Ingredients (recipes below):
Chocolate Layer Cake
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Chocolate Layer Cake
2 cups flour
½ cup regular cocoa powder
½ cup Dutch process cocoa (or Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 9” cake pans; line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Grease paper and then dust entire pan with cocoa powder.
Combine flour, cocoa powders, baking soda and salt. Mix with a whisk. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars for 5 minutes. The mixture should be very pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until smooth.
Divide batter into prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove parchment paper and cool.
Cooled cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until you are ready to assemble them. (For this cake, if you are freezing the layers: cut each layer in half before freezing to make 4 layers).
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing
1 ½ cups egg whites (about 12 large egg whites, or use pasteurized egg whites that come in a carton)
2 ½ cups sugar
pinch of salt
3 cups unsalted butter (6 sticks), at room temperature**
1 Tbs vanilla extract
about 1 ½ cups Strawberry Puree (see recipe below)
about 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries (set aside for cake assembly)
In the top of a double boiler, stir together egg whites, sugar and salt. Bring water in bottom of double boiler to a low simmer; cook until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 160°F and sugar is completely dissolved (rub mixture between fingertips-it should not feel gritty). Mixture will be foamy and not a uniform consistency.
Transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip until meringue is completely cooled and glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. DO NOT ADD BUTTER UNTIL BOTH THE BOWL AND FROSTING ARE COMPLETELY COOL. Switch mixer attachment from the whisk to paddles. Add butter 1-2 Tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Mixture may appear curdled at times. Continue beating until butter is fully incorporated and frosting is fluffy and smooth. This will take about 10 minutes. Add vanilla and beat smooth. Add strawberry filling and beat until frosting is a uniform color.
**BUTTER NOTE: butter should be at room temperature soft, but not overly soft. If the butter is too cold, it will not incorporate well into the meringue, and you will have butter chunks. If the butter is over-soft, it will cause the icing to curdle while beating-this is okay, it isn’t ruined: it will just take longer (more beating) for the frosting to become smooth. If icing still won’t set, place in the fridge for 20 minutes, and then beat again.
2 cups whole fresh strawberries, hulled
2 Tbs sugar
Process strawberries in a food processor until very finely chopped, but not completely liquefied. Mix in sugar.
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about ½ cup, slightly heaping)
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbs corn syrup
Place the chopped chocolate into a small bowl and set aside. In a Pyrex measuring cup or microwavable bowl, combine the heavy cream and corn syrup. Heat for 30-45 seconds; stir. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for one minutes, then stir until smooth.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries:
Chocolate and vanilla melting chocolates
Melt chocolate and vanilla melting chocolates in separate bowls. Dip strawberries in melted chocolate and place on waxed paper.
Place remaining melted chocolates in Ziploc bags and poke a hole in one corner of each bag. Drizzle strawberries with contrasting chocolate.
Let chocolate harden completely before placing on cake.
Completely cool cake layers. Cut each layer in half to make 4 layers. Prepare frosting and ganache.
Place waxed paper strips along edges of serving plate. Place one cake layer, cut side up, on the serving plate. Waxed paper strips should cover the exposed part of the plate, but not be too far under the cake layer. Spread cake with a layer of strawberry icing. Press sliced fresh strawberries into icing. Top with another cake layer. Repeat with frosting and remaining cake layers. Ice entire cake with a thin crumb coat of icing. Refrigerate cake for 2o minutes to set slightly (optional). Create a smooth finish with remaining icing over entire cake (top of cake should be completely flat).
Drizzle cake with ganache, letting it drip down the sides. Refrigerate cake.
Decorate top and base of cake with chocolate covered strawberries.
Storage: Store cake in refrigerator.