount of filling to the center of the bottom cake layer.
  • Spread it outwards with a cake knife leaving one inch of space around the outer edge.
  • Place the top cake layer on the bottom layer.

Making the Chocolate Ganache

  • Heat cream in a saucepan stirring constantly.
  • When cream is hot add in the chocolate chips and melt.
  • Stir the chocolate chips into the cream and keep stirring until smooth.
  • Pour the thick fudge chocolate ganache over the top center of the cake.
  • It's a very thick ganache so spread as needed with cake knife.
  • Pushing it gently over the sides and let it drip down.


  • Use sugared cranberries and walnut pieces to decorate the top of the cake.
Keyword chocolate cake, Christmas cake, cranberries, fudge cake, walnut butter

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