Last Updated on January 5, 2023
In this packed article, we take a look at some of the best cake flavors and fillings combinations. And, we've included a guide on creating your own!
What Cake Flavors Go Well Together?
Creating new cake flavors and fillings combinations can be a daunting challenge to take on - even for the most expert of bakers. But luckily, some of the most popular cake flavors and fillings are ones that have been around for centuries!
However, today, we will also create a guide that will help you create your own pairings.
1. Think about the occasion
So, to start, decide what the occasion is.
The list of birthday cake flavors and fillings combinations will be different than for a romantic occasion.
If you are making a cake for a birthday party, you will likely stay away from something like a carrot cake. It will be more universal, like chocolate cake, vanilla cake, or a funfetti cake.
And, if you are making a romantic Valentine's Day cake, you will more likely go for chocolate cake.
By choosing the flavor of the cake first, you will be able to more easily decide on a filling or frosting flavor.
2. Choose the cake flavor
Obviously, you need to like to cake flavor. Or at least, the person who the cake is for should like the cake flavor. Many people don't like almond cakes, but others cannot get enough of them!
Another important thing to keep in mind is dietary requirements or restrictions. If you want to make a pecan-nut carrot cake but there is someone with a tree nut allergy, you need to think of an alternative option.
3. Pick well-known complementary flavors
Once you have chosen a cake flavor, it is easy to research some pairings that are already established.
A great example of this is sea salt and caramel. You can make a caramel cake with salted vanilla frosting.
Another example is chili and chocolate. You can make a decadent dark chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate chili frosting.
4. Balance the flavors
Now, the most important part of creating flavor combinations is to ensure they are balanced. For example, you don't want to spend a ton of time creating a lush caramel cake and have it overwhelmed with a salty frosting.
You need to experiment a bit with the flavors before setting them in stone.
This is also why choosing and making the cake layers first is best. You can more easily adjust the flavor of the filling and frosting than the cake crumb.
Creating new cake flavors and fillings combinations
If you want to push the envelope a little, the best way to create new flavor combinations is by seeing what pairs with the common pairings.
For example, let's say you are making a dark chocolate cake. As you may know, oranges pair very well with dark chocolate. So, you can then take a look at what pairs well with oranges.
This can be something like pistachios, hazelnuts, cardamom, rum, ricotta, pecans, and dates. Now, you can create a nutty dark chocolate cake with cardamom buttercream frosting.
Keep in mind, creating new pairings requires a lot of experimentation. This technique doesn't always work. But, it's an easy starting point.
Cake Flavors And Fillings Combinations
Now that you have a rough idea of how to create the best cake-filling flavors, let's take a look at some great combinations that you can try with some of the most popular types of cakes.
These pairings can work both ways. For example, you can create a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Or you can create a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting.
You can also blend together the flavors. You can make a vanilla and chocolate cake (or marble cake) with a vanilla and chocolate chip frosting.
1. Chocolate cake
Chocolate has hundreds (if not thousands) of pairs that work well. It is a cake that has been around for centuries. So, it's likely that everything that works has already been tried.
Some easy options include coffee, vanilla, autumn spices (like cinnamon), caramel, and coconut.
Nuts chocolate pair best with hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios. And chocolate also pairs well with berries, mint, pears, oranges, bourbon, brandy, rum, and mascarpone.
Some strange but very delicious pairings you can try include chocolate with basil or rosemary, as well as chocolate paired with bacon. Chocolate and ginger is also a strange, yet delicious pairing to experiment with.
2. Vanilla cake
This may be an exaggeration, but it doesn't feel like it when you explore flavor pairings with vanilla, but it goes with everything! Vanilla is probably the easiest flavor to pair.
Instead of discussing the very obvious pairings (like chocolate, coffee, berries, etc.) we will take a look at some stranger, but equally good, pairings with vanilla beans and extract.
Apricots, plums, pumpkins, and rhubarb are great fruit and vegetable-based pairings to try. You can also incorporate creme fraiche, coconut, mascarpone, and cream cheese with the frostings.
3. Caramel cake
Caramel will go great with red apples, bananas, and chocolate (these are your best pairings). You can also pair caramel with pecans, cinnamon, pears, coffee, and marshmallows.
Some fun pairings to try include popcorn, pineapples, pumpkin puree, and pretzels.
4. Pumpkin spice cake
Pumpkin pie spice cakes (or frostings) work well with autumn flavors. They include marshmallows, red apples, sweet potatoes, oats, chia, coconut, almonds, dates, and raisins.
Your best pairings will be with pumpkin, maple syrup, pecans, cream cheese, and walnuts. Even bananas work well when used correctly.
5. Berry cakes
These pairings go well with most berries or a combination of them.
Berries go best with berries. So, if you have a strawberry cake, you can use a blackberry filling.
Then, creamy ingredients also work well (they can be sweet or tart). You can use yogurt, heavy cream, creme fraiche, or mascarpone.
Berries also go well with bananas, oranges, honey, mint, and almonds.
6. Carrot cake
Carrot cake goes well with creamy ingredients that have a slight tanginess to them. That's why cream cheese is a fantastic pairing. You can also use yogurt or creme fraiche.
This cake also goes well with autumn spices and most nuts.
Final Thoughts On The Best Cake Flavors And Fillings Combinations
As you can see, there is no shortage of combinations you can try. This list of cake flavors and fillings combinations proves it!
If you create a unique combination of your own, share it with us! And, if you are looking for more ideas, let us know in the comments below!
Lindy Van Schalkwyk is a culinary specialist with a background in Advanced Cooking, Advanced Pâtisserie, Media Communications and Nutrition. She has gained invaluable experience in the culinary industry having worked in some of the top restaurants in Africa in 2016 and 2017. Her expertise in nutrition has enabled her to develop recipes for special dietary needs. In 2018, Lindy began working in the Food Media industry, focusing on recipe development, recipe writing, food writing and food styling.