Monday, June 11, 2012

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Here in Pennsylvania, tiny, ripe, local strawberries are one of the signs that summer has come (though the crop was a bit late this year). When I was invited for dinner with my boyfriend’s family, I realized that I should probably bring a dessert and after serving local strawberries with Grand Marnier whipped cream at the Blue Heron all evening, I thought strawberries would be the perfect theme. Unfortunately, this thought came to me at ten o’clock on a Saturday night and most of our local strawberry growers refrain from doing business on Sundays.. so there I was, at Price Rite, buying strawberries after work.

Before you dive into this recipe, I must warn you that it is a bit time consuming - but I found that it was manageable when split over two days time. For this version, I used an 8-inch spring form pan and a gluten-free yellow cake mix - I then torted the cake into three thin layers. You could easily create this recipe using standard 8-inch cake pans but I would recommend slicing each pan into two layers and using an extra layer of filling. You can obviously chose a non-gluten free cake mix in yellow, white, or even chocolate, for your preparation! I highly recommend baking the cake the night before you need it, and if using a spring form, to let it cool in the pan overnight. A cool cake is the key to nice smooth layers, especially when baking gluten-free!

But enough about that, let’s get to the important part - strawberries and chocolate. Inside the cake, you have two fillings - glazed berries and a chocolate strawberry whipped cream. Outside, a pink tinted buttercream and a coating of chocolate ganache. I will walk you through the ingredients in the order that I prepared them.

Glazed Strawberries
While I made these the next morning, you could easily prepare this filling while your cake is baking.

You will need:
2 1/2 Cups of Strawberries
1/4 Cup of Sugar
1/4 Cup of Water
1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch

You will need two cups of thin sliced strawberries - you can prepare them before starting the glaze, or while it is cooking, if you like to multitask!

For the glaze:
Dice strawberries until you fill a 1/2 cup measuring spoon.
Put the strawberries into a small saucepan and crush them with a fork.
Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and place it over medium heat.
Cook this mixture for two minutes and remove from heat.
Pour the mixture through a strainer and collect the juice in a small mixing bowl.
The remaining crushed berries can be thrown away, and the juice poured back into the pan.
Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of corn starch with a bit of warm water to make a rue.
Mix the rue into your strawberry juice mixture.
Cook until thick and clear. (See below)

Make sure to stir almost constantly while the mixture is thickening so that it cooks evenly. Once it reaches the above consistency and color, remove it from the stove and allow it to cool slightly. After the glaze has had a chance to cool, pour it over your two cups of sliced strawberries. This mixture will form the filing to your cake. In my case, I had plenty left over which made a great breakfast over pancakes today. I almost imagine it’d make a good ice cream topping.

Chocolate Strawberry Whipped Cream
I have made this recipe previously as a simple strawberry whipped cream and it was to die for - so feel free to exclude the chocolate if you would like!

You will need: 
1 Cup Heavy Whipped Cream
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla
5 - 6 Tablespoons of Chopped Strawberries
Cocoa (to taste)

Chop your strawberries into very tiny pieces. You can do this by hand or with a food processor.
Beat the heavy cream and vanilla until it begins to thicken. I use a hand mixer at high speed.
Add in the sugar. Continue beating until it reaches the consistency you’d like.
Sprinkle in cocoa powder (no more than 1tsp at a time) and beat. (Do this to taste.)
After the whipped cream is down, fold in your chopped strawberries.

Keep the whipped cream refrigerated until you are ready to fill your cake. I don’t recommend making the whipped cream the night before, especially during the humid, hot, summer.

Buttercream Frosting
If you want to make your frosting from scratch, I recommend using a “quick” buttercream.

You will need: (per batch)
3 Cups of Confectioners Sugar
1 Cup of Butter (softened)
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
2 Tablespoons of Milk
Food coloring (optional)

Using a hand mixer, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy.
Add the sugar and beat for three minutes.
Add vanilla and milk and beat on a medium speed for a minute.
Add food coloring to your preference - start with one or two drops.
Beat on high speed for three minutes.

I find it helpful to take a bit of the icing and add extra milk so that you can crumb coat your cake more easily.

At this point... You’ll want to put the cake together. I did so in the following way:

Take your bottom layer of cake and spread a very thin layer of icing (crumb coat texture, if you have it) across the top. Then, pipe a ring of icing around the rim of the circle - you can use a ziploc bag with a hole in the corner. This helps your filling from oozing over the sides of the cake and into your outside icing. I filled the first layer with whipped cream. Repeat the icing steps for your next layer and then add the glazed strawberries. Make sure you make the filling layers even so that your cake will not lean. Finally, add the top cake layer and coat the entire cake with a crumb coat of icing. Then, take your thicker buttercream and ice the cake. I have found that it works well to place the cake (still attached to the spring form bottom) on a bowl to help with icing the sides of the sake. I then used the back of the chef’s knife shown below to smooth the sides and top - run it under cool water every few “swipes” to give the icing a smooth finish. I put the cake in the fridge while making the ganache so that everything had a chance to cool and settle into place.

Chocolate Ganache
This is perhaps my favorite part of this cake - especially because I used the extra ganache to make chocolate covered strawberries, yum.

You will need:
4 oz. of Bittersweet Chocolate
(I used a Ghirardelli baking bar for my chocolate and kept 1 square out for decoration.)
1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup of Light Corn Syrup
2 Tsp of Vanilla

Chop your chocolate into small pieces as shown above.
Place the chocolate in a medium size mixing bowl.
Heat cream over medium heat until it begins simmering.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
Then, add the vanilla and corn syrup and continue to mix.

You will want to allow the ganache to cool for a few minutes before pouring it over your cake. To get dripped edges, start in the middle of the cake and adjust accordingly.

For decoration:
I simply sliced strawberries length wise and placed them in overlapping circles around the top of the cake. I then used the end piece of strawberry for the middle.

To make chocolate shavings, I simply used a vegetable peeler to shave the Ghirardelli square.

Overall, I think it was a successful recipe and everyone seemed to enjoy it. The balance of chocolate and strawberry was nice - I used a yellow cake which helped offset some of the sweetness but it would be good as a chocolate cake, too. Another benefit was that most of the ingredients I already had in my pantry - I only purchased a chocolate bar, strawberries and a cake mix. Plus, these fillings and frostings can also be used for a wide variety of other cakes and treats!

What desserts remind you of summertime?


  1. WOW! This is gorgeous, I am definitely going to have to make this!

    1. Thanks so much, love! I’d love to see your version - it’s time consuming but hopefully well worth it!

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  3. Thank you for the glazed strawberry recipe. I was looking for just this to use as a filling for a surprise birthday cake I am making soon. I am thinking though, and wonder what you think, how it may go using a sweet white wine instead of water? I'm tasting a heady strawberry filling layered in a white velvet cake, with a vanilla French cream icing.
    And thank you for an easy and enjoyable to read blog, with good photography.

    1. I think wine is a great idea! I don't think you'd have any issues substituting it for the water, it may even work better for the reduction. The glazed strawberries are so easy to make and so addictive. I could have skipped the cake and simply ate the berries and whipped cream! Your cake sounds divine, I hope it turns out beautifully!

      Thank you for your sweet words about my blog, as well!