This decadent Neapolitan Cake features layers of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate cake layered with bananas and frosting. Topped with chocolate ganache, sprinkles, and cherries, it looks and tastes a lot like a banana split sundae!
Easy & Decadent Neapolitan Cake
Warning: You’re about to fall in love with this multi-flavor, multi-layered Neapolitan Cake. It’s rich, decadent, and ridiculously easy to make. (Spoiler alert – it starts with box cake mix!) Just like my Neapolitan cupcakes, this cake is a great option when you want to have a little something for everyone.
I originally called this a banana split cake, as it was created to look just like a banana split sundae made with Neapolitan ice cream. It may be missing the ice cream but it looks just like a fancy sundae, from the chocolate ganache dripping down the side to the sprinkles and maraschino cherry!
If you love the flavors of banana split, try our No-Bake Banana Split Cake. It’s not as decadent as this cake but it’s filled with fresh fruit, pineapple, and everything you could want from a banana split dessert!
Why You’ll Love This Layer Cake
This Neapolitan layer cake is hard to resist! Here are a few reasons why we love it so.
- Easy to prepare. This layer cake recipe begins with box cake mix, which means it’s as no-fuss as any layer cake can be!
- Wonderful combination of flavors. Between the rich chocolate, fruity strawberry, and classic vanilla there’s a little something for everyone in this cake.
- It’s beautiful (but easy to decorate). This cake looks super fancy, with the sprinkles around the bottom, chocolate ganache drizzle, dollops of frosting, and maraschino cherries. But it won’t take you hours to decorate – promise!
What Is A Neapolitan Cake?
This Neapolitan cake features layers of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla cake layered with vanilla frosting. It’s inspired by Neapolitan ice cream, which is the same three flavors in the same carton. It’s perfect for those who can’t decide on their favorite flavor!
Ingredients You Will Need:
Besides the cake mixes, you’ll need just a handful of pantry staples for this recipe. See the recipe card below for details.
- Cake mix – One reason this layer cake recipe is so easy is that it starts with boxed cake mix. You’ll need one box each of your favorite chocolate, strawberry, and French vanilla cake mixes. I used triple chocolate for extra rich, decadent flavor.
- Eggs, oil, and water – Use the amounts called for on your cake mix boxes.
- Bananas – This dessert gets a banana split cake twist by adding sliced bananas.
- Butter – Unsalted butter is the base of our vanilla frosting.
- Powdered sugar – Sweetens out buttercream.
- Pure vanilla extract – Adds the vanilla flavor to the frosting.
- Heavy whipping cream – Heavy whipping cream helps to stabilize the vanilla frosting and is also used in the chocolate ganache.
- Semi sweet chocolate chips – The chocolate for our chocolate ganache! Be sure to use a quality brand for the best flavor.
- Maraschino cherries – Optional but I like to add them for decorative purposes.
How To Make A Neapolitan Cake
Since we’re staying with box cake mix, this Neapolitan layer cake is surprisingly easy to make! The key is just to allow plenty of time for the cake layers to cool before assembling.
- Bake the cakes. Prepare the cake batter according to the cake box. Fill one round, greased cake pan 3/4 full with each flavor. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on the counter.
- Make the vanilla frosting. Beat all of the frosting ingredients together until combined and smooth with stiff peaks. Scoop 1 1/2 cups into a piping bag and set aside.
- Layer the cakes. Use a cake level to remove the dome tops from the cakes, if necessary. Place the strawberry layer on the cake board then top with a layer of sliced bananas and 1 1/2 cups of frosting. Spread the frosting evenly. Repeat with the chocolate cake layer and more bananas. Top with the vanilla cake layer.
- Frost the outside of the cake. Use the remaining frosting to frost the entire cake.
- Add sprinkles. Cover the bottom of the cake with sprinkles.
- Make the chocolate ganache. Heat up the heavy whipping cream until steaming, then pour over the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Allow to sit for a minute then whisk until smooth. Transfer to a squeeze bottle.
- Add the ganache to the cake. Pipe drips of the ganache around the edge of the cake and fill in the top middle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the ganache to harden.
- Decorate the cake. Pipe dollops of frosting onto the top of the cake, then sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Top each dollop with cherries.
Important Tip: Do Not Walk Away From The Whipped Cream!
For this recipe, you’ll want to heat up the whipping cream until it’s steaming. I can’t stress enough not to turn the heat on low and walk away, thinking you’ll multi-task. Trust me when I tell you that you’re likely to wind up with a mess that’s so burnt onto your pan, you’ll want to throw the entire pan away.
