A layered eggnog cake with brown butter frosting is a Christmas showstopper. Nutmeg and cinnamon rich layers of cake pair perfectly with a decadent, slightly nutty, easy buttercream frosting.
It’s funny to me how some traditions happen accidentally. This eggnog cake with brown butter frosting is actually one of them. How many times do you find yourself with a nearly full carton of eggnog after purchasing? A little goes such a long way, and unless you’re in a large enough family of eggnog drinkers, there’s always extra.
Do you drink eggnog around Christmas? Yes? No? Depends?
I do drink eggnog, but not a lot because it’s so rich. The Godfather may take a sip – he’ll drink it in latte form (rum optional) – but his total consumption per holiday season is under a cup, I’m sure. But the containers of eggnog are SO big! I always find myself looking for ways to use up the last half in the bottle.
What can I make with leftover eggnog?
Glad you asked! 😉 You could always use some in my other eggnog recipes:
…but each recipe only uses a few tablespoons. How do you use up a lot of leftover eggnog? You bake an eggnog layer cake, naturally! At least, that’s what my social media has reminded me I’ve done the past 2 years running. So this year it finally makes the blog!
Let’s talk about this eggnog cake recipe…
What I really love about this eggnog layer cake, is that even people who aren’t eggnog lovers like it! The prominent flavors are a little nutmeg and cinnamon, so it’s very winter appropriate as far as layer cake flavors go. And because of all the other ingredients, the “eggy” flavor is not as strong, so the spices really shine.
In fact, this would make a lovely Christmas Eve dessert or Christmas Day dessert. It’s just a nice way to close out the holiday meal and add something beautiful to the dessert table. And if you have leftover eggnog after Christmas, serve this cake for the New Year… it’s the holiday “season”, right? Flavors shouldn’t be defined by dates if you have the food in your fridge.
What about the brown butter frosting?
The brown (browned?) butter buttercream is an absolute must! Expect to see this recipe again. Because brown butter frosting is a game changer! First of all, browned butter takes less time to soften, so it’s ready to go in almost no time. Second, it adds the most incredible depth of flavor to the buttercream. I challenge you not to eat it by the spoonful. And paired with the eggnog cake, this is magic.
How do you brown butter? Put your desired quantity of butter in a light colored or stainless steel skillet. Place that over a medium heat. Wait until it melts, swirl the pan occasionally or stir. Watch for little brown flecks to appear and the butter to smell glorious!
Once you see the brown flecks, transfer the butter IMMEDIATELY to a heat proof container. Seriously, it goes from brown to burnt in no time, so don’t walk away! Let the butter cool and then cover and refrigerate until you need it. Make extra, it’s amazing for vegetable dishes like green beans.
If you don’t feel like browning butter, you may skip it. Just use the butter as is. I’d recommend adding a little vanilla or a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to compliment the cake, but that’s optional.
How do I create the trees on this eggnog cake?
If you’d like to replicate the trees on the cake, grab a little fresh rosemary, turn the sprigs upside down and trim a few of the top leaves. Simple, beautiful, the perfect natural cake topper for a winter cake.
Since it’s the holiday season and I wanted to add a festive touch to my little rosemary trees, I made some sugared cranberries! I followed this recipe from Traci at Vanilla and Bean. It was easy to follow and you can see how beautiful the cranberries look!
I hope you love this eggnog cake recipe as much as we enjoy it. Happy baking, darlings!
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 sticks (16 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups eggnog
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
Brown Butter Frosting
- 1 pound unsalted butter, browned
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch salt
Bake the Cake:
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter and flour 2 8" cake pans. Set aside.
- Cream the sugar and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition, then stir in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add about 1/2 cup of the eggnog to the egg mixture, then stir in half the flour mixture, add another 1/2 cup eggnog, add the rest of the flour, then finish with the remaining buttermilk. The batter should be smooth.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the pans. Bake 40-45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to set for 10 minutes before turning cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely. See notes for alternatives.
Make the Brown Butter Frosting:
- Place the butter in a light colored skillet or pot. Set the pot on a burner over medium heat.
- Watch the butter as it melts, stirring occasionally or swirling the pan. When you see brown flecks in the butter and the butter is very fragrant, remove from the heat. Transfer immediately to a heatproof container.
- Allow to cool and firm up to a softened butter consistency before using. You may make the browned butter up to a week in advance.
- To mix the frosting, place the softened browned butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Stir in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Stir in the salt and vanilla.
- Start at low speed, then work your way up to a medium speed.
- Beat the frosting for 4-5 minutes on medium until light and fluffy. Use to frost and fill the cooled eggnog cake.
- Instead of letting the cakes cool on a cooling rack, I often turn the cake out onto plastic wrap. I wrap the layer, and then refrigerate for a few hours until the cake is very cold. Cold cakes are easier to decorate. Also, if you'd like to bake the cake in advance and freeze for later, you can take the chilled cake layer, add another layer or two of plastic wrap and freeze up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
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