Sunday, February 13, 2011

chocolate covered strawberry cake

This is not a humble shy kind of a cake. It is not a quiet restrained kind of a cake. It is a show stopping ta-da! kind of a cake. I like to think that if this cake could talk it would greet me with a "why hello sugar" and a sassy wink. This is not the kind of treat to serve to someone that you are just okay about. This cake a declaration of love, true friendship, and genuine affection.

I think it would be a very appropriate over the top gesture to make this for someone for Valentine's day. See if you get a little "hello sugar" yourself.

chocolate covered strawberry cake
The cake is three main components: north douglas chocolate cake, strawberry buttercream, and chocolate ganache. The creamy light strawberry buttercream frosting is sandwiched between two layers of moist chocolate cake. Then a good dosing of chocolate ganache is poured over all. Each component on it's own is pretty easily done. It is the combination of them together that creates this magical experience.

North Douglas chocolate cake
(link) Follow the recipe for the cake portion only of the North Douglas chocolate cake.

strawberry buttercream frosting
(this recipe is from Martha Stewart)
So, this recipe is a bit fiddly. I will admit to that. It is not particularly tricky or difficult, but it does require some patience to stand in front of a mixer and drop in each little piece of butter and allow it to fully incorporate. But, wow oh wow is it worth it. Friends flip out over this frosting. It is like strawberry cloud heavenly light.

4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, pureed (blitz the strawberries in a food processor)

1) Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2) Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking well after each addition.

3) Switch to a paddle attachment. With mixer on low, add strawberry puree, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, or cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

chocolate ganache
(this recipe is from the genius Ina Garten)

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz good semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1) Cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

2) When smooth, remove from heat and set aside. Let it cool slightly.

cake assembly
1 pint of strawberries

1) Once the cake has cooled completely, take one of the layers and place it top side down on the serving dish.

2) Pile 3 cups of the strawberry buttercream frosting onto this layer and smooth out to the sides. Be a bit gentle with the buttercream because we did spend some time getting it nice and fluffy. It would sad to lose that to spatula smashing.

3) Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream frosting, top side up. Take the remaining 2 cups of buttercream frosting and fill in the side space between the chocolate cake layers. (Note: do not put any of the buttercream on the top of the final cake layer. This layer will be covered with ganache).

 4) Pour the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake. Gravity will probably pull the gorgeous chocolatey-ness down the edges of the cake, but if not a gentle nudging from a spatula will do the trick. 

5) Wash and cut the tops off the pint of strawberries. Blot the cut top of the strawberry on a paper towel and then arrange cut side down on the chocolate ganache cake.

6) Step back and marvel at the general gorgeous splendor. Share with someone you love.

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