And the smell. Oh gosh, you guys. If you’ve ever let a dairy product like milk or cream burn, you know it has a smell that is so unpleasant it could scare away burglars if you could bottle the scent.
It’s called scorching and it’s the worst.
Go slow, use the heck out of a wooden spoon, and don’t walk away to check on the laundry. In other words, don’t be like me.
How to Know If The Cake Really Done
The toothpick test is what most people do, right? I do it sometimes, but there are other ways that I think are as good as, or even better than the toothpick method of doneness. Since we’re baking three different cakes for this banana split layer cake, I thought I’d share my other tricks with you.
- Gentle touch in the center of the cake. When you press (lightly) in the center of a cake, it should feel firm and a little springy. If it sticks to your finger, or it doesn’t have any “give” to it, it’s not quite done.
- The sides of the cake pull away from the pan. You want to catch it when the cake is only beginning to pull away from the sides. Don’t let it stay in the over beyond that or you might wind up with crunchy cake edges.
- Take the cake’s temp. Yep. Put a baking thermometer in the cake to see if it’s reached 210F. I’ve never gone this far, but I can see doing it this way if you have a thick cake that you’re really not sure about.
Can I Bake The Cake Layers in Advance?
Yup! In fact, I recommend it. I’ll often bake the layers for my layer cake a day in advance or at least bake them in the morning to assemble in the evening.
Once the layers have cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. They’ll be fine on the counter for a day.
Neapolitan Layer Cake Variations
Here are some fun ways to customize this cake and make it your own.
- Do I have to add bananas? Nope – you can easily skip them. I was originally inspired to make this a banana split layer cake, so I added bananas for a fun twist. But if you’d prefer the dessert without them, you can absolutely skip them.
- Try it with different frostings. Instead of just vanilla frosting, you can use frosting that corresponds with each cake layer – chocolate frosting, strawberry frosting, etc.
- Switch up the decorations. Neapolitan ice cream often comes in a banana split, so I added my toppings to be the same as a banana split sundae. But you can easily switch it up and add sprinkles, crushed candy, etc. Or skip all the fancy toppings and just stick with frosting!
- Fridge. Once assembled, this cake is best stored in the fridge in a cake container or covered with plastic. It will last for about 3 days, though keep in mind the bananas will begin to brown.
- Freezer. I do not recommend freezing the fully assembled cake, due to the bananas. However, cake layers cake be wrapped in plastic and then in foil and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight and assemble as desired.
Other Layer Cake Recipes:
- 1 Box Triple chocolate cake mix
- 1 Box Strawberry cake mix
- 1 Box French Vanilla cake mix
- eggs (use according to box directions)
- oil (use according to box directions)
- water (use according to box directions)
- 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the cake pans with pam baking spray.
- Following the directions on the back of the cake boxes, make your cake batters.
- Fill 1 cake pan 3/4 way full with one flavor batter for each pan.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on the counter completely.
- Using a standing mixer, beat all frosting ingredients together until combined and smooth and stiff peaks.
- Scoop 1 1/2 cups frosting into the piping bag and set aside.
- Remove cakes from the pans and use the cake leveler to remove the dome tops.
- Place the strawberry layer onto the cake board. Add a layer of slice bananas and scoop 1 1/2 cups of frosting onto the top of the cake and smooth evenly with the angled spatula.
- Place the chocolate cake layer and add another layer of sliced bananas. Scoop another 1 1/2 cups frosting onto the top of the chocolate layer and smooth evenly.
- Place the vanilla cake layer on top of the second layer of frosting.
- Using the remaining frosting, frost entire cake.
- Cover the bottom of the cake with the sprinkles.
Chocolate ganache directions
- Using a small pot, heat up the heavy whipping cream until steaming.
- While heavy whipping cream is heating up, place chocolate chips into a heat-proof bowl.
- Once the heavy whipping cream is heated, pour over the chocolate chips.
- Allow to sit for 1 minute before whisking until smooth.
- Pour ganache into the squeeze bottle.
- Pipe drips of the ganache around the edge of the cake and fill in the top middle of the cake with ganache.
- Place the cake into the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the ganache to harden.
- Once hardened, remove from fridge, pipe dollops of frosting onto the top of the cake.
- Sprinkle some chopped peanuts.
- Top the frosting dollops with cherries.