Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake

A wonderful day off from work! The sun is shining as summer comes to an end (gag), the birds are singing and the squirrels are plumping up for the colder weather that is approaching.


Well I do have the day off from work today, but it's because I'm sick. Other than that it's pouring and the birds are too depressed to sing because summer is ending...but I'm pretty sure the squirrels are still really fat. Anyway, I'm thinking it's a standard case of strep throat.

Let me tell you a little bit about the relationship between strep throat and I. That's right, we have a relationship.

Growing up, my year would not be complete if I didn't get strep throat a few times. Sometimes the smell of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or cement glue can bring someone right back to their childhood. Give me a whiff of liquid Amoxicillin and I'm 8 years old again, with a closed throat and only canned peaches to get me through (mental note: have someone pick up canned peaches on their way home from work).

Well I haven't gotten a good case of strep throat in a while, so I guess it's long overdue. Actually when looking for medicine in the cabinet last night, it had all expired somewhere between the golden years of 1991-1994. Yep, definitely still effective.

So don't mind me while I lay on the couch and eat soggy Rice Krispies all day. At least I can devote my day to blogging! No baking though....I don't think people would appreciate cookies laced with strep.

Sounds sketchy.

Since I don't have anything new I can make and share with you, I'll share a recipe from Valentine's Day a few years ago. Don't ask questions, just go with it.

I wanted to make a strawberry cake for this particular Valentine's Day. But when searching through recipe after recipe, they all contained Jell-O and food coloring and while I'm sure they're wonderful and tasty and beautifully pink, it just seemed....wrong. But I finally found one on another blog (Confections of a Foodie Bride--check her out if you haven't already!), and it was perfect.

Then I filled the cake with a quick strawberry jam, frosted it with a light pink vanilla buttercream, covered it in chocolate ganache, swirled in some white chocolate hearts and topped it with chocolate-covered strawberries. If that doesn't scream love, folks, I'm not sure what does.

Oh, and it sparkled. TAKE THAT.

Strawberry Cake
Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) softened butter
1 cup pureed fresh strawberries
¼ cup room temperature milk
4 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease and flour two 9” cake pans. Add dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) to mixing bowl. Add butter and mix just until butter is incorporated and texture is crumbly. Add wet ingredients (milk, eggs, vanilla and strawberry puree) and mix to combine. Fold in yogurt. Divide batter evenly between pans and bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle comes out with no traces of batter, but not completed dry (should have some moist crumbs attached). Cool cakes completely.

Quick Strawberry Jam

1 cup chopped strawberries
1-2 Tbsp sugar (as much or as little as you'd like to get desired sweetness)
1/4 cup water (juice can be substituted)
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water

Add all ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Allow mixture to cook until liquid is reduced and thickened. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and put in the refrigerator to cool completely before using.

Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Fine Cooking

1 lb. chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp softened butter

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat just until it begins to bubble (not boiling!). Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit, untouched, for 3-5 minutes. Slowly begin whisking chocolate-cream mixture until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add butter and continue to whisk until completely incorporated. Cool ganache at room temperature before using, just long enough so it's still able to be poured (if you let it sit overnight it'll become thick, perfect for frosting a cake).

For the pink buttercream, I just used the vanilla buttercream recipe I've mentioned before and added a few drops of pink food coloring to reach the desired color. For the chocolate-covered strawberries I used dark and white chocolate candy melts and went crazy with it!

To assemble the cake, I filled it by putting a layer of buttercream then topped it with the cooled strawberry jam. I frosted the whole cake with the pink buttercream, poured on the chocolate ganache, then used melted white chocolate to make the heart designs on top (start with just a dot of white chocolate then pull a toothpick through the center--voila!). Finally, I topped the cake with some gold luster dust (so it shimmered, obviously) and the chocolate covered strawberries.

Happy Valentine's Day! ....I mean, Happy Day After Labor Day! Hope it's a good bring me some peaches.

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