Take chocolate dipped strawberries to the next level with this dreamy Chocolate Strawberry Cake!
Being a blogger is strange sometimes. When I started this blog, I intended it to be a journal of sorts, tied in with whatever I had baked for the week. Somewhere along the way it evolved into covering the recipe of the day and the issues that I ran into when making it. Which isn’t a bad thing – it works – it’s just not exactly what I intended. As such, I don’t often share too much of what’s going on in my personal life unless I’m weeks into being sick or ranting about something or other. Or maybe it’s just that my life isn’t as exciting as I thought it was?
This week, I’m feeling like I really just need to get some things off my chest, and in the spirit of my original vision for this blog, I’d like to use this post to do so. If you’d rather not read my ramblings, feel free to scroll down to the recipe!
The day before I was meant to finish and shoot this cake, I got a call from my mom telling me that my aunt had just months to live. She has been sick since last year and underwent extensive cancer treatment last winter for a very treatable, though late-stage, cancer. She was given the all-clear in early 2016, but seemed to have ongoing issues and doctor appointments. Very recently she had an MRI done for something unrelated. It revealed that the cancer had spread rapidly to her spine, and that there was no cure.
SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.
Why the hell was this not found earlier? What were the doctors even doing for the past year?? They knew there was a chance of it spreading, so why didn’t they find it sooner? Why wasn’t the MRI (or other tests) done months ago??
I am so pissed off.
I’m not going to go into how much the medical system in Canada sucks (it does, don’t believe the hype) and how shitty so many of the doctors are, or how long you have to wait for treatment (months, sometimes years), or how many times my aunt got sent home from emergency last year (before she was diagnosed) with a shrug and no proper tests or treatment.
Realistically, even if they found this new cancer early enough I still don’t think it could have been treated, but at least everyone would have known sooner. There’s a lot of things that could have/should have been done differently, but they weren’t and here we are.
Two days after getting that call, my mom and I were on a plane back to Edmonton to see my aunt (another thing that sucks in Canada? Airfare prices). I still had to finish this cake before we went, but it seemed so trivial with everything going on.
It would be an understatement to say that it was literally the last thing I wanted to do. Not caring about something and being a perfectionist leads to a bit of a conflict, so it’s no surprise that I am not 100% happy with this cake or these pictures, but it is what it is.
Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do builds character, right? So I forced myself to finish this cake, knowing it would partly help take my mind off of everything. I packed up some of this cake and next week’s cake and took it to Edmonton for my aunt and cousin. They loved it, and I’m glad I had the chance to have them try some of my baking. I won’t go into the details of the visit, but it was good. As good as it could be under the circumstances. Sigh.
Anyhow, if you’ve gotten through this whole post, thanks for listening to me ramble!
Now, this Chocolate Strawberry Cake… it’s seriously delicious. I made it into a 6 layer cake because, well, I wanted to. You can leave it as a 3 layer cake, but you’ll have some frosting left over. The 6 layers is a great ratio in my opinion! The cake is my usual chocolate cake recipe and the strawberry buttercream is my favourite Swiss meringue with some fresh pureed strawberries thrown in. All topped off with a simple chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries!
Notes & tips for this Chocolate Strawberry Cake:
- Some people have had issues with the frosting curdling once the strawberries are added — this is due to excess water in the berries. You can either strain your chopped berries or press them in a paper towel to remove excess water. Alternatively you can use strawberry jam instead of fresh strawberries or, ideally, freeze-dried strawberry powder.
- You can use any kid of berry you prefer for the frosting.
- To enhance the chocolate flavour of the cake, you can use strong hot coffee instead of hot water.
- For the ganache, I let mine set overnight (with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface). It will be too thick at this point, so I microwave it for 10 secs and stir it until it’s the right consistency.
- The drip technique works best on a chilled cake so that the drips set quickly.
- Be sure to check my Swiss Meringue Buttercream post for tips and troubleshooting.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, see my Flat Top Cakes post.
Chocolate Strawberry Cake
- 6 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups unsalted butter cubed, room temperature
- 1/2 cup pureed strawberries (about 1 cup whole strawberries - stemmed, hulled, and pureed)
- 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate finely chopped
- 2 oz heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350F, grease three 6" round baking pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line bottoms with parchment.
- Place all dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
- In a medium bowl whisk all wet ingredients (pour coffee/water in slowly as not to cook the eggs if very hot).
- Add wet ingredients to dry and mix on medium for 2-3 mins. Batter will be very thin.
- Pour evenly into prepared pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out mostly clean. A total of 30-35mins.
- Cool 10minutes in the pans then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, cut each layer in half horizontally to get 6 layers.
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.*
- Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins).
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.
- Add strawberry puree and whip until smooth.**
- Place chopped chocolate and cream into a microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir. Microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring in between, until ganache is smooth and silky. Set aside to cool completely and thicken slightly before using on cake.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving dish. Top with about 2/3 cup buttercream. Repeat with remaining layers. Frost and smooth the outside with a thin crumb coat. Chill for 20mins.
- Frost the cake. Using a small spoon, place dollops of ganache around the top edges of the cooled cake, allowing some to drip down. Fill in the top of the cake with more ganache and spread evenly with an offset spatula.***
** The buttercream may look like it's curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth. Some people have had issues with the frosting curdling once the strawberries are added -- this is due to excess water in the berries. You can either strain your chopped berries or press them in a paper towel to remove excess water. Alternatively you can use strawberry jam instead of fresh strawberries.
*** You may have some ganache left over.