Sweet And Crumby

Baking, a Love Story


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Chocolate Strawberry Truffle Cake and the Speed of Life

Imagine biting into the perfect strawberry chocolate truffle from a ridiculously expensive box of chocolates but in cake form. That is what I was going for when my daughter requested a strawberry chocolate cake for her birthday celebration.  I looked all over the internet and searched through my cookbooks, but did not quite find what I had in mind.  So I pieced together recipes from three different sources to get exactly what I was imagining…a chocolate strawberry truffle in a lovely slice of cake.

The cake is rich, moist and chocolatey, with a strawberry chocolate ganache slathered on between layers, sliced strawberries, and a white chocolate cream cheese frosting.  Oh, did I forget to mention the obvious?  Chocolate dipped strawberries are the garnish and also get to be served on the side.  A pretty special birthday cake…wouldn’t you say?

Birthdays are not taken lightly here, figuratively or literally.  My mom believed in the all-week birthday celebrations when I was a kid.  There were several occurrences that happened with each and every birthday: First and foremost, there was always some kind of party with friends over the weekend, then there was a separate family birthday dinner in which we got to choose everything from the main course to the dessert and finally, don’t take this lightly…my mother cleaned our rooms and made our beds on our birthday.

Pretty sweet, right?  I know.  I was spoiled, but not necessarily with stuff.  Mostly, I was spoiled with the things that mattered…my parents’ time and effort.  This birthday week celebration let me know that because I was born their lives were better, not more difficult or more expensive or demanding.  Sometimes it’s easy to fall prey to the mentality that things were simpler then, and that we just don’t have the extra time to spend with our kids  because life is moving at lightning speed.

When I ask my parents about the speed of life when they were parenting, I realize it doesn’t sound that different.  There was baseball, basketball, volleyball, piano, clarinet, Blue Birds, Boy Scouts, etc.  They had jobs, had to get dinner on the table and there were no salads in bags, or pre-chopped vegetables or going out to dinner on a weeknight.  You get my drift.

I’m not saying each one of us doesn’t have it a little harder in some way or a lot harder due to life circumstances, but what I am saying is that no matter the speed of life, kids, at any age, need to feel special and need to know that we actually WANT to spend time with them. It’s about playing board games on the kitchen table, sitting down to a meal together and celebrating birthdays ALL WEEK.   Kids still need to feel important to us even if life is flying by and even if our responsibilities seem insurmountable.

So I hope you make this cake for a special someone at your house even if it’s not their birthday.  Or if strawberry and chocolate isn’t their thing, then make their favorite.  And when it is their birthday…go ahead and cook their favorite meal, clean their room, and celebrate ALL WEEK.  Let them know just how lucky you are that they are in your life! :)

Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum
This cake is time consuming. You may want to make it a day ahead of when you plan to serve it.
3/4 c. plus 2 T. Dutch Process cocoa powder
1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. canola oil
4 Eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 additional egg whites, at room temperature
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. cake flour
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. superfine sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 c. sliced strawberries
2 T. Framboise (strawberry liqueur)
Whole strawberries dipped in melted chocolate and refrigerated for garnish
8 oz chocolate chips, melted

Chocolate Strawberry Ganache
From Bon Appetit June 1996
1 c. whipping cream
1/4 + 1/8 c. good strawberry jam
8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (good quality!), chopped

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting-
from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott
IMPORTANT!!! Make 1.5 times this recipe if you want to frost the sides of the cake as well! Some people like the layers to show since they are so pretty but mine weren’t so pretty and more frosting would have been GRAND!
6 oz white chocolate finely chopped
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 t. vanilla extract
3 c. confectioners sugar

To Make the Cake: Grease the bottoms of two 9×2 inch round cake pans (leave the sides uncoated and line with parchment paper for nice, flat cakes…I did NOT do that and that is why makes layers look rounded and the whole cake looks a little topsy turvy).  Heat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the bottom third of the oven.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water. Then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes so the mixture comes to room temperature.  Once cooled, pour it into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the oil and egg yolks to the mixing bowl and beat with the whisk attachment, starting on low speed and then increasing to medium until mixture resembles buttercream.  Beat on medium for 1 minute or until shiny and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla for a few seconds.

