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Sharing my most festive holiday cake yet, the North Pole Cake. Three layers of buttery chocolate cake, layered with sweet chocolate ganache, and frosted generously with a browned butter vanilla frosting. Finish the cake off with a frosting dipped candy cane “north pole” and you’ll have the cutest holiday cake, that’s beyond delicious too.

{This post is sponsored by Land O’Lakes}

front on photo of North Pole Cake

I couldn’t let December pass by without sharing a festive holiday cake that’s both cute and delicious. As you can tell by now, I really like to do it up with the Christmas recipes. I have so much fun playing around with whimsical desserts.

Enter the layer cake, one of my favorite recipes to date.

I had two goals for this cake.

First, make it good. Chocolatey on the inside, but with a nutty vanilla frosting on the outside.

Second, make the cake feel as though you’ve entered the North Pole. Meaning, create a winter wonderland cake that’s just as fun to make as it is to eat.

North Pole Cake before frosting

For the base of the cake I actually tried a few different recipes before landing on a more simple chocolate cake. I really wanted my cake to be moist, chocolate filled, and have hints of sweet Land O Lakes® Butter. There’s nothing worse than a dry cake, so I love using Land O Lakes® Butter to keep my cakes extra light, moist, and flavorful.

I baked my cake into three (6-inch) layer cakes. If you don’t own a 6-inch cake pan, you can also bake the cake in two (8-inch) cake layers. This works just as well, but you’ll have a shorter and wider cake, versus tall and skinny.

overhead photo of North Pole Cake

For the filling, I debated on whether to simply frost the entire cake with frosting or to add a chocolate filling. Since it’s December, and this is a Christmas cake, I went with the chocolate filling! When in doubt, always add more chocolate…

I made a lusciously smooth chocolate ganache with semi-sweet chocolate and a touch of cream to spread between the cake layers. When you look at the cake, you’d never guess there’s so much chocolate inside, but when you cut the first slice, you’re pleasantly surprised to find multiple layers of chocolate deliciousness. I love this little surprise hidden inside…so fun!

angled North Pole Cake with slice cut

And then there’s the frosting.

Oh, this frosting, it’s become my new go-to. Browned butter, a touch of mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and a splash of vanilla.

Simple ingredients, but put them together and they make something incredibly delicious. This frosting is smooth, creamy, a little nutty from the browned butter, and perfectly sweet. Honestly, it doesn’t get any better.

It’s important for me to make recipes that not only look good, but taste just as delicious, if not better. And trust me, there’s so much to love about this cake. It is a chocolate lover’s dream cake. But it’s also very much a cake for anyone who loves vanilla.

front on photo of North Pole Cake with slice cut

To make the “North Pole” I just used a thick candy cane. I broke the rounded tip off, and then dipped it through a little of the frosting to make the top of the pole. I added some pearl sugar for a snowy effect, and pushed it directly into the top of the cake.

Nothing fancy, but so special and cute.

If you’d like to take the decorations a step further, you can make sugar cookie cut outs. I made reindeer sugar cookies. I sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar, and used a little melted white chocolate for their eyes and tail. It was important to me to keep the scene simple though, so that the cake would be the star.

If you’re looking for a fun Christmassy weekend project, or need a show stopping cake for your next holiday party, this is definitely that cake! I’ll be making it for my family’s Christmas Eve and I’m already so excited.

North Pole Cake slice with fork on cake

North Pole Cake | #chocolatecake #christmas #holiday #dessert

If you make this North Pole Cake please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Watch the How To Video:

North Pole Cake

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories Per Serving: 1918 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.



  • 2 sticks (1 cup) sticks Land O Lakes® Salted Butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces mascarpone or cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • large candy cane and pearl sugar, for decorating


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 3 (6-inch) round cake pans or 2 (8 inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter.
    2. In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand-held mixer) beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the buttermilk, coffee flavored liquor (if using) and vanilla and beat until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low until just combined. Beat in the hot water. 
    4. Pour the batter among the cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes, until the tops are just set, and no longer wiggly in the center. Remove and let cool five minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Cover and let the cakes cool completely before assembling.
    5. To make the ganache. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the heavy cream, butter, and chocolate. Microwave on power lever high for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Let the ganache cool 5-10 minutes.
    6. To make the buttercream. Add 1 stick butter to a skillet set over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown lightly until it smells toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Stir often. Remove from the heat and transfer the butter to the mixing bowl, let cool until it's room temp.
    7. Add the remaining stick of butter, mascarpone, and powdered sugar. Beat the butter and powdered sugar together until the butter is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
    8. To assemble. Place 1st cake layer on a serving plate. Spread 1/2 of the ganache over the cake. Add the 2nd cake layer and spread with the remaining ganache. Add the 3rd layer. Frost the outside of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Chill 30 minutes and then frost the cake generously with the remaining buttercream. 
    7. Break the rounded tip off of the candy cane. Dip 1 end of the candy in buttercream to act as the tip of the "pole". Sprinkle the buttercream with pearl sugar. Insert the candy cane off-center on the top of the cake. Sprinkle with pearl sugar for "snow". Decorate as desired. Serve, or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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front on photo of North Pole Cake

{This post is sponsored by Land O’Lakes. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Half Baked Harvest cooking!}

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this for a Christmas party. It was a big hit! I only had the 8-inch cake pans, but the recipe worked fine for that. I’ll try three layers once I have 6-inch pans. I added grand marnier and orange zest rather than coffee liqueur, to give it an orange-chocolate taste.

  2. Is it possible to make cake layered with ganache ahead of time and freeze? Then thaw and ice with buttercream before serving? Or should you wait to do the ganache?

    1. Hi Colleen,
      Yes, an equal amount of gluten free flour will work well for you! Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xT

  3. 5 stars
    This is my go-to chocolate cake! Everyone always love when I make it.

    It’s even delicious without the ganache layer, I just did buttercream between my layers.

    1. Hey Ashley,
      Happy Holidays!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it turned out well for you!🎁🎅

  4. How early can you make the cake in advance and then assemble later with icing/ganache, or if you make it early, do you also frost it early?

    1. Hey Katie,
      You could make the entire cake a day or two in advance and keep in the fridge. I hope this recipe turns out well for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xT

    1. Hey Vanessa,
      Either will be just fine for this cake! Let me know how it turns out, I hope it’s a hit! Happy Holidays! xx

  5. 5 stars
    I made this for our Christmas dinner dessert. It was delicious – the icing was unbelievably wonderful. Great presentation and everyone enjoyed it.

    Question – how do you store it? I opted for the 6 ” layers and the cake was so tall my husband had to construct a carrier for it. It was more than 10″ high without the North Pole addition.

    1. Hey Wendy,
      Awesome! Thanks a lot for making this recipe. I love to hear that it was enjoyed! I store in an airtight container on the counter. Happy Thursday❄️ xxT

  6. How is this different from your blackout chocolate cake in your cook book!? Wanting to make one and they asked for dark chocolate cake with white frosting. Can’t decide between the two! Could I add white butt r cream to the blackout recipe?! What about the coffee if I don’t have instant?

    1. Hi Brooke,
      The blackout cake is definitely a stronger chocolate flavor, but I love them both. You could certainly do a white buttercream and then just skip the instant coffee. I hope you love the recipe! xTieghan

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      I’ve not tested this, but I would use an equal amount of cake flour. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan