Is This the Best Grocery-Store Cake You Can Buy? TikTok Seems to Think So.

published Apr 4, 2023
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Whole Foods Chantilly Cake with strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries on top
Credit: Justine Lee

For the best layer cake, head to Whole Foods. At least, that’s what many people are saying on TikTok. If you know the vibe, it seems, you really know the vibe.

“I went to culinary school and let me tell you, a grocery store cake has no business hitting this hard,” says New York City-based food stylist @acrosskrissytable in her TikTok video, which has garnered over 23,000 likes and many comments in agreement. “It’s like tres leches vibes with fruit,” writes @snackqween Jen Curley alongside her review. I can’t count the amount of videos where people go to pick up the cake simply as a cure to a bad day or as an interlude before their long to-do lists proceed to chew away at them. 

This little luxury clearly needs no special occasion to be enjoyed, as Whole Foods itself confirmed on the app. So as a very serious investigative reporter in food media, I ran over to Whole Foods to get my hands on this cake to see what the hype was all about. 

Credit: Justine Lee

What Should You Know About Whole Foods Berry Chantilly Cake?

Turns out that this cake has a rich, significant history that even the most avid Whole Foods shoppers are unaware of. It all started at the Arabella Station location in New Orleans, where the cake made its debut. “One of our talented Bakery team members formulated the recipe based on her grandmother’s original creation and it became an instant hit,” explains Natalie Dunham, a member of the Whole Foods Bakery Category Team, over email. 

“After Hurricane Katrina, many of our team members relocated to Houston, bringing the recipe with them, and the cake started to gain its cult following outside of Louisiana.” Soon enough, the cake became what it is now: a staple in the glowy glass cases of the Whole Foods bakery section. According to Natalie, it’s rather typical for stores nationwide to get hundreds of orders for the berry Chantilly cake during various holiday weeks throughout the year. 

When I got to Whole Foods, what I came across were two iterations of the cake: a whole six-inch layer cake and small plastic containers of individual double-decker slices. (You can also order the cake online in various sizes, like this quarter sheet cake, for delivery or pickup.)

The gears in my brain were churning at rapid speed. Which one do I get? For science, obviously, I picked up one whole cake and many slices. “I’m throwing a birthday party,” I told my cashier who analyzed my haul full of cake and nothing else. (My birthday isn’t until late summer.)

Credit: Justine Lee

My Honest Review of the Whole Foods Berry Chantilly Cake 

Let’s begin with the layer cake. Right off the bat, the Chantilly cream frosting was incredible! It was somehow light without feeling like whipped oil, and well-bodied and velvety without being overtly thick. The vanilla flavoring the cream is gently milky and sweet, with a touch of tang from the mascarpone cheese. Honestly if Whole Foods sold this cream by the tub, I would always buy it and put it on French toast or hot chocolate

The texture of the cake was tight-crumbed while not at all dense, but super moist and feather light. Many people online wax poetic about how almond-forward it was, but I thought it was an aftertaste at best. That said, the light flavor had some toasty notes reminiscent of malted milk powder that worked great stacked with the Chantilly cream. 

If any part of the cake was underwhelming, it ought to be the number (or lack thereof) of berries. On the outside I counted eleven blueberries, three blackberries, two strawberries, and a single raspberry. Each berry sent one representative to the situation room — I swear there were four berries studded inside of that tall cake. I would have preferred a higher berry-per-bite ratio; but when those small fruity bursts came, I really savored them. Take the glass-half-full approach, people. 

The Whole Foods berry Chantilly cake reminded me of the fresh cream cakes I’ve had at Korean bakeries. In other words, it’s not too sweet. That’s the highest form of praise from someone Asian about a dessert. If you’re looking for a pretty inexpensive celebration cake to pick up at a moment’s notice, then the berry Chantilly layer cake is it. 

Buy: Whole Foods Berry Chantilly Cake, $30 for 1 (6-inch) cake

Credit: Justine Lee

A Side-by-Side Comparison Between the Whole Foods Berry Chantilly Layer Cake and Slice

People on TikTok or anywhere online won’t tell you this, but in my opinion one thing is very, very clear: The slice is not the same as the whole cake. Delicate, polished, and elegant are words that come to mind when I tried the triple-layer cake. The slice, on the other hand, with two layers of cake, looks and eats like a rustic country cake and, all around, it feels more chill.

I noticed more of a looser whipped Chantilly frosting, and the cake had the consistency of an angel food cake if it contained almond extract then went for an apricot-y, marzipan-esque soak. The almond flavoring in the cake slice stands out more than the vanilla-kissed Chantilly cream itself. It’s interesting how the layer cake skimped on berries, but the berries in the slice made sure to do their part as the cake’s leading ingredient. I got a burst of raspberry, blueberry, or blackberry in every bite, which lent a jammy sensation sandwiched between the Chantilly frosting. 

So what took the cake — the whole or the slice? That’s an unfair question! My main takeaway is that the layer cake and cake slice were different, surprisingly pleasant berry Chantilly cake experiences. The decision could seem hard, but just remember it doesn’t require the technical prowess of butter boards, the cost of caviar, or the risk of possibly wasting time or resources that comes with other viral food trends. If you really can’t choose, why not just get both?

Find it in stores: Whole Foods Berry Chantilly Cake Slice, $4.50 for 1 slice

Do you have a favorite grocery store cake? Tell us about it in the comments below.