I stumbled upon the magic of cranberry Christmas poke cake while searching for a festive dessert that could become a new holiday tradition in my family. With its vibrant red cranberries and snowy white frosting, it’s like a slice of holiday cheer on a plate.
I’ve tweaked the recipe to perfection, ensuring each bite is a blend of tart and sweet, with a delightful burst of cranberry in every forkful.
This cake isn’t just another holiday recipe; it’s a show-stopper that’s bound to become the centerpiece of your Christmas dessert table.
My years of baking experience and countless kitchen experiments have led me to this mouthwatering creation, and I’m excited to share it with you. Keep reading to discover how to bring this festive treat to life—it’s a gift your taste buds will thank you for.
What is a Cranberry Christmas Poke Cake?
The Basics of a Poke Cake
A poke cake is exactly what it sounds like: a cake you poke holes into after baking. But it’s not just about poking holes for fun; these cavities are purposefully made to allow a filling to seep into the cake, creating moist, flavorful pockets.
Typically, the filling is a flavored gelatin, pudding, or pureed fruit. Once the filling sets, poke cakes become incredibly tender with bursts of flavor contrasting with the traditional cake base. This technique isn’t just a clever way to infuse flavors but also ensures that every slice is as moist as the last.
Adding a Festive Twist with Cranberries
When it’s time to add a festive twist, cranberries come into play. This bright red fruit isn’t just rich in color and tartness; it’s packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. For the Cranberry Christmas Poke Cake, the cranberry element transforms the dish into a seasonal sensation.
To incorporate cranberries, I take a two-pronged approach: a homemade cranberry sauce that serves as the poke filling, and a scattering of fresh or dried cranberries on top for garnish.
The result is a stunning dessert that’s both beautiful and delicious, with the cranberries complementing the cake’s sweetness and adding a touch of holiday cheer to every bite. This cake doesn’t simply carry the essence of a traditional poke cake but elevates it with a seasonal flare that’s hard to resist.
Embedding cranberries not only contributes to the visual appeal but also ensures that with each slice, there’s a harmonious balance of flavor—to the delight of Christmas revelers at any festive gathering.
Ingredients for Cranberry Christmas Poke Cake
Creating the perfect Cranberry Christmas Poke Cake starts with gathering the right ingredients. Each layer requires specific components to bring out the festive flavor and visual appeal. Let’s take a closer look at what we’ll need for each part of the cake.
The base of our poke cake is crucial as it’s the foundation that will hold in all the delicious flavors. For this recipe, 2 White Cake Mixes each weighing 15.25 ounces will do the trick.
What’s great about using cake mixes is that they ensure consistency and save on preparation time.
To make the cake mixes, we’ll need 6 Large Eggs, 1 Cup of Vegetable Oil, and a combination of 1 Cup of Cold Water and 1 Cup of Whole Milk. The eggs provide the necessary structure, the oil keeps the cake moist, and the milk adds a creamy richness that water alone can’t achieve.
Using cold and boiling water at different stages ensures the right texture and a fully baked cake.
Jello and Cranberry Sauce Layer
After the cake base is prepared and baked, it’s time to focus on the jello and cranberry sauce layer. This is where our poke cake gets its distinct cranberry flavor and moist texture. We’ll use a 3-ounce Box of Cranberry Jello to achieve the vibrant color and tangy taste.
The gelatin component in Jello helps in setting the cranberry layer within the poked holes of the cake.
Alongside the Jello, I’ll incorporate 1 Can of Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce, weighing 15 ounces. The cranberry sauce introduces natural berry chunks creating pockets of flavor that complement the sweet cake.
Make sure to prepare the Jello using the right ratio of boiling water to get the consistency just perfect for pouring into the cake.
Whipped Cream Topping
To complete the cake, a fluffy whipped cream topping is essential. It balances the tartness of the cranberry layer and adds a light, airy texture to the dessert.
An 8-ounce Tub of Cool Whip will serve as our whipped cream topping. The advantage of using Cool Whip is that it’s pre-whipped and holds up well as a topping, making cake assembly simple and hassle-free.
