There’s something almost spiritual for me about this white chocolate whisper cake, which seems fitting as it comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. It was 1997, and I was working in advertising as a copywriter and suffering the horror of anxiety-riddled depression of then-undiagnosed bipolar disorder. (I promise I’m not going to harsh your mood while you’re browsing for dessert.)

Every day I practically fled the office at lunchtime and spent the hour in the baking section of Barnes & Noble. The Cake Bible was my sustenance. I wasn’t up for baking at the time; depression had a way of making my hands and arms so heavy they felt nailed to the counter.

But reading Rose’s book always lifted my spirits, at least for the time I was leaning against a bookcase with the book on my knees. It’s as if the recipes were Morse code, a secret message that whispered, “You’ll be ok, David. You’ll be fine.” Yet I doubted I’d ever be whole again, ever be unbroken. But if I ever were better, I promised myself one of the first desserts I’d make would be this white chocolate whisper cake.

In time, as the medications started to finally do their job of stroking my exhausted nerves, I felt incrementally better. And I reached for my personal bible and my favorite chapter and verse: White Chocolate Whisper Cake.

Frankly, it didn’t matter if the cake was even any good. What mattered was I was on my feet facing the stove, keeping my promise. The fact that the cake was nothing less than exquisite–finely crumbed, delicately flavored with white chocolate–didn’t hurt. I paired it with all kinds of frostings back then, but I discovered the flavor that spoke to my mending soul was my pistachio buttercream. Since then, the cake has never been crowned with anything else.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

The testers fell head over heels for this recipe for white chocolate cake because of its “soft mouthfeel with a fine crumb texture and a hint of white chocolate flavor.” Tester Amy Kaufman describes it as “a beauty–elegant and perfect for any occasion.”

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • White chocolate–For best results, use the highest-quality white chocolate bar or chunks that you can get. Avoid white chocolate chips, as they don’t melt uniformly.
  • Egg whites–For best results, weigh your egg whites. You may be able to get the necessary amount from only 4 eggs. Don’t toss your yolks, as you’ll need them for the buttercream frosting.
  • Vanilla extract–Only the real stuff will do!
  • Cake flour–This gives the cake its light and delicate texture. Don’t substitute all-purpose flour-it simply won’t give you the same result.
  • Neutral oil–You can use any type of neutral oil, such as vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil. Avoid strongly flavored oils, such as olive oil as it will muddle the flavor of the cake.
  • Unsalted butter–The butter needs to be softened to beat into the batter uniformly. To check if your butter is softened to room temperature, give it a gentle poke with your finger. It should feel slightly cool and your finger should leave a small indentation.

How to Make White Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch pans with baking spray, line them with parchment, spray them again, and lightly coat them with flour.
  2. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler over hot water, stirring frequently.
  3. Whisk the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla together in a bowl.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in a stand mixer on low speed until combined.
  5. Add the butter, oil, and remaining milk. Mix on low speed until no dry patches remain.
  6. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating between each batch.
  8. Beat in the melted chocolate.
  9. Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out with some crumbs clinging to it. Cool the pans in wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans.
  10. Place the first cake layer on a platter and frost. Top with the second layer and generously frost the top and sides of the cake.

Common Questions

Can I freeze this cake?

You can freeze the unfrosted cake layers for up to 2 months. Simply wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then, for extra safety, in aluminum foil or in airtight freezer bags.

When you’re ready to use them, unwrap them and let them thaw completely at room temperature before frosting.

What is White Chocolate?

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. It doesn’t contain any cocoa solids, which are present in conventional chocolate. It also contains more milk solids than any other type of chocolate.

Helpful Tips

  • Be cautious when melting the white chocolate, and don’t try to rush the process, as it can seize quickly.
  • You can make the cake layers up to 5 days ahead of time and then frost them the day you serve. Store the cake layers, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Whenever I bake cakes, I use cake strips. You wet them and wrap them around the outside of the cake pan. It prevents the cake from doming.

Storage Instructions

Store the cake under a cake dome at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

A slice of 2 layer white chocolate whisper cake with pistachio frosting and filling, on a white plate beside a cake stand containing the rest of the cake.

More Outstanding White Cake Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

This is now my favorite white chocolate cake recipe. It’s absolutely divine! The texture is perfect!

Dona k.
A slice of 2 layer white chocolate whisper cake with pistachio frosting and filling, on a white plate beside a cake stand containing the rest of the cake.