In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and sift together.  Put 1/2 of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.  Put the last 1/2 in and beat on low speed, scraping down the bowl.  Raise the mixer speed to high for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl-the mixture will be very thick.  On low speed, add the egg whites and gradually increase the speed and beat at medium-high speed for two minutes. The batter will now resemble thick soup.

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.  Remove the cakes from the oven and immediately run a small metal spatula or knife between the sides of the pans and the cakes.  Invert the cakes onto wire cooling racks that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Remove the parchment from the bottom of the cakes and then invert them onto the racks so they are right side up.  Cool completely. I wrap each layer in plastic wrap after it is cooled completely and freeze for about an hour.  This will help make it easier to slice each layer in half later.

While cake is cooling prepare Chocolate Strawberry Ganache: Combine cream and jam in heavy large saucepan.  Whisk over medium-high heat until jam melts and mixture comes to a low boil.  Don’t walk away, the cream can burn quickly.  Add chocolate and remove from heat.  Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.  Refrigerate ganache just until thick enough to spread, whisking occasionally, about one hour.

While ganache is refrigerating, make one batch of white chocolate cream cheese frosting.   You will make a 1/2 batch later! Take the cakes out of the fridge and slice horizontally in half.  Melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute. Stir. If it is not melted, keep cooking for for 30 second intervals, check and stir. Over heating white chocolate will cause it to seize up so if it’s almost melted, just cook another 10 seconds or so.

Beat butter and cream cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (on medium then high speed to get fluffy). Add slightly cooled melted chocolate and combine. Add sifted powder sugar and vanilla and beat on high until creamy and fluffy.

To assemble the cake: Place the bottom layer of your cake on your cake stand.  I usually put thin strips of foil all around the outer edge of the cake stand so that any drips from the ganache are caught by the foil.  I remove the foil when I am done frosting the cake.  Brush 1 T. of Framboise over the first layer of cake.  Then spread the ganache thickly over the bottom layer of cake and then place sliced strawberries in a circular pattern on top, one layer only of strawberries.  Put the second cake layer on top and spread with white chocolate cream cheese frosting.  Place the third layer on the frosting and repeat with the Framboise, chocolate ganache and sliced strawberries.  Place the last layer on top and frost with the cream cheese frosting.

O.K. people…this is where you learn from my mistakes.  I did not have enough frosting for the sides and ended up with a lopsided cake so it was not so pretty from the sides.  If you are going to frost the sides, I highly recommend refrigerating your cake for an hour or two BEFORE doing so.  Just before taking the cake out of the fridge, make your extra 1/2 batch of frosting and then frost the sides of your cake.  The refrigeration allows the ganache to set-up and therefore it won’t smear when you are frosting the sides of your cake with white frosting.

Dip whole strawberries in melted chocolate chips and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Push one strawberry or more…use your artistic side…atop the cake. I shaved a bit of chocolate over the top for finesse from a leftover chocolate Easter bunny we hadn’t eaten.

Enjoy!


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April Fool’s Faux Fries and A Chocolate Chipped, Orange Zested Pound Cake Ticket to Crazy Place

Hi All,

Since April Fool’s Day is today, I thought I would repost this since it is a doozy, tastes YUM and will definitely fool anyone you serve them to. Make sure to stop by your local fast food joint and ask if you can take one of the little ketchup cups when you buy a soda or something, it really helps with the whole look of the fake fries. Happy fooling! —Love, Geni

I can’t do anything normally, the obvious way, the “exactly according to the recipe” way. Sometimes it works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. Today it worked; really, really worked.