The whipped topping is gently spread over the cranberry layer once the Jello has set. This layer also gives a professional finish to the cake, making it as delightful to look at as it is to eat.
Preparing the Cake Base
To start my Cranberry Christmas Poke Cake, I preheat my oven to 325 degrees and prepare my 9×13 cake pan by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray. In my large mixing bowl, I combine two white cake mixes with the required eggs, vegetable oil, whole milk, and cold water.
Ensuring a smooth and lump-free batter is crucial, so I beat the mixture diligently using my hand mixer, accepting its thin consistency as perfect for this recipe. Once ready, I pour the batter into my greased cake pan, and then it’s time for it to bake.
The cake should bake for 50-60 minutes, and it’s done when a toothpick, inserted a bit deeper than the surface, comes out clean. After baking, I let the cake cool for approximately 20 minutes before moving on to the next step.
Creating the Jello and Cranberry Sauce Layer
Once the cake base is adequately cooled, the action really starts. I grab a wooden spoon and carefully create holes over the top of the cake, each about an inch apart, plunging in only halfway. In a medium mixing bowl, I prepare the cranberry jello with boiling water, stirring until fully dissolved.
The next critical step is to pour the jello over the cake, ensuring that I fill each hole and evenly cover the cake’s surface. The subtlety of this process cannot be overstated; it’s what provides the burst of cranberry flavor in every bite.
Now, patience is key—I cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for no less than 4 hours to allow the jello to set.
Adding the Whipped Cream Topping
The final flourish to this festive dessert is the whipped cream topping. For this, I take the whole berry cranberry sauce and work it over with a fork until it takes on the appearance of a homemade sauce.
I’m careful to ensure no large chunks remain. The cranberry sauce is then folded into an 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip until they’re completely combined. I take my time with this step because I want a consistent, creamy texture throughout.
Then, I spread this luscious topping all over the chilled cake, making this the crowning glory of the dessert. It’s not just the flavor that makes this topping vital—it’s the light and airy texture it adds to the cake, making it absolutely mouthwatering.
Once frosted, the cake is ready to slice and serve. I make sure that every plate has a generous piece of this beautiful Cranberry Christmas Poke Cake, certain to delight everyone who tries it.
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Serving and Presentation Tips
I’ve walked you through the delightful process of creating a Cranberry Christmas Poke Cake that’s sure to dazzle your holiday guests. It’s not just about the taste—it’s also about the presentation.
To serve, slice this festive treat with a sharp knife dipped in hot water for clean cuts that showcase the layers. Garnish with fresh cranberries and a sprig of mint for a touch of elegance.
Trust me when I say that this cake isn’t just a dessert, it’s a centerpiece that’ll spark conversations and compliments. So go ahead, give it a try and watch it become a new holiday tradition in your home.
Cranberry Poke Cake
- 2 White Cake Mixes 15.25 ounces each
- 6 Large Eggs
- 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 Cup Cold Water + 1 Cup Boiling Water
- 1 Cup Whole Milk
- 1 Box Cranberry Jello 3 ounces
- 1 Can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce 15 ounces
- 1 Tub Cool Whip 8 ounces
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray a deep 9x13 cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the two cake mixes, eggs, oil, milk, and 1 cup of cold water. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until no lumps appear. It will seem thin, but this is what you want.
- Pour into your prepared cake pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake (deeper than just the top bit of cake) comes out clean. Let cool for about 20 minutes.
- With the handle of a wooden spoon, or with a similarly shaped object, poke holes in the cake. There should be a hole about every inch and be careful to not go all the way through the cake. Just go a little over halfway through with the holes.
- Pour jello mix in a medium mixing bowl and add in boiling water. Stir until jello is dissolved. Place jello in a pourable container.
- Slowly pour jello over the top of the cake, first covering the holes and then any surface of the cake left after that.
- Place cake in fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for 4 hours or until the jello is set.
- To prepare the frosting, place cranberry sauce in a medium mixing bowl and use a fork or other utensil to break it up until no large chunks remain and it resembles a homemade style cranberry sauce.
- Add cool whip to the bowl with the cranberry sauce and fold it together until fully combined.
- Frost the top of the cake with the mixture. Slice, serve, and enjoy!