Sweet And Crumby

Baking, a Love Story


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! :)

To make this recipe gluten free, simply use my GF Chocolate Cupcake recipe and make as a TWO layer cake. Simply use the ganache and strawberries as the middle filling and frost with the white chocolate cream cheese frosting.  I promise you, it will be divine. Please report back if you try this! :)

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.

To make the dipped strawberries: Have ready a dinner plate or small tray lined with parchment paper or wax paper. To melt your chocolate chips for the dipped strawberries, place them in a small but deep bowl, good for dipping. Cook on high in the microwave for one minute and then stir. Check and see how they are doing. If needed, microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between and checking. It’s better to under heat the chocolate and let it finish up with a good stir as it sits rather than over-heat it and it may seize up on you. Dip washed and completely dried whole strawberries in the melted chocolate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  If you want to go crazy, melt some a small amount of white chocolate and then after the strawberries have refrigerated for 15 minutes, use a small spoon to drizzle chocolate in a zigzag pattern across the chocolate part of the dipped strawberries. Re-refrigerate for a few minutes to let firm up.

Put 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.



A Parade of Easter Sweets

Whether you have big plans, little plans or no plans, you can whip up one of these spring-y sweets to help celebrate the day. I have rated these recipes based on difficulty and time needed so you can choose the one that fits into your life.

Braided Bread Stuffed with Lemon Curd. This soft, delicate, flaky filled bread is so tangy and sweet. It is really a perfectly beautiful bread to BRING to a brunch, one that you are not hosting and you are only responsible for ONE THING. Because this one is a solid 9/10  in difficulty level (maybe a 10…let’s not mince words) and is totally worth it if you have the time and energy.

Braided Sweet Bread

Continue reading


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.

Continue reading


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.

Continue reading


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.


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


Sunny Side Up Orange Layer Cake

Are you a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person? I have to admit that I, like Darth Vader, naturally swing to the darker side, BUT knowing my sinister ways, I try very hard to make a conscious decision to look at the bright side.


Continue reading


A Tunnel of Fudge Cake Happy Birthday Toast to My Dad

I was sixteen and running late for my first date with a boy whom I really liked and I made the cataclysmic mistake of telling my dad to “entertain” him for a few minutes. After I sprayed my last bit of Aqua Net onto my two inch high bangs, glossed over my lips and slipped on my “pumps”, I walked into our family room to find my dad, six foot three inches tall, and my date tap dancing on our wood floors while my dad whistled and sang, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Continue reading


Fourth of July Round-Up

Cuz I have been in the lazy groove of summer and living life large a little too much lately, I don’t have a new post for the Fourth of July holiday but I do have some tried and true faves and I also have seen some pretty snazzy stuff around the blogosphere. So enjoy…and have a wonderful, tasty and SAFE Fourth. BTW…all the gorgeous photos you see below are stolen from the blogs mentioned and linked to in this post.

How about starting the day with my Red Velvet Pancakes and cream cheese dipping sauce (that’s breakfast code for frosting). These would surely wake up the family and begin the celebration on the right foot.

Continue reading


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.

Let’s reconsider that last statement. I am NOT calling all of my readers losers. Well, I don’t think so anyhow. I am actually just saying that if I have blown your trust to smithereens, although it may be my fault entirely, if you don’t believe me this time, you will be so, so sorry because this IS the BEST chocolate cake I have ever made (I am fairly certain). Continue reading


Frosting as Superglue and a Chocolate Malted S’mores Birthday Cake

Like my cake, this post is a bit of a mess. Sometimes I just don’t think linearly. I know, the rich and chocolatey S’mores cake looks just fine, even delicious, BUT it definitely had a rough start. The crazy baker who had gotten up at 5:00am to frost it was still a bit sleepy. She had not had her coffee and she was doing dangerous stunts with the serrated knife and muttering to herself while burning her finger tips on the freshly broiled marshmallows. It may have been the morning of the birthday party. This idiotic baker may not have planned ahead quite as well as she thought.

Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,613 other followers