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! 🙂
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.
April 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm
Wow, that looks like a FANTASTIC birthday cake!! I’m practically salivating just looking at it. My childhood birthday celebrations sound a lot like yours (minus the mom cleaning the room part!) – I always looked forward so much to getting to pick what we’d have for dinner and dessert! Definitely a touching and crucial sentiment you’ve shared, about the importance of spending time with kids. I hope your daughter loved her cake!
April 18, 2014 at 8:06 pm
That’s a gorgeous layer cake! I sure would love it for my birthday…actually this is perfect for any celebration.
April 19, 2014 at 5:09 am
April 19, 2014 at 8:58 am
“I know. I was spoiled, but not necessarily with stuff. Mostly, I was spoiled with the things that mattered…my parents’ time and effort.” — I thought this was just beautiful, and so true! When I look back on my birthdays I remember the special moments spent with my family and friends, not the gifts.
Okay, this cake. I cannot even believe how amazing this looks and sounds!! I make my own birthday cake each year and I think I just found my next cake!!
April 19, 2014 at 11:56 am
What a beautiful layer cake!
April 19, 2014 at 7:51 pm
I’m dazzled by the scrumptious Chocolate Strawberry Truffle Cake! What a wonderful birthday treat! Your daughter is blessed to have such a lovely mom!
April 24, 2014 at 9:14 am
Thank you so much Deb. Coming from you, who seems to make everything GORGEOUS, that means so much. I try to be a good mom…but there’s no instruction booklet so I am doing my best.
April 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm
mmmmmm cake looks gorgeous!
April 24, 2014 at 9:12 am
Thank you for the compliment!
April 20, 2014 at 10:58 pm
Geni, I promise you, no one is looking at that cake and saying, “Gee. It would be so much better looking its sides were frosted.” Just look at your creation. Better still, look at that opening photo. This cakes needs no further embellishment. The only negative that I can find is that it cannot be shipped. Dash the luck! 🙂
April 24, 2014 at 9:11 am
I would gladly ship it to you John should we figure out a way. Thanks for the kind words. I would trade cake for pasta any day!:)
April 21, 2014 at 6:27 am
Geni, that is an absolutely stunning cake and looks and sounds so incredibly delicious!! Great job!
It’s amazing how quickly time goes and how fast they grow up. It’s awesome that you’re extending the way your mother celebrated you and your birth on to your children. They are truly a gift. Keep up the great work!
April 24, 2014 at 9:10 am
It’s so nice to hear from you. I hope all is well. Time does go by so incredibly fast lately. My son is a freshman in college and the year has just zoomed by. Thanks Lynn!
April 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm
What a wonderful birthday cake!
April 24, 2014 at 9:09 am
Thank you so much Anjana. How sweet.
April 22, 2014 at 5:40 am
no way! Do you even realize how amazing this cake looks and sounds! oh my gosh. I think it is just divine and I love how you describe it as a strawberry chocolate truffle!
April 24, 2014 at 9:09 am
Thanks so much Jessica! That means a lot coming from you. You are so talented.
April 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm
Wow that turned out really perfect, In my opinion it looks better that some good bakeshops
April 24, 2014 at 9:08 am
How sweet of you to say Raymund. Thanks!
April 23, 2014 at 10:12 am
That is truly a magnificent cake and I’ll bet your daughter was over the moon! I love your family’s approach to birthdays and feel much the same way.
April 24, 2014 at 9:06 am
She was pretty happy and I was relieved that it came out. Thanks for sweet comments Betsy. Have a great week!
April 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm
This sounds absolutely divine! I personally celebrate birthday week or month.. But I think it’s quite sweet you help your kids celebrate as your parents did for you. Sweet story 🙂
April 24, 2014 at 9:06 am
Birthday week is certainly a lot more fun than one day. Thank you so much for your kind words.
April 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm
I love this post — my daughter always requests strawberries on her birthday — now I know what I’m making this year!
April 24, 2014 at 9:05 am
Thank you so much for the nice comment. Hope she enjoys it. It is an all day event though…very fussy…just to warn you.
April 24, 2014 at 9:31 am
Wow, what a beautiful and decadent cake!! I’m sure your daughter in heaven eating this cake. Amazing!! Hope you had a great time celebrating.
April 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Hi, Geni! Thanks for stopping by! Your cake looks utterly delicious, my mouth is watering! I hope that you are doing well. Xoxo!
April 26, 2014 at 10:23 pm
Yum! This looks so divine!! 🙂
April 28, 2014 at 2:34 pm
Your blog is beautiful! I can’t wait to try some of your recipes!
April 28, 2014 at 8:44 pm
You actually made that look doable. Great step by step!
April 29, 2014 at 10:52 pm
That is such a beautiful cake. I will have to give it a try — gotta find a birthday!
May 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm
Geni, I love all the layers of this cake…looks beautiful! I just finished my lunch…this cake sounds and looks perfect NOW!
Thanks for this wonderful recipe…hope you are having a fun week 😀
May 2, 2014 at 6:50 am
Your daughter must have loved the cake…I think it looks and sounds delicious.
June 16, 2014 at 6:38 am
very nice 🙂
June 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm
mmm that cake looks good! I love sweets and definitely chocolate ones! If it wasn’t for my love of BBQ I would have been a baker 🙂
October 16, 2014 at 3:02 am
This looks so amazing !! Yum!
October 20, 2014 at 10:18 am
Thank you! How sweet. 🙂
November 19, 2014 at 4:13 am
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