Desserts

Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake (Italian Christmas Cake)

December 10, 2019

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A beautiful Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake made with Pistachios and White Chocolate. This festive Christmas tree shaped cake is a super fun and impressive Italian dessert yet it won’t take you longer than 15 minutes to make! Spend less time in the kitchen and more time celebrating the festive season!

A pandoro christmas tree cake topped with fairy lights in the background

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Pandoro (golden bread) is a super soft and light, vanilla-scented Italian Christmas cake similar to panettone.

It’s absolutely delicious and the perfect treat for the festive season especially because of its Christmas tree shape. 

You can make it yourself using a pandoro cake tin* but I love to buy them at the supermarket and turn them into a festive show stopper which is so much more fun and really quick.

I mean, how impressive is this cake and it takes no longer than 15 minutes to make!

Ingredients for Making Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake

Other than a pandoro cake you’ll need a few simple and easy ingredients to make this Christmas tree cake;

  • Mascarpone – use full-fat mascarpone.
  • Powdered sugar (icing sugar) – I don’t use much because the pandoro itself is very sweet but you can easily add more or less to your liking.
  • Liqueur – my original recipe used vin santo (a sweet Italian wine) but it can be hard to find out of Italy so you can use marsala or any liqueur of choice.
  • White chocolate – good quality finely chopped (to speed things up you could use white chocolate chips)
  • Pistachios – make sure they’re unsalted
  • Red currants – these are super delicious but if you can’t find them you can use pomegranate instead.

An overhead shot of all the ingredients needed to make a christmas tree cake

How to Make Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake – Step by Step

First, add the mascarpone to a bowl and add the liqueur and powdered sugar (photos 1 & 2).

Beat the mixture with an electric mixer until combined (photos 3 & 4).

Step by step photos for making a pandoro cake filling

Next, add the chopped white chocolate and pistachios and mix together with the mascarpone mixture (photos 5 – 7).

Cut the pandoro cake four times to create five sections (see photos 8 & 9).

Spread each section with the mascarpone mixture and sprinkle with a few red currants. Lay each slice of pandoro back on top of each other as you go so the points don’t match to resemble a Christmas tree (photos 10 -12).

Decorate the rest of the cake with a few more red currants and pistachios and sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve! (photo 13).

Step by step photos for making a pandoro christmas tree cake

Other Liqueurs You Can Use

Since Vin Santo can be hard to find I often use Marsala or another sweet liqueur, here are some of my favourites;

  • Marsala
  • Cointreau
  • Baileys
  • Chocolate liqueur
  • Limoncello
  • Frangelico

Making it in Advance

Because this Christmas tree cake is super quick to make and maybe a bit too big to fit in the fridge I make it the day I’m serving it.

If you want to prep in advance then you can make the mascarpone filling and even cut the cake and wrap it back up until you are ready to serve.

Then all you need to do is fill each layer last minute and make the final touches.

How Long with this Cake Last?

The cake will last around 1 day out of the fridge. 

Leftovers or the whole cake (if there is space) will last up to 3-4 days in the fridge or can be frozen wrapped in plastic wrap (cling film), foil and in suitable containers.

A close up of a pandoro christmas tree cake

Top Tips for Making Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake

  • Use a serrated bread knife to cut the cake into sections
  • Pistachios give a fun festive green colour to the cake but you can swap them for other nuts if you prefer.
  • You can also swap the white chocolate for milk or dark chocolate.
  • If you’re freezing leftover cake then make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and foil.
  • You can follow this recipe with panettone instead (it’ll be delicious) but you won’t get the same Christmas tree effect.
  • Pomegranate can be used instead of red currants.

A close up of a pandoro christmas tree cake with a slice missing

More Italian Desserts You Might Like;

If you try this Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake be sure to let me know how you got on in the comments below. You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

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5 from 7 votes

Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake (Italian Christmas Cake)

A beautiful Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake made with Pistachios and White Chocolate. This festive Christmas tree shaped cake is a super fun and impressive Italian dessert yet it won't take you longer than 15 minutes to make! Spend less time in the kitchen and more time celebrating the festive season!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 people
Calories 464kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 1 large Pandoro cake
  • 2 cups Mascarpone (17.5 oz/500g)
  • 1 fl oz Vin Santo or liqueur of choice (30ml)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar) plus 1 tbsp for dusting (70g)
  • 1/4 cup pistachios plus a few extra to decorate (25g)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate finely chopped (50g)
  • 1/2 cup Red currants or pomegranate plus extra for decoration (3.5 oz/100g)

Instructions

  • Put the mascarpone in a large mixing bowl with the vin santo and powdered sugar and whisk together for 1 minute. Add the chopped white chocolate and pistachios and stir through, set aside.
  • Cut the pandoro in five slices from bottom to top. Spread each layer evenly with the mascarpone mixture making sure to scatter a few red currents on each layer.
  • Lay each slice of pandoro on top of each other so the points don't match to resemble a Christmas tree as you are layering the mascarpone mixture.
  • Top with a dusting of powdered sugar and some more red currents and pistachios.

Notes

  • Use a serrated bread knife to cut the cake into sections
  • Pistachios give a fun festive green colour to the cake but you can swap them for other nuts if you prefer.
  • You can also swap the white chocolate for milk or dark chocolate.
  • If you're freezing leftover cake then make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and foil.
  • You can follow this recipe with panettone instead (it'll be delicious) but you won't get the same Christmas tree effect.
  • Pomegranate can be used instead of red currants.

Nutrition

Calories: 464kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 26mg | Potassium: 54mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 532IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Sophie Goel
    December 11, 2019 at 12:04 am

    Absolutely gorgeous!! I can’t wait introduce a new holiday dessert to my family!5 stars

  • Reply
    Anita
    December 10, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    This is simply the most stunning Christmas cake ever. Perfect as centerpiece. Now I need to buy a Pandoro cake to make this too. 🙂5 stars

  • Reply
    Haley D. Williams
    December 10, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Wow this is spectacular! Definitely a ccenter piece for a holiday party5 stars

  • Reply
    Liz
    December 10, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    This is so cute and festive!! I was looking for a dessert to bring to a chritmas party and this recipe is perfect!5 stars

  • Reply
    Jen
    December 10, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    This is stunning! I know it’ll be a hit at our party this weekend. Thank you!5 stars

  • Reply
    Angela
    September 7, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Wow this looks so delicious! What a delightful addition the the festive table! Hope mine looks as good as yours!5 stars

  • Reply
    Mackenzie @ Food Above Gold
    December 1, 2016 at 1:00 am

    You certainly achieved the WOW factor with this cake. The icing between the layers sounds perfectly light to match the fluffy cake, and the presentation is absolutely gorgeous! Makes me ready for Christmas!

  • Reply
    Stefania
    November 30, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    I tasted it!!! It has been difficult to stop after the first slice… I could have eaten the whole thing… DELICIOUS!!5 stars

  • Reply
    Angela - Patisserie Makes Perfect
    November 30, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    This is fabulous, I’ve had something similar when an Italian friend served us a pandoro like this with ricotta and dark chocolate. This looks so tasty and a great tip about adding the redcurrants at a later date, I wouldn’t have thought of that and the white is striking.

  • Reply
    Veena Azmanov
    November 30, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    That look so pretty and I love how simple it is to make. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Reply
    Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours
    November 30, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Fantastic looking sweet; would impress even the most fussy of our festive visitors. The pistachio’s are a lovely touch.

  • Leave a Reply

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