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18 Comments

Thin Mint Obsessed? To. Die. For. Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

If you like Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, then you have come to the right place. Or if you are simply a fan of the deepest, richest, chocolate cupcake with creamy mint frosting, then you are also in the right place.  On the other hand, if chocolate just does not rock your world, please feel free to move on.  I will contemplate whether you are allowed to return.  Kidding…just kidding.

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Not for Sissies Spiced Molten Chocolate Cakes

Inhale. I am giving you permission unlike Bill Clinton’s little foray. You’re not running for president are you? Let’s hope not. Use some imagination…c’mon…I know you can. Close your eyes, picture standing in my kitchen. Please step over the Golden Retriever. Chances are, she is lying at your feet, or more likely has her nose in your crotch. Try to ignore that…it’s difficult, but please try for this little exercise.

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20 Comments

The Girl Who Cried Wolf {Chocolate Kahlua Cake Drizzled with Kahlua Ganache and Kahlua Icing}

I am she…the one who cried wolf. The one who has said at least ten times or so here on S&C that this is the BEST something or other EVER! But what if it is? Will you believe me this time? Have I whittled away your trust? I sure hope not because the only loser in this equation is YOU if that is so.

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A Pre-Thanksgiving Round-Up

I’ve decided not to reinvent the wheel and just show you what Sweet and Crumby has got for the upcoming big holiday. I hope this list gives you inspiration for your Thanksgiving menu.

This Maple Roasted Pumpkin Salad would be a tantalizing and bright way to start off your holiday meal. Add some dried cranberries or make a cranberry vinaigrette to give it that extra festive flare.

pumpkin salad

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40 Comments

Balsamic Dark Cherry Sauce Over Fallen Chocolate Cake

A Sweet and Crumby Instant Replay because sometimes Life happens.

Have you ever fallen…

crazily in love?

down, way down, with no glimpse of the sky?

literally, into a mud puddle, or down a flight of stairs or simply between the cracks?…

This devastatingly rich, chocolate cake, too, has fallen, but it was designed to fall. Cakes are one of those few things that can be meant to fall.  Unlike people, this cake falls perfectly into a rich and soulful plate of splendor. Continue reading


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My Bright Orange Life Saver {Carrot and Poppy Seed Bundt Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Icing}

Think of this beautifully orange, and poppy spiked carrot cake, dripping with honey and cream cheese glaze as a life saver—those little ring thingies that you toss to someone that has gone over board so you can pull them in, not the candies.  I basically threw it to myself, to slow down my life, to bring myself in the moment.

IMG_5935

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Black Cocoa Perfection and Evil Awesomeness {Chocolate Malted Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Malted Frosting}

Few things are perfect but these things come to mind:

Black Cocoa Powder which was used in these dark, dark, moist and chocolatey malted cupcakes.
Calorie FREE chocolate malted cupcakes which these are NOT…one can certainly dream can’t she?
And my daughter’s smile when opening her fifteenth birthday present which was a first edition copy of her favorite book with author’s signature.

IMG_5474

My words are few today because life is going at its usual lightning speed right now. So what’s new? But life is good and birthdays are super good. And watching your daughter open presents and having your husband make her dreams come true are all beautiful things. He was the mastermind behind finding a signed first edition of Night Circus and surprising her with it yesterday morning. Continue reading


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When Life Gives You Lemons—Make Lemon Rosemary Cake!

I apologize for the re-runs, and I do have some delectable Chocolate Malt Cupcakes sitting in my fridge waiting patiently for their photo shoot, but sometimes life just comes first. So enjoy this one until they get their time in the spotlight. Take care!

Lemonade is refreshing, yes, but lemon cake is memorable…especially this one. This lemon cake is NOT the syrup-y sweet kind that tastes like a lemon lollipop.  This one  is tart, blooming with hints of rosemary and the lightest, almost translucent, flavor of olive oil.   The texture is exquisite.  It’s full and solid,  yet also soft and moist.

I’m in a lemon phase.  Maybe it’s because it had been so cold last month, and I am now basking in the warm weather here in sunny So. Cal, or maybe it’s because of the book I have just finished reading, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

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