Best-ever birthday cake: Cherry cola chocolate chunk

Layers Bakery says it better than Hallmark

Slice of goodness: Layers Bakery Cafe’s cherry cola chocolate chunk cake.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

This is not your average birthday cake, and this is not your average baker. The cake—a multi-note ride that surprises the palette—comes from Layers Bakery Cafe, which will be providing the sweets at the Weekly’s 13th birthday bash December 22. And the baker? Well, Layers owner Jeanne Forrest knows a thing or two about creating mouth-watering treats with an extra sprinkle of creativity.

Forrest’s love for cooking was born out of necessity. “I’m one of eight kids, and I’m second from the baby,” she says. “I helped my mom in the kitchen a lot because I figured out pretty early it was a way I could be guaranteed to eat.”

Layers owner Jeanne Forrest

And that was that for a while. Forrest was the go-to mom for bake sales and tasty recipes, but her days were spent in telecommunications. Cooking was a passion, a hobby, but nothing more.

Restaurant Guide

Layers Bakery Cafe
665 S. Green Valley Parkway, 221-2253
Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

“When I was a kid I never dreamed of being in telecommunications, and there I was,” she says. “I never pictured myself having this as a career; I never drew the correlation between what I love to do and actually doing it.”

She took the plunge about 16 years ago with a small bakery in the north country of New Hampshire—a high-end spot where everything was made from scratch using organic fruits and vegetables.

In 2003, she set her sights on Las Vegas, opening the first Layers at Sunset and Green Valley in Henderson, before moving to the current location, on Green Valley Parkway at Horizon Ridge, 14 months ago. Today, the menu includes sandwiches like The OMG! (bacon, apple, grilled onions and brie) and cakes like the Good Karma Cake (spice cake spiked with Guinness stout).

“It’s a labor of love,” she says over the phone, her breathing quick from scooping chocolate chip cookie dough as we talk. “I love to cook; I love to eat it; and I love making people feel good when they eat it.”

Cherry Cola Chocolate Chunk Birthday Cake



1 cup Butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cup Sugar

2 tsp. Vanilla

2 1/4 cups Cake flour

1 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. Baking soda

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 Egg

4 Egg yolks

2/3 cup Sour cream

2 tbsp. Milk

1/2 cup Red tart cherries,

coarsely chopped

1/2 cup Chocolate chunks

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch-round cake pans and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl well and add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well between each one.

Scrape the bowl again and add the whole egg. Mix until combined. Add one-third of the sifted dry ingredients, then sour cream, another third of the dry ingredients, then milk and finally, the last third of the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl again and mix for one minute.

Stir in chocolate chunks and cherries by hand. Portion batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 30-32 minutes. Cake tester should be dry and cakes will spring back to the touch when finished. Remove from pans when cool.

Cherry mousse


2 cups Whipping cream

1/2 cup Confectioner’s sugar

2 tbsp. Cherry brandy

1/2 cup Red tart cherries,

coarsely chopped

Method: Combine whipping cream and sugar in bowl of stand mixer and whip until stiff. Fold in brandy and cherries by hand. Refrigerate until you’re ready to fill the cake.

Vanilla cola butter cream


3 Egg yolks

1/2 cup Sugar

2 tbsp. Water

1 tbsp. Vanilla

2 tbsp. Cola syrup (see below)

1 cup Butter, room temperature

Method: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg yolks until thick and light in color. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and water, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cook over high heat to 238 degrees (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Slowly pour sugar and water mixture into the whipped egg yolks until combined. Scrape the bowl well and continue mixing until the outside of the bowl is barely warm to the touch. Stir in the vanilla and cola syrup. With mixer on high, add the butter 2 tbsp. at a time, scraping the bowl often.

Cola syrup


1 bottle Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods All Natural Cola

Method: Pour soda into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Remaining syrup can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.

Assembly: Level the top of the cakes off, and cut each cake in half horizontally, so you have four layers, each about a 1/2 inch thick. Put the bottom layer of cake on a plate and ring the outside edge of with vanilla cola butter cream. Fill the well of the cake with mousse and repeat the process with the subsequent layers.

When the cake is fully assembled, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set the mousse and butter cream. Finish the cake—sides and top—with butter cream, using a pastry knife or pastry bag. Garnish with extra chocolate chunks or any other chocolate items as desired.

Photo of Sarah Feldberg

Sarah Feldberg

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