White Chocolate Whisper Cake

4.75 / 4 votes
White chocolate offers the double advantage of velvety, melt-in-the-mouth texture and, because of white cake's gentle flavor, a definite whisper of cocoa butter. This special flavor blends well with a lemon buttercream or, of course, David's pistachio buttercream.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings12 servings
Calories479 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time55 minutes

Ingredients 

  • Nonstick baking spray
  • All-purpose flour, for the pans
  • 6 ounces white chocolate
  • 4 1/2 large (4.75 oz) egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (10.5 oz) sifted cake flour
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (8.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons (4.5 oz) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil
  • David's Pistachio Buttercream Frosting
  • Chopped pistachios, for decorating (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Coat two (9-inch | 23-cm) cake pans with baking spray, line with parchment, spray again with cooking spray, then lightly flour.
  • In a double boiler over hot (not simmering) water, melt the chocolate, stirring frequently. Remove from the water.
  • In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup (61 g) of the milk, and the vanilla.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter, oil, and the remaining 3/4 cup (181 g) milk.
  • Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
  • Add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate.
  • Divvy the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: Use a scale to divide the batter exactly between the two cake pans. It's about 600 grams per pan.

  • Bake until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center, about 25 minutes. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: If the cakes are becoming too dark during baking, cover with foil for the final few minutes of baking.

  • Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Spray the cooling racks with baking spray. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto the greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely.
  • If serving immediately, frost with David's pistachio buttercream frosting.
  • If serving later, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Frost with pistachio buttercream before serving.
  • To frost the cakes, place one cake on a serving platter. Use an offset spatula to spread the pistachio buttercream frosting in an even layer over the top. Top with the second cake. Spread frosting generously over the top and sides. Top with fresh berries or pistachios, if using.
The Cake Bible

Adapted From

The Cake Bible

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portion, cake onlyCalories: 479 kcalCarbohydrates: 69 gProtein: 9 gFat: 19 gSaturated Fat: 12 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 29 mgSodium: 171 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 26 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 1988 Rose Levy Beranbaum. Photos © 2021 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

While I liked the tender crumb of the white chocolate cake and the rich and slightly nutty buttercream, I found myself wanting some fruit in between the layers. A low-sugar raspberry or blackberry jam would go really great with the richness of this buttercream.

I ended up decorating the top of my cake with fresh raspberries and shaved white chocolate. The fresh berries were really lovely with the silky buttercream. You could also use chopped pistachio nuts, but, again, I like the berries with this cake.

I gave my cake a crumb coat and then finished it with decorative horizontal ridges on the side of the cake using a warm metal spatula and light pressure.

This cake would be great for any season. I see it with dark coffee in the cooler months and a cold glass of Prosecco in the spring and summer. It would be a wonderful Mother’s Day cake as well!

This delicate white chocolate whisper cake is a beauty–elegant and perfect for Easter or any occasion. While it looks sophisticated and has an intriguing name, this isn’t a complicated recipe. This is a cake to wow friends and family.

I found the directions spot on and easy to follow. I baked the two cakes for a few minutes too long, and still, the crumb was moist, and the white chocolate flavor came through.

White chocolate whisper cake is aptly named. It has a soft mouthfeel with a fine crumb texture and a hint of white chocolate flavor. It’s worth searching out the unsalted pistachio butter and making this version of French buttercream–if you only make it once–because the pistachio and white chocolate flavor combination is divine, and the frosting is easier to make than you think it might be. This is the perfect special occasion cake–or any day in my house.

The cake mixed up easily. Four of my egg whites equaled the 1/2 cup volume, so measure out your four egg whites before deciding how many eggs you need. I liked that the buttercream used my egg yolks, so I didn’t have to discard them.

I melted the chocolate in a small glass mixing bowl over simmering hot water. As the chocolate started to melt, I stirred it around to help smooth it out so it was pourable. Be sure to use good-quality white chocolate made with cocoa butter.

To bring the pistachio flavor into the cake, I stirred about 1/2 cup unsalted, coarsely chopped pistachios into the batter. The cake was perfectly baked in 25 minutes. The pan preparation instructions made it ridiculously easy to remove the cooled layers from the baking pans. The top of the cake was flat–not crowned–ideally suited to frosting and decorating without leveling.

I decorated my two-layer cake with 1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios. An old-fashioned hand-turned nut grater is an excellent tool for chopping pistachios without shattering them. I sifted out the fine from the larger pieces with a mesh strainer, spread the larger chopped pieces in a 5-inch circle centered on the frosted top, and surrounded that with a sprinkle of the pistachio dust.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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4 Comments

    1. Suzi, we haven’t tried making this cake gluten-free. I think it will be difficult to replicate the light texture of the cake with a gluten-free flour, but you could try replacing the cake flour with a gluten free all purpose or cake flour blend.

  1. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday. Lacking pistachios, I glazed it with apricot syrup and then topped it with strawberries and sweetened whipped cream. Instead of layers, I poured it into my jelly roll pan. Cut into approximately 3 inch squares after baking. Since it’s just the two of us, 1/2 went into the freezer, and half we’ve been enjoying while fresh. It won’t last long. I woke up at 5:30 am and had cake and strawberries with my coffee. Dang… great way to start the day! This is now my favorite white cake. It’s absolutely divine! The texture is perfect!