Hawaiian Vs American Chantilly Cake: What's The Difference?

chantilly cakes compared
chantilly cakes compared - Static Media / Shutterstock

When it's time for cake, there's a diverse array of options for the fluffy baked good. From a classic white cake recipe to a beloved red velvet, there are dozens of types of cake ready to assemble and enjoy. With so many options, it can be easy for some varieties, as well as nomenclature nuances, to fly under the radar. Recently, the Chantilly cake has gained popularity on social media.

Visually, this creation is a showstopper, with several layers covered in a white frosting and a colorful garnish atop. A version of the Chantilly cake featuring berries is the most well-known, but there's also a standalone version affiliated with Hawaii.

On the islands, the baked good is made with chocolate, and features a quintessential frosting made from butter and evaporated milk. This version is intertwined with notable bakeries on the archipelago but doesn't have much recognition outside the state. So, sample this well-kept secret and compare it to its trendy berry counterpart. With their complementary vanilla and chocolate palates, you might just start crafting both.

Read more: 30 Types Of Cake, Explained

What Is Hawaiian Chantilly Cake?

 Hawaiian chantilly cake
Hawaiian chantilly cake - lilihabakery /Instagram

Despite its shared name, Hawaiian Chantilly cake is a different creation, easily distinguished by flavor and appearance. It bears more resemblance to a German chocolate cake, which despite its name, is an American creation. This version is unique to Hawaii, and there is no obvious connection to other Chantilly cakes, so it's unknown how it received its moniker. There are several noted bakeries which serve renditions of it, with Hawaiians often purchasing it for special occasions.

Some home bakers choose to craft the dessert from a chocolate box mix, showcasing its Hawaiian flair through the frosting alone. Others have their own batter recipe, with a composition that mirrors a chiffon cake versus a sponge. Regardless of the rendition, there's some cocoa powder in the mix, along with vanilla and a tad of salt to create the central flavors of the cake.

The frosting is also iconic to the dessert, involving evaporated milk, butter, eggs, and sugar. It's cooled and then applied atop the cake, crafting a rich and sweet flavor with a yellow hue. Unlike German cake, it doesn't involve any coconut -- perhaps a surprising twist, given that this version comes from a tropical island.

What Is American Chantilly Cake?

American chantilly cake
American chantilly cake - Rob D Creations/Shutterstock

Light and airy American Chantilly cake is all about packing the notes of vanilla, berries, and frosting into a fluffy creation. Visually, this cake looks tall and spectacular, with a coverage of white frosting, and a bright dash of berry-tinged color. Yet, it's deceptively easy to make, using a cream, flour, and butter base, all leavened with baking powder. Some make it a tinge denser, adding some oil into the mix, too.

But what's dependable is a focus on the frosting: Crafted on a foundational base of heavy cream, cream cheese, and mascarpone, it's a hefty, sticky sweet creation that covers the entire fluffy dough, and perfectly juxtaposes every bite. The frosting is the element that lends the cake its name. The sweetened whipped cream component is called Chantilly cream in France, with the cream cheese added to adhere to the baked good.

The cake -- especially in its stunning berry-topped form -- has been recently popularized by New Orleans-based baker Chaya Conrad. At the time, she was employed at Whole Foods, and the creation became a hit, so the brand started selling the version across their stores. It then achieved further success on social media, and Conrad opened her own enterprise called Bywater Bakery. If you want to sample the dish in its best form, swing by her establishment, or head to the nearest location of Whole Foods for a unique Chantilly cake slice.

Hawaiian Chantilly Cake Is Known For Its Unique Frosting

preparing frosting for cake
preparing frosting for cake - GreenCam1/Shutterstock

The most quintessential element in these cakes is the frosting, especially for the Hawaiian version. It's a signature addition that you'll find lathered atop the chocolate sponge, differentiating this Chantilly version from a German chocolate cake. It's dependably thick, smooth, and rich, crafted with fresh butter, evaporated milk, sugar, and several egg yolks.

Most versions remain true to this formula, leaving out any further flavors. Some may add crushed macadamias, which go well with the rich cream. Every so often some crushed coconut may go into the mix, although it's not regarded as a traditional move.

When it comes to the American version, the use of a Chantilly cream-based frosting is also a definitive aspect of the dish. Its composition isn't as rigid as with the Hawaiian version, with some using yogurt and whipped cream, while others use a cream cheese frosting base. Regardless, either version doesn't cut corners when crafting this external layer. It's more than just a finishing coating, but a defining characteristic of the dish.

The American Chantilly Cake Comes In A Stacked Form

Chantilly cake and slices
Chantilly cake and slices - Julie Kinnaird/Tasting Table

Both cakes are light, fluffy sponges, with a delightful internal airiness. Other than the addition of cocoa powder, the Hawaiian cake's composition is similar to that of the American cake, but bakers often imbue their own spin. As it goes in baking, there are slight shifts in the batter. American Chantilly cake typically relies on a combination of cake flour, baking powder, and eggs to build the foundation. Alternatively, Hawaiian might reach for some baking soda and cream of tartar in addition to other leavening ingredients. Additionally, Hawaiian Chantilly often uses separated eggs.

In part, such compositions are due to how the cakes are assembled. The Hawaiian version is typically only two layers, with just a bit more rise. These cakes are less wide and have a layer of frosting in between. Alternatively, American Chantilly cake is all about stacking high. Cake segments are much wider to provide a better structural foundation. There are at least four layers, all covered with frosting, interspersed with berries, sometimes jam, and creative combinations like blueberry and almonds. Its grander presentation is certainly eye-catching, but both versions are delicious creations worthy of a bake